Primrose Growing Guide

Primula polyantha hybrids, Primula vulgaris and other Primula species


Crop Rotation Group



Fertile, well-drained soil enriched with compost, with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.


Partial shade, especially afternoon shade.

Frost tolerant

Yes, primroses are hardy perennials. Well-rooted plants are hardy to -30°F (-34°C).


Drench with a liquid organic fertilizer when plants begin to produce new leaves in spring.


Single Plants: 11" (30cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 11" (30cm) with 11" (30cm) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Primroses can be started from seed, which is a good way to explore different types. Start seeds indoors in late winter, barely pressing them into moist seed starting mix. At room temperature seeds should sprout within 21 days. Grow under bright lights, and set out hardened-off seedlings as early as possible, while the soil is still cool. You also can start with a purchased plant, which are widely available in spring. Container grown plants that are set out in late spring, after they have finished flowering, often do very well establishing themselves as permanent garden residents. Young plants need water when they are actively growing. A surface mulch suppresses weeds while making the plants look more attractive.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Primroses are beloved European wildflowers that help open the spring season. In addition to Primula species, colorful hybrids raised in winter greenhouses and sold in spring are surprisingly hardy in the garden. The crinkled leaves appear first thing in spring, often alongside wild violets. Primulas are different from evening primrose (Oenothera species), which are a separate plant.


Most primroses are borne on stems too short for cutting, but Japanese primrose (P. japonica) is a taller plant, with blossoms borne on upright stems. When flowering ends, trim off old stems to better view primrose foliage.


Slugs and snails may chew smooth-edged holes in leaves in spring, and spider mites or aphids are occasional problems in the summer. Primroses are moderately resistant to animal browsing. Summer heat waves are hard on these little flowers, which may die back prematurely in response to hot weather.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Primrose