Primula vialii

Common Name: primula 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Primulaceae
Native Range: South-central China
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Pale purple with red calyces
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Wet Soil


Best grown in consistently moist, well-drained, humusy soils in part shade. Can be grown in full sun in climates with cool summers if adequate soil moisture is maintained. Tolerant of wet soils as long as they are well-drained. Will self-seed in optimum growing conditions. Hardy in Zones 5-8.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Primula vialii, commonly called orchid primrose or Vial's primrose, is a herbaceous perennial native to wet, alpine meadows, stream banks, sparse oak thickets, and other moist areas of southwestern China, from southwestern Sichuan to northern and northwestern Yunnan Provinces, at elevations between 9,000-13,000'. The leaves are narrowly elliptic to oblong in shape, reaching 4-12" long and 0.75-1.5" wide and covered in a layer of soft hairs. The upright foliage forms 9-12" wide basal clumps where the 1-2' tall, leafless flowering stalks (scapes) emerge and bloom from early to mid-summer. The scapes are topped with 2" tall, cone-shaped spikes of densely packed, small, pale purple flowers. The unopened flower buds towards the top of the spike are surrounded by bright red sepals, creating a bicolor effect.

The genus name Primula means "little earliest one" and is the feminine diminutive of the Latin primus.

The specific epithet vialii honors Père Paul Vial (1855–1917), a French missionary and ethnologist who worked in Yunnan.

The common name orchid primrose may refer to the color or appearance of the flowers.


No major pest or disease problems of note. Performs well if given the right growing conditions. Deer and rabbits tend to avoid this plant.


Accent specimen for moist areas of alpine gardens, rock gardens, and woodland garden openings. Suitable for use on stream banks or pond edges.