April 12, 2010

Primula denticulata -The Drumstick Primrose

In bloom today across the North East is the Himalayan Primrose, or the Drumstick Primrose, Primula denticulata. Another primrose which is easy as pie to grow, but difficult to find in most nurseries. If you think primroses sound intimidating as seed-grown plants, thus hardy species might be worth trying. The seeds require some cold treatment, which does require some knowledge, although it simply means that the seed needs to spend some time in a refrigerator, the best way I think to grow these from seed is by ordering pre-chilled seed ( such as the Gold Nugget seed from Jelitto Seed.).
Yes, the site is in German, but select the English version and try some of their pre-chilled seed. It's not too late to plant some in a pot, and transplant out late this summer for bloom next spring. Most primula are very cold hardy ( to zone 3) so it's not the cold, in fact, they need the cold. These plants you see in bloom were started from Jelitto seed last March, and just look at them! Don't be limited to what you find at the home center. Be adventurous!

Primula denticulata is easy to grow, prefers some damp soil or moisture, and since it is native to western China, Nepal and Tibet, is very cold hardy. Some of the best plants I have ever seed were in Alaskan gardens. It emerges early, and is frost resistant. The color palette ranges through violets, reddish purple, and white. These are so easy from seed, that I often throw away all of my extras every year. Not terribly long lived, since my garden is not as damp as they prefer in snow-melt areas, they still perform well for a few years, then pass away. I start new packets every year in late winter, so by September, I have many mature seedlings to replant. The trick is to never let the seedlings dry out, and to grow through the summer in lightly shaded conditions in 4 inch pots.


  1. I have just a few and love, love, love them!

  2. I'm loving your daily posts! Those Primula denticulata are great looking.

  3. One of my absolute favourites, though over here the slugs love it too.

  4. I just found one of these today and had no idea what it was. I decided to write about it as well on my blog. In the process I found your site again. I had found it several months ago but then changed computers and lost all my bookmarks. Now I'm so happy to have found you again. I LOVE your photos!


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