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Primula: the Joys of Spring and Beyond

Articles: Primula: the Joys of Spring and Beyond

An array of drumstick primulas (Primula denticulata) at the Jensen-Olson Arboretum. Author's photographs.

Primula is one of the three great garden genera. In terms of the number of varieties grown, the income generated by the horticultural industry, or its hold over the hearts and minds of the public, only Rhododendron and Rosa can compare with it
John Richards
Introduction to the First Edition, Primula, 1993

Each spring, racks of Skittles-colored flowers arrive at the big box and grocery stores around the country, providing a welcome splash of color after the drab days of winter. Such a kaleidoscope of color may be the first and only experience that many gardeners have with primroses (Primula). This wide- spread genus lends its name to the family, Primulaceae, the name taken from the Italian word for spring (primavera), as the majority of species bloom at that season. It’s unfortunate that many gardeners view this incredibly diverse genus as full of disposable annuals and reserve bed space for “more interesting plants.” For a long time, I, too, viewed the more common primroses as too pedestrian.

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