Primula are an easy to grow group of perennial plants which come in many different colours and shapes. Many people thinking of Primula will bring to mind the popular Polyanthus types illustrated left, but in fact 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 on line and in garden centers 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 Primular vulgaris, the lovely 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 ever green, or semi evergreen.
Primula vulgaris, common name primrose looks lovely in a natural setting such as 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 also 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.