Primula pulverulenta

21 of the best primulas and auriculas to grow

Check out our pick of 21 of the best primulas to grow.

Auriculas and primulas come in a variety of colour forms, shapes and sizes. From the standard cowslip, Primula veris, to edged or fancy auriculas, there’s a plant for you, be it in your garden or bespoke auricula theatre.

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In general, primulas grow best in moist, humus-rich soil in partial shade. Some can tolerate full sun as long as the soil they’re growing in is reliably moist. East-facing locations are ideal, providing them with cooler, morning sun and shade in hotter afternoon temperatures.

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Check out some of our favourite auriculas and primulas to grow.


Primula bulleyana

Primula bulleyana
Primula bulleyana

Primula bulleyana is a robust candelabra primula native to China. From spring to early summer it produces warm orange-yellow flowers held in whorls. For best results, grow in full sun or partial in reliably moist, humus-rich soil.

Height x spread: 60cm x 20cm.


Primula beesiana

Primula beesiana
Primula beesiana

Primula beesiana, or Bee’s primrose, is a Chinese species of candelabra primula with pink-purple flowers with a bright yellow eye, arranged in tiers on tall, upright stems. Grow this vigorous species in reliably moist, humus-rich soil in full sun or partial shade. Looks lovely next to a pond.

H x S: 50cm x 50cm.


Primula veris

Primula veris
Primula veris

Primula veris is our native yellow cowslip. It’s perfect for naturalising in lawns or growing as a spring feature in containers. It bears cheery, sweetly fragrant flowers from mid- to late spring. Grow Primula veris in moist, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Perfect for pollinating insects.

H x S: 25cm x 25cm.


Primula ‘Gold Laced Group’

Primula 'Gold-Laced Group'
Primula ‘Gold-Laced Group’

Primula ‘Gold Laced Group’ is one of the best known primulas to grow. This polyanthus primula has flowers in shades of dark red to near-black, edged with gold ‘lace’. It’s a great choice for growing in containers alongside other polyanthus and auriculas. Grow in moist, humus-rich soil in partial shade.

H x S: 25cm x 30cm.


Primula auricula ‘Rowena’

Auricula 'Rowena'
Auricula ‘Rowena’

Primula auricula ‘Rowena’ is an old but lovely cultivar. It’s a light-centred alpine variety with mauve/pink flowers and cream-yellow centres. Grow in moist, well-drained soil in dappled or partial shade.

H x S: 20cm x 15cm.


Primula auricula ‘Lovebird’

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Auricula ‘Lovebird’

Primula auricula ‘Lovebird’ is an older variety raised in 1908. This grey-edged show variety has beautiful serrated green-grey leaves, the colour of which is picked up in the dusty green, white, yellow and black flowers. An eye-catching variety for an auricula theatre.

H x S: 20cm x 15cm.


Primula sikkimensis

Primula sikkimensis
Primula sikkimensis

Primula sikkimensis is a large, elegant species native to Nepal and China. In late spring and early summer it produces pale yellow flowers held in umbels at the top of flowering stems. Easy to grow, as long as it’s planted in reliably moist soil in partial to full shade.

H x S: 90cm x 60cm.


Primula capitata ‘Noverna Deep Blue’

Primula capitata 'Noverna Deep Blue'
Primula ‘Noverna Deep Blue’

‘Noverna Deep Blue’ is a beautiful cultivar of the round-headed Himalayan primrose, Primula capitata. This cultivar has intense, deep purple flowers held in tightly packed clusters, that appear from late spring to early autumn, so it’s a great choice if you’re after flowers over a long period. Grow it in moist, humus-rich soil in partial shade.

H x S: 30cm x 30cm.


Primula chungensis

Primula chungensis
Primula chungensis

Primula chungensis is an attractive candelabra primula with warm, yellow-orange flowers arranged in whorls up the stem. It flowers in late spring and early summer and is best grown in partial shade in moist, humus-rich soil. Like other candelabra primulas, it looks fantastic growing next to ponds and streams.

H x S: 30cm x 60cm.


Primula ‘Inverewe’

Primula 'Inverewe'
Primula ‘Inverewe’

‘Inverewe’ is a stunning candelabra primula with intense orange-red flowers set against silvery stems. This variety flowers in late spring and early summer, and grows best in moist, humus-rich soil in partial shade. It looks especially good planted with pink and purple primulas. This sterile hybrid can be propagated by division in autumn.

H x S: 80cm x 40cm.


Primula sieboldii ‘Manakoora’

Primula sieboldii 'Manakoora'
Primula ‘Manakoora’

‘Manakoora’ is a lilac-flowered cultivar of the Japanese primula, Primula sieboldii. This tough and reliable primula forms a slowly spreading clump and will flower in April and May. Grow it in moist, humus-rich soil in dappled or partial shade.

H x S: 45cm x 35cm.


Primula japonica ‘Miller’s Crimson’

Primula japonica 'Miller's Crimson'
Primula ‘Miller’s Crimson’

‘Miller’s Crimson’ is a lovely cultivar of the Japanese primrose, Primula japonica. This cultivar bears rich crimson flowers held in whorls, from May to June. It grows best in a moist, humus-rich soil in partial shade.

H x S: 45cm x 45cm.


Primula vialii ‘Alison Holland’

Primula vialii 'Alison Holland'
Primula ‘Alison Holland’

‘Alison Holland’ is a white-flowered cultivar of Primula vialii, which is normally two-toned red and purple. Look out for the flowers from early to midsummer. Like most primulas, ‘Alison Holland’ will struggle in hot, dry conditions, so grow it in partial shade in moist, humus-rich soil.

H x S: 50cm x 30cm.


Primula vulgaris

Primula vulgaris
Primula vulgaris

A UK native, Primula vulgaris can be found dotting woodlands and hedgerows in spring. The flowers are brilliant for pollinators and it looks lovely planted with daffodils, cyclamens and snowdrops. Grow it in moist, well-drained soil in partial shade.

H x S: 20cm x 30cm.


Primula auricula ‘Chorister’

Primula auricula 'Chorister'
Auricula ‘Chorister’

Auricula ‘Chorister’ is a charming cultivar with mustard yellow flowers and white centres. Grow it in moist, well-drained soil in dappled or partial shade.

H x S: 20cm x 15cm.


Primula alpicola var. alba

Primula alpicola var. alba
Primula alpicola var. alba

Primula alpicola var. alba is a white-flowered variety of this normally lilac-flowered species. It’s native to Bhutan and Tibet, where it can be found growing on moist riverbanks. For best results, grow it in moist, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.

H x S: 50cm x 50cm.


Primula melanantha

Primula melanantha
Primula melanantha

From eastern Tibet comes this striking black- or very dark purple-flowered species. Primula melanantha flowers in late spring and early summer, and will grow well in a partially shaded spot in moist, well-drained soil.

H x S: 30cm x 15cm.


Primula denticulata

Primula denticulata
Primula denticulata

Primula denticulata is aptly named the drumstick primula and is often available in a range of flower colours, depending on the variety. It flowers from May to June and grows best in a moist, humus-rich soil in partial shade.

H x S: 45cm x 45cm.


Primula florindae

Primula florindae
Primula florindae

Commonly known as the Tibetan or giant cowslip, Primula florindae is a beautiful species with fragrant yellow flowers on tall stems, appearing from June to August. It thrives in moist soil in full sun or partial shade.

H x S: 1.2m x 90cm.


Primula secundiflora

Primula secundiflora
Primula secundiflora

Primula secundiflora is an elegant species bearing nodding, pink-purple flowers that contrast with ‘dusty’ stems. It looks beautiful planted en masse. For best results, grow it in reliably moist, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.

H x S: 45cm x 30cm.


Primula pulverulenta

Primula pulverulenta
Primula pulverulenta

The mealy primrose, Primula pulverulenta is a gorgeous species bearing wine-red flowers from late spring to midsummer. Considered one of the easiest primulas to grow, it needs reliably moist soil, for example boggy soil, in full sun or partial shade.

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H x S: 60cm x 30cm.


Humus explained

Not to be confused with houmous or hummus, humus is the non-living organic matter that results after plants and animals have decomposed in soil. It’s usually dark brown or black due to the high level of carbon it contains. It’s also rich in nitrogen. If you were to mix soil and water in a jar, the humus is the spongy material that floats to the surface. 

You can boost the humus content of your own soil by incorporating well-rotted leaf mould or homemade compost.

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