In the wild, primroses are colonising plants that gradually spread from an original clump.


By dividing the clumps, gardeners can take advantage of this tendency to spread to get new plants for free.

Summer through to autumn is the best time to divide them, but you can also try this with newly bought plants, too.

Primroses need to be divided fairly frequently and single crowns of a nice, chunky volume will establish well. Within a couple of years they can be divided again.

Watch Monty Don demonstrate how to divide primroses in the Gardeners' World clip:

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You Will Need

  • 10cm pots
  • Multi-purpose compost, enriched with home-made compost or leaf mould where possible

Step 1

Teasing apart the roots
Teasing apart the roots

Lift your plant from the ground or empty it from its pot. It's best to do this on a cool, moist day. Gently tease clumps apart, discarding the old, non-productive centre.

Step 2

Trimming the primrose roots
Trimming the primrose roots

Trim back roots to 10cm to encourage the formation of fine feeding roots.

Step 3

Planting the newly divided clumps in compost
Planting the newly divided clumps in compost

Plant the clumps in soil enriched with home-made compost and/or leaf mould. Water well.

Where to grow primroses

All primroses enjoy growing in the same location and conditions. Aim to provide the conditions they'd grow in, in the wild, with ample moisture, a bit of shade and humus-rich soil. 


Primroses to grow

  • 'Red Tomato' – with its small, yellow eyes, this unusually coloured polyanthus has the daintiness of old-fashioned forms
  • 'Wanda' – one of the first coloured primroses. Widely loved for its magenta flowers and looks lovely planted with our native primroses (Primula vulgaris)
  • 'Gold Lace' – this polyanthus was bred for competition. The yellow centre is surrounded by chocolate brown petals with neat, even markings
  • 'Lady Greer' – a dainty, understated polyanthus, with pale-cream, slightly belled flowers clustered at the top of stems
  • 'Garryarde Guinevere' – an outstanding old Irish primrose. Dark-leaved beauty with lilac-pink blooms and a robust constitution
  • 'Miss Indigo' – the blooms of double-form primroses last a long time because they're sterile. A lovely flower, though not accessible to bees
  • Modern polyanthus – flowers are held up on chunky stems and come in a kaleidoscopic range of colours
  • Modern hybrid primrose strains – bred to flower freely, even in winter, their large blooms come in a wide range of colours