Auriculas are alpine plants, prized for their showy, jewel-like blooms and are traditionally displayed in individual pots on shelves in ‘theatres’.
Related to the common primula, auriculas have rosettes of semi-evergreen foliage topped by upright stems with circular flowers in bold colours. They come in a variety of colours and patterns with ornamental foliage that sometimes has a pale powdery dusting known as ‘farina’. There are many different types and cultivars that auricula fans collect avidly. These include show, alpine, double and border cultivars. Show types include green and grey-edged flowers, while alpines are either gold- or light-centred. The border types are less fussy and better suited to ordinary garden conditions.
More Grow Guides:
Take a look at our handy auricula Grow Guide, below.
Where to grow auriculas
Auriculas need alpine growing conditions, which means free-draining soil in a cool, airy spot, out of the midday sun. One of the reasons auriculas have been traditionally grown in theatres, is to give plants the cooler outdoor conditions they require, while still providing some shelter from extreme wet and sunshine.
Auriculas are traditionally grown individually in terracotta pots. These often have a tendency to dry out, so use a mix of one part grit to three parts soil-based compost to prevent this.
These spring-flowering plants can propagated by division. Wait until after the plants have finished flowering, and they have produced three or more offset shoots. Gently pull the offsets away from the plant and repot into a mix of soil-based compost and grit. Follow our step-by-step guide to dividing auriculas.
Vine weevils are the biggest pest for auriculas. Look out for tell-tale nibbles on the foliage, or tug at plants regularly – plants with roots affected by vine weevil will pull up easily because the roots previously anchoring them in have been severed. If vine weevil is present throw away or burn.
Caring for auriculas
Being alpines, auriculas need a careful watering regime. This is why most are grown in pots rather than in the bare ground, to maintain a free-draining soil environment. In spring, plants benefit from a dose of high nitrogen fertiliser, followed by weekly watering with tomato fertiliser during the flowering season. Water directly into the soil to avoid damaging the leaves. In winter, keep watering to a bare minimum. Remove any dead or loose leaves as your find them, to prevent rotting.
Five auriculas to grow
- ‘Laverock Fancy’ – a classic alpine auricula with a strong stem, bearing a cluster of ornate, yellow-centred flowers, surrounded by white, red and green
- ‘Gwen’ – a classic white-centred auricula with purple and pale mauve scalloped petals
- ‘Angostura’ – a rich purple double-flowered cultivar. Peer inside the folds of wavy petals to see a secret gold strip at the centre
- ‘Pang Tiger’ – is a ‘white fancy’ type of auricula. The flowers have a dark maroon border, with a white and yellow centre, dusted with powdery ‘farina’
- ‘Gold-Laced Group’ – a Polyanthus primula with flowers in shades of dark red to near-black, edged with gold ‘lace’
- More primulas and auriculas