© Paul Harris


Primroses and polyanthus

Botanical name: Primula

Alongside early bulbs, these cheerful, robust little plants provide colour in the early months of the year and are frequently used as temporary bedding or in seasonal containers and window boxes. 


Clusters of large, rounded flowers in a range of jewel-like colours, sometimes with contrasting centres and petal edges, nestle above mounds of soft leaves. A few have double flowers.


They will grow in most soils, provided they are not too wet or dry, in sun or light shade. In containers, use multi-purpose peat-free compost with added grit or perlite.


They do not do well on very limey (alkaline) soil or on soil that is prone to drying out. You can improve the soil with organic matter. They will not flower in deep shade.

Did you know?

Although some plants are capable of surviving after their first year, flowers in subsequent years are likely to be smaller and fewer in number, so plants are best replaced each year. The fairy primrose, Primula malacoides, has sprays of fragrant flowers on long stems and is often sold as a houseplant. Again, discard after flowering.

Growing guide

Primroses and polyanthus we recommend

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Useful advice

Bedding plants and displays

Bedding plants and displays

Container maintenance

Container maintenance

Containers: summer selection

Containers: summer selection

Growing plants in containers

Growing plants in containers

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