Primula are easy to grow perennial plants which come in many colours and shapes. Many people when thinking about Primula will bring to mind the popular Polyanthus types illustrated left, in addition to which there are many different types, shapes, sizes and colours of Primula and they are great garden plants.
Within the genus are the Polyanthus group (image left) is the most common, frequently sold online and in garden centres as winter and spring bedding. It is easy to think of these plants just as bedding, but there are some lovely perennial Primula which make great spring colour and early summer colour.
In the first image, top left, is the Primrose group which includes Primula vulgaris, the common primrose which is early flowering. The image centre is of the Candelabra varieties, P. beesiana which is a taller, later flowering Primula. Illustrated top right P. denticulata which as it's name suggests looks like a 'drumstick' and is a very popular Primula to mix with spring bulbs.
P. candelabra are deciduous which means they die back in the winter, but they do return reliably each year for a great spring display and often flower into early summer. The polyanthus and primrose groups tend to be evergreen, or semi-evergreen.
Primula vulgaris, the common primrose looks lovely in a natural setting such as on a bankside, and it will multiple over time. Some varieties of Primula vulgaris are scented and shade tolerant. Whilst many Primulas are low growing the popular Candelabra beesiana will grow up to 60cms and the variety 'Harlow Carr' image below left is tall and has mixed tones of oranges and pinks
The name Polyanthus describes hybrids of P. vulgaris (Primrose) and P. veris (Cowslip) and these plants are normally treated as bedding. Polyanthus are ideal for a spring display, but if you want perennial plants you need to consider the other types of Primulas.