Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 1100 Primula vulgaris

Common Names: primrose, common primrose Family: Primulaceae (primrose Family)
Image Gallery

All of the primroses pictured on this page are of the Polyanthus type.
A pretty pink primrose


The common primrose grows with an open rosette of semi-evergreen obovate leaves up to 10 in (25 cm) long. The leaves are often wrinkled, downy beneath and their edges are toothed or scalloped. The flowers are tubular, usually pale yellow, in some cases fragrant, and borne in clusters of 3-25 on short stalks that rise just 6 in (15 cm) or less above the leaves. Each flower is about an inch (2.5 cm) across. There are hundreds of cultivars and hybrids in a wide range of colors, including some with double flowers.


Primula vulgaris occurs naturally as a wild species in western Asia and southern Europe where it grows in partially shaded situations in thin woods. One of the most beloved wildflowers within its range, common primroses often form bright yellow carpets in shady springtime woodlands.


When replanting, be sure to keep the root crown just above the soil surface. Light: Common primrose does best in partial shade. Container plants should receive bright, filtered light, but never full sun. Moisture: This common garden flower likes a humus rich, moisture retentive soil, but not one that is water logged. Many types are grown as house plants and best potted in a mixture of four parts soil based potting mix to one part peat and one part sand. Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 - 8. The common primrose likes cool weather. It doesn't do well in hot climates. Indoors, window sills are usually better than a warmer spot in the house. Propagation: The primroses can be propagated by dividing, rooting stem cuttings, and by direct seeding on the soil surface. These are short lived perennials and are at their best when divided every couple years.


The primroses are beautiful little flowers best suited for woodland gardens, rock gardens, along paths and in discrete beds. They can be lost among larger, more boisterous plantings. Common primrose and other members of the Polyanthus type are favorites as indoor potted plants. A happy indoor primrose will produce lots of brightly colored flowers during the winter. Keep them on a window sill that doesn't get direct full sun and they will brighten the dreary winter days.


The primroses (genus Primula) are a large and horticulturally important group of flowering plants. The more than 400 species are divided into several botanical sections. The thousands of hybrids and horticultural selections can be grouped into five main types: Auricula type, with ear-shaped flowers; Candelabra type, with tiered flowers on stalks; Acaulis type, with very short stems; Juliana type, which are small; and the Polyanthus type, with numerous flower clusters. The common primrose and many hybrids developed from it are included in this last type, which is further subdivided into numerous Series.

Steve Christman 2/17/09

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Primula species profiled on Floridata:

Primula vulgaris

( primrose, common primrose )

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