Good to Grow: Brighten your garden — and your house — with primrose

I’m antsy with anticipation, wistfully watching the calendar — spring is less than a month away. Seed catalogs are arriving daily, newsletters are full of helpful hints, and I can’t wait.
I must not be the only one. While visiting with a friend this week, I commented on a lovely basket of fresh flowers. It was a clever arrangement of potted primrose and ferns plants. Still in their nursery containers, they will serve to brighten the room now, then in a few weeks, continue to grow in the garden.
Primrose can grow indoors. Pot them in a planter with rich potting soil deep enough to cover their roots. Place them in a cool spot where they’ll receive indirect sunlight, and give them plenty of water with an occasional shot of fertilizer, and they will make a lovely houseplant to provide color in the late winter and early spring.
When planting them outdoors, follow the same guidelines. Find a shady spot with dappled sunshine and plant them there — too much sunlight may cause the plant to wilt. Plan on spacing the plants 6 to 10 inches apart. Primrose will be happiest with well-draining, loose soil. After planting, it might be a good idea to add mulch around the plants and keep them watered until they become established — but even then, primrose are not drought tolerant.
The Common Primrose, or English Primrose, will grow to be anywhere from 4 to 12 inches tall. Don’t be afraid to deadhead the blooms or prune dead leaves. Speaking of the leaves, they have basal leaves. It’s no surprise, given their name, that the basal leaves grow from the bottom of the stems or near the base of the plant.
Basal leaves tend to form rosettes, and you often hear the phrase “basal rosette,” meaning the leaves form a circle around the base of the stem. Generally, the leaves are near the same length and serve to protect the roots of the plant. The basal leaves and pretty primrose flowers — usually in yellow, white or pink — make a neat and tidy border plant and are often found in cottage gardens.
After telling a gardening friend about the primrose topic, she commented, “This brought back memories of my trip to England and all the primula I saw there. They were indeed beautiful and there were thousands of them all over the place.” Leave it to her to throw in a Latin word.
After a quick search of primula versus primrose, I found primrose are part of the primula family. The Latin “primula” refers to the fact they are among the first flowers to bloom in the spring.
Another sign that plants and soil are wandering into our thoughts was the West Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association’s Winter Symposium. The day was filled with guest speakers aimed at supporting the growers and designers throughout the state who make our garden worlds beautiful.
We learned from Scott Beuerlein, of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, and Irvin Etienne from the Garden at Newfields in Indianapolis. Both were entertaining speakers who freely shared their knowledge with the group. Plus, they included a lot (hundreds) of photos — because, really, what’s a garden talk without photos? Not only did I really enjoy the speakers, I have added two new must-see gardens to my road trip list.
Although I attended the design track of speakers. there was also a series of speakers on topics related to managing a business. Topics such as recruiting, branding and workers’ comp were covered, and it was great to see the sharing of ideas to help everyone achieve success. Thank you for the invitation. It was a good day.