119 Concord Place
Syracuse, New York
Phone/Fax: 315-471-5854

Cutting Back Perennials

Dividing Ornamental Grasses

Primroses as Perennials

Question of the Week

Primroses as Perennials

Sold as colorful pot plants at grocery stores and big box retailers in late winter, primroses can be planted in cool, moist, shady spots in Central New York landscapes. Q. I bought six beautiful, multi-colored primroses at a local home improvement center in late February. They did very well inside for about a month, but now they’re looking pretty droopy. Can they be planted outside and be expected to come back next year? The name on the tag is ‘Danova Mix’ primrose.

A. It’s certainly hard to resist the temptation to pick up a few inexpensive pots of these brightly colored “Polyantha hybrid” primroses when they become available each February and March! And, the good news is that, yes, it is possible to transplant them into your garden and expect them to return year after year – providing you pay attention to their needs.

Drumstick primrose has thrived in a gravel-filled bog at the edge of our pond for years.As a rule, primroses do best when grown in cool, constantly moist and partially shaded sites, especially during the heat of midsummer. And, even when given these conditions, it’s not unusual for them to go dormant and disappear from view in July and August because of their intolerance of hot weather. Fortunately, if they’re happy where you’ve planted them, they’ll send up a new rosette of crinkly leaves each autumn when cool, damp weather returns.

Japanese primroses thrive along the shady edges of streams and ponds. Other primroses that do well in Central New York providing that you meet their requirements include the April-blooming common (Primula vulgaris) and drumstick (P. denticulata) primroses, above left, that bloom in April in our garden. They’ll be followed by the “candelabara” Japanese (P. japonica) and “Bees” (P. bulleyana x. P. beesiana) hybrids that bloom from May into June along the edges of streams and ponds, at right.

To learn more about growing primroses, visit the America Primrose Society website.