Prim and Proper…the Skinny on Primroses Proper

Primula vulgaris or the Common Primrose is a garden accent that can grace Southern gardens in late winter and early spring. “The first rose” or prima rosa in Medieval Latin is where the name stems from, and the formal Latin name denotes its genus and species commonality. In Europe, these are often the first flowers of spring, the prima roses, and thus the name.

Coastal gardens in the Deep South can grow these throughout the cool season, and zones 7 and 8 gardens in the Deep South can plant these burst of color and fragrance late in the winter season and enjoy them right into spring. February is a fantastic time for primroses in the Deep South; Garden centers and big box stores usually have a great supply of these classic little bloomers this time of year… making primroses fairly accessible.

One thing this Farmer loves to do with primroses is to plant them in containers for indoor enjoyment and then transplant to the garden once they have served their time indoors. I have some majolica birds and tole containers that pair well with primrose color scheme, and yet these phenoms of the plant world look great in blue and white jardinières, julep cups, or good old terra cotta. Find a fun container, and chock it full of these little dynamos. Tabletops, sideboards, and cocktail tables fair well with the addition of primroses.

As in the garden, primroses prefer rich soil, so plant the flowers in a hearty potting soil for your indoor containers as well. While inside, make sure your little showstoppers receive great light and adequate water…don’t drown them…just keep them damp. After serving time for a few days inside, spring your flowers to the garden or potager for a proper planting.

Though, pansies are the quintessential winter bedding flower, primroses can make splash on the garden scene too. Tolerant of some cold, primroses will bloom off and on throughout the winter’s last hours and into spring. Pinching off spent blossoms will encourage more flowers to come as well as keep the plants neat and tidy. I love to plant primroses in pots near door or entrance as heralds of the coming vernal season.

Now as for style, these little firecrackers are quite en vogue members of the plant kingdom. Violet, blues, yellows, oranges, reds, creams, and whites with bands and shades of everything in between. Ruffled petals, hearty green leaves, and a fragrance that is the essence of spring itself makes primroses the a la mode style mavens of flora fashion. The pale yellow specimens boast the strongest perfume…sweet yet crisp and fresh to boot!

And you know those things in life that look so you could just eat them with a spoon? Well, try a fork with primroses! Their flavor is somewhere between lettuce and a bitter salad greens. The flowers too are edible and the young blossoms are used to make primrose wine. Of course, tea can be made with these plants as well. You can garnish a salad or dust a dessert with these little flowers, thus proving the style these flower fashionistas can lend to a meal.

A nominal expense at the nursery, primroses are worth a try inside and outside your home. Just a couple planted and enjoyed for a few days is worth the investment, for these stellar plants will provide a glimpse of spring during a bleak winter’s day and fill the home and garden with amazing fragrance. If all this isn’t enough for you, research the medicinal benefits of primrose oil. Simply put, this Farmer’s psyche is well attended with the sight and experience of primroses, and I wish the same for all my fellow gardeners.

“O fairest flower, no sooner blown but blasted,
Soft silken primrose fading timelessly.”

John Milton.