Primroses are any of the flowering plants that belong to the genus Primula and the family Primulaceae. There are around 490 – 600 species in the group, many of which are firm favorites amongst gardeners for their showy flowers!
These plants can be found growing in bogs, forests, and meadows in the Northern Hemisphere, and tend to prefer climates with cool summer temperatures. They should be grown in shady conditions, and well-drained, moist soils.
Depending on the species, they can bloom in winter or spring, with Primula coming from the feminine diminutive of the Latin word “primus” which means “first”, no doubt about its early flowering season!
These showy plants are a great choice for containers as well as garden beds and borders. They look fantastic planted en masse with other primroses, or in a mixed spring-time display. Plant them in rock, woodland, cottage-style, and informal gardens, as well as patios, balconies, and city planting schemes!
Unique Primrose Varieties To Add To Your Garden
Once you know how to care for primrose, here are the beautiful primrose types you can grow:
#1 Bear’s Ear (P. auricula)
Primrose auricula, commonly known as Bear’s Ear, is a beautiful clump-forming primrose species. It is low growing, only reaching around 8 inches in height, producing umbels of fragrant blooms that rise above the pale green foliage on slender stalks. Its flowers are typically yellow, however, many wonderful cultivars have been bred in a wide range of rich shades and bi-colored varieties!
Dill is a spectacular P. auricula cultivar that grows as tall as 6 inches. It is an alpine variety that suits cooler temperatures. It produces clusters of bicolored flowers in spring that have purple-red petals tipped with pure white and adorned with white centers. This primrose variety is a top choice for an alpine garden but also looks lovely in rock gardens, cottage-style planting schemes, and patios.
Another stunning primrose flower, Gwen grows up to 6 inches high and is a spring bloomer. This evergreen perennial is a great choice for cooler environments and looks lovely in rock, cottage-style, and alpine gardens. It has clusters of deep purple blooms tipped with pure white and decorated with pure white centers. The clusters rise above the rosette of pale green foliage on upright stalks.
#4 Lincoln Bullion
Lincoln Bullion is an eye-catching Primula variety. This primrose cultivar has stunning double blooms that are rich yellow gold. Its flowers grow in clusters that emerge in spring atop short stalks. They sit just above the rosette of grayish-green foliage. Double auricula plants do best in cooler environments and will do a fantastic job of bringing some springtime color into the garden! Plant them along cottage-style garden beds and borders.
Nymph is a fantastic double primrose variety with beautiful flowers! It is low growing, reaching a maximum height of 6 inches, with a rosette of gray-green leaves. Its blooms are borne in spring in clusters atop short stalks and are cream with the faintest flush of purple. They look great in cottage-style beds and borders, but will also grow well in containers, making them a top contender for patios or city gardens!
#6 Rebecca Baker
Rebecca Baker is another delightful double-flowered primrose! It is a compact plant only reaching 6 inches high and produces clusters of rich red flowers in spring. Plant them under deciduous shrubs such as rose bushes to allow for their color to shine through in spring while the shrub is bare, but giving it some added protection from the summer heat once the bush has grown.
#7 Candelabra Primrose (P. candelabra)
Candelabra primroses are stunning plants that grow between 1 and 3 feet high. They have strong, upright stems that can have several whorls of flowers. These plants are hardy and do well in damp shady areas such as in bog gardens, alongside streams, or for pond landscaping. Their blooms come in a variety of bright shades such as pink, yellow, and orange!
#8 Common Primrose (P. vulgaris)
The common primrose, also sometimes referred to as the English primrose, are low-growing perennial woodland plants. They are early bloomers and can flower in December through to May, making them one of the first flowers in the garden each year! Their blooms are pale yellow with golden yellow centers and sit on top of a rosette of leaves.
#9 Danova Bicolor Pink
Part of the Danova Series, Danova Bicolor Pink is a small plant that grows as tall as 6 inches with a final spread of just under 8 inches. This primrose has large, showy blooms that are wonderful for adding a splash of color to balconies or patios. Flowers have overlapping petals with bright yellow centers, ringed with deep pink. The petals are pure white with contrasting deep pink veins.
#10 Danova Bicolor Rose and White
This eye-catching primrose has large, showy blooms that contrast nicely with its rosette of deep green foliage. These plants are a wonderful choice for some early spring bedding and look sensational planted en masse along borders either alone, or alongside other brightly colored primroses. Flowers have white petals, edged with hot pink, and have a central golden yellow star.
#11 Danova Blue
Danova Blue is another wonderful addition to the Danova Series. It has large purple-blue flowers with an eye-catching sunshine yellow central eye. This primrose variety is fantastic for growing in pots and when planted alongside other Danova Series members make for a breathtaking display. Plant it alongside Danova White and Lemon Yellow for a bright patio container!
#12 Danova Cherry with Edge
This primrose flower has rich cherry red petals that are decorated with a thin edging of pure white and have a contrasting bright yellow center. It is low growing at only 6 inches high with a final spread of around 8 inches. Plant it in cottage-style or informal garden beds, borders, or containers!
#13 Danova Lemon Yellow
Danova Lemon Yellow is the perfect primrose to bring a pop of color into patios, balconies, or city gardens! It grows extremely well in containers and looks stunning planted alone or with other primrose varieties. For a really eye-catching display, plant it alongside Danova Blue and Zebra Blue! It has bright yellow flowers that stand out against its rich green foliage.
#14 Danova Orange Yellow
Danoval Orange Yellow is another primrose variety that has vividly colored flowers! Each flower has vibrant orange petals that contrast with its rosette of dark green foliage. Plant it along the front of cottage-style garden borders to liven up the garden, or grow it in containers to bring some lovely spring color into patios!
#15 Danova Pink
Danova Pink is a delightful primrose that has bright pink petals edged with a thin white trim. Blooms have a central yellow heart that contrasts nicely with its bright pink petals! Plant this variety alongside other Danova types for a bright and colorful display.
#16 Danova Red
This fantastic primrose flower has bold red flowers decorated with a bright yellow central eye. Its blooms are rounded with overlapping petals. It is relatively compact at 6 inches tall, with a spread of 8 inches. Use it as spring bedding in cottage-style or informal gardens, as well as in containers in city or patio gardens!
#17 Danova White
Danoval White has wonderful pure white blooms that have bright orange-yellow central eyes. These flowers stand out amongst their rich green foliage and are large and showy. Plant them alone or alongside other primrose plants for a bold display, or grow them with other early bloomers such as snowdrops and daffodils!
#18 Megan Elcora Blue
Megan Elcora Blue is a member of the Megan Elcora series noted for their large and uniform flowers. This primrose variety is stunning in containers and grows well in cooler conditions. They can begin flowering as early as February and have a final height of roughly 6 inches. Its blooms have white petals that are fringed with purple and have a yellow blotch at the base, making up a central yellow star!
#19 Cowslip (P. veris)
P. veris, also known as Cowslip, is a semi-evergreen primrose flower that works extremely well in wildflower, meadow, or woodland gardens! It grows as tall as 10 inches, with long stalks that bear loose clusters of nodding, bell-shaped blooms. These flowers are fragrant, 0.6 inches wide, and are a lovely yellow!
#20 Sunset Shades
Sunset Shades are a lovely P. veris variety that has brightly colored flowers! This easy-to-grow primrose reaches heights of 10 inches with a maximum spread of 12 inches. Its fragrant, bell-shaped blooms come in tones of red, orange, and copper, and will grace the garden in mid-spring. Plant it alongside shady garden borders for an extravagant show of color!
#21 Drumstick Primrose (P. denticulata)
P. deniculate or the Drumstick Primrose, is a herbaceous perennial that grows up to 1 foot high. Its small flowers grow in dense rounded clusters that rise above its foliage on sturdy, upright stems. These blooms come in shades of purple and have contrasting yellow eyes. Flowering over spring and summer, the Drumstick Primrose is a lovely addition to rock, cottage-style, and informal gardens.
#22 Japanese Primrose (P. japonica)
The Japanese Primrose (P. japonica) is a herbaceous perennial that works well in shady cottage-style garden borders. It grows as tall as 18 inches, with long sturdy stalks that bear whorls of beautiful flowers from late spring to early summer. Its blooms are reddish-purple, with a darker central base.
#23 Apple Blossom
Apple Blossom is a delightful Japanese Primrose variety that has pretty pink flowers! It blooms from late spring to early summer, producing 2-6 tiered whorls of pale pink blooms with darker red-pink centers. This primrose variety is the perfect choice for a cottage-style garden alongside other low-growing types in various shades of pink!
#24 Polyanthus Primrose (P. x polyantha)
Polyanthus Primroses, sometimes referred to as P. x polyantha, are naturally occurring hybrids between P. veris and P. vulgaris. They have been highly cultivated for centuries, producing a large variety of flower colors. These hybrids have rich green leaves and produce flower clusters of 4-20 flowers. They can reach up to 1 foot high, with an even wider spread due to their tendency to form colonies.
#25 Crescendo Blue Shades
This polyanthus primrose is a short-lived perennial that is often grown by gardeners as an annual. It grows as large as 10 inches, blooming over winter and spring. Plant it in city and patio gardens to add some flamboyant color to container displays, or use it to underplant roses and other deciduous shrubs. Crescendo Blue Shades has umbels of large blue-purple flowers adorned with conspicuously bright yellow eyes!
#26 Crescendo Bright Red
Another member of the Crescendo Series, this primrose plant is clump-forming and will grow as tall as 8 inches. It has rich green foliage that accentuates its bold, colorful flowers. These blooms are a vivid shade of red and are decorated with a bold yellow center. Plant it alongside brightly colored pansies and tulips for a cheerful bedding scheme!
#27 Stella Scarlet Pimpernel
This hardy primrose flower grows just under 1 foot tall and can bloom as early as late January. It has beautiful scarlet red flowers adorned with a dark red base and a conspicuous bright yellow eye. This variety is perfect for adding a splash of color to winter displays and for brightening up container gardens.
#28 Zebra Blue
Zebra Blue is perhaps one of the most eye-catching primrose flowers! It is a compact variety growing between 6 and 8 inches tall and is a top choice for beds and borders or underplanting shrubs and bushes. It also works extremely well as a standalone specimen container plant due to its bold coloration. Zebra Blue has 2-inch flowers striped with purple-blue and white, decorated with a vivid yellow center!
Missouri Botanical Garden, Primula (polyanthus type)
The Royal Horticultural Society, Primula Candelabra hybrids
The Royal Horticultural Society, Primula acaulis