The primrose is a small herbaceous plant with colorful flowers. The name primrose derives from the Latin “primus”, that is first, referring to the very early flowering of these plants; in fact, primroses are the first plants to bloom and we can find them in the fields immediately after the snow has melted. The primrose is native to Europe, Asia and America. In our country it is very widespread, both as a spontaneous and cultivated plant; it is generally grown in pots as a balcony or terrace plant, but we also find it in gardens where it is used to embellish flower beds and create splashes of color. Primroses have a height ranging from 20 to 40 cm; they have leaves arranged in a rosette, which are covered with hair, rounded and with long petioles; they have numerous flowers with five petals, of different colors, white, pink, purple, red, yellow.
The primrose should be kept in a bright place, or even in partial shade; it should never be exposed to direct sunlight, which would damage it. The optimal temperature for the growth of these plants is around 13-14 degrees; they cannot stand the heat, so during the summer it is preferable to keep them in a cool place with a temperature not exceeding 16 degrees; fears the intense cold, so the minimum temperature should never drop below 7 degrees.
The primrose does not need a particular soil; the important thing is that the substrate is light, rich in organic substances and above all well drained, since this plant does not like water stagnation; sand can be added to the soil to promote drainage.
The planting of primroses should be done in autumn. The plant is extracted from the pot, keeping its earthen bread whole; a fairly deep hole is dug and the plant is placed there; then it is covered with other earth, compressed and finally watered abundantly. Repotting should be done every two years, in autumn; the plant is transferred to a slightly larger pot than the previous one, with its bread of earth, since the roots of the primrose do not like to be disturbed, and more earth is added.
The primrose must be watered regularly; in summer it is advisable to water abundantly with water at room temperature, always keeping the soil moist, but not soaked; care must be taken to avoid water stagnation, which is not appreciated by the plant. In cold periods, irrigation should be reduced. When watering it is preferable not to wet the flowers, as they could get stained.
Fertilization of primroses must be carried out from when the first flowers begin to appear and for the entire duration of flowering, in other periods it must be suspended; it is advisable to use a liquid fertilizer for flowering plants, which must be diluted in the water used for watering and which must be administered every two weeks.
The reproduction of primroses occurs by seed, in spring. The seeds are placed in a container with earth and sand and covered with a plastic sheet; the container should be placed in the shade at a temperature of about 12-14 degrees; after two weeks the seeds will germinate, at this point the plastic sheet is removed and the container is placed in a brighter place; when the new plants have become large enough, they can be transplanted into single pots; they will be planted in autumn and will flower the following year. The multiplication of primroses can also take place by division of the tufts in autumn, at the time of repotting; the new plants must be planted immediately.
Primroses do not need a proper pruning; just eliminate the dry leaves and damaged parts; faded flowers must also be eliminated, in order to stimulate the growth of new flowers and prolong flowering.
Primroses bloom from March to the end of May; the flowering is abundant, the flowers have five petals and are very colorful, they can be white, pink, purple, red, yellow. Flowering will be prolonged if the withered flowers are removed.
The primrose can be attacked by aphids, which nest among the leaves and can damage the plant; in this case it is necessary to intervene by washing the leaves with a sponge, in order to manually eliminate the parasite, or by using a specific insecticide. Excessive humidity can favor the appearance of gray mold on the leaves, due to a fungus; the remedy consists in allowing the excess water of the soil to dry up and treating the plant with a specific fungicide.
It is recommended to buy primroses during the flowering period. Before buying them, it is preferable to observe them to check that the plant does not present diseases and parasites and dry or damaged parts. Plants in good health, with abundant flowering and bright colors, should be purchased.
Among the approximately 500 species of primrose we can mention: Primula veris or odorosa, which has toothed leaves, arranged in a rosette and covered with hair, and yellow or white bell-shaped flowers; primula vulgaris, which is the most widespread spontaneous species in our woods and which has given rise to many hybrids of different colors; Mealy primrose, which has flowers arranged in an umbrella and light green leaves.
The primrose is mentioned in Shakespeare's "Winter's Tale" where it says: "... pale primroses dying unmarried ...", referring to the fact that primroses bloom in early spring, when insects are still few, so many of them are not pollinated. An ancient legend tells that St. Peter threw the keys of heaven from heaven; in the place where they fell the first primroses were born; for this reason these plants in England are called "bunch of keys".