Primulas in Summer

Primula flowers in August are rare, and tend to look confused, like these late Victorians…

… or chewed up, like this out-of-season polyanthus, a treat for slugs.

tasty primrose


This is the time of year to look for seeds, not flowers.  Here are Primula (Dodecatheon) meadia pods ready for harvesting.

Dodecatheon seed heads

Dodecatheon x ‘Aphrodite’ gone to seed

dodecatheon seed pods


Primula polyneura seed pods breaking open:


A stem of Primula auricula seeds, right before it was cut and carried to safety:

The white-farinose buds are next year’s plants, and the seeds in the pods may be, too.


And Primula sieboldii seed pods, still green:

primula siedboldii seed pods


This Primula alpicola had three tiers of flowers (not all at once). The picture shows (along with interfering Siberian iris leaves) the entire middle tier, the base of the top tier, and some of the taller seed heads of the bottom tier. There should be some seed to collect. This plant is var. violacea (blue), and there are white alpicolas nearby, so the seed may be a bit of both.

primula alpicola tiers of seed pods


Late summer is also time to plant out seedlings. Here is a new bed of auriculas. They will be interplanted with later-flowering primulas. These plants were sown in winter 2011-12, not this past winter. They will be starting their third year next spring when they flower.

new auricula bed

More auriculas, waiting for a home. The under-producing strawberry bed, perhaps?

tray of young auricula primroses=

It will soon be time to make decisions about small seedlings. After the slugs have retreated, a few of these (the largest) will be planted out, some in the peat bed, some in one of the alpine gardens or pans, and the rest will be left in their trays (tofu containers) in the cold frame over winter. They look small to be put out in open ground over winter, but they can still do a lot of growing in the cool autumn months, and I will give them a light cover of dry leaves to protect against drying winds before the snow falls. I am always a bit amazed to see little plants in April looking bigger and brighter than when I’d last seen them in November. They don’t just survive winter. Some of them really seem to like it.

primula seedlings

Two of several trays of seedlings started this winter now needing to be planted on. Top left, a thicket of P deflexa, middle left a couple P rosea seedlings. Right tray, P scandinavia, P egalikensis, and P mistassinica.


These cyclamen pose another problem. They will likely die outdoors in the winter. But do I want to keep them in the house again? I had two survive outdoors last winter; one has produced a single new leaf, and the other just sits with its one old leaf.

cyclamen hederifolium

cyclamen hederifolium=

In the peat bed, the large, late-summer leaves of P denticulata and P japonica feed the developing buds of next year’s plants.

large primula leaves in late summer

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