Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My favorite plant in the garden this week is: Primula bulleyana (?)

It was a tough choice, but my favorite plant in the garden this week is a yellow primrose that I grew from seed collected while working in someone's yard in high school. As the owner couldn't remember which primrose it is, I've had to give it my best guess, Primula bulleyana. Another species, Primula chungensis, is very similar but, according to some sources, does not have the red buds of Primula bulleyana.

Either way, it's a fantastic primrose that doesn't seem to be much bothered by slugs and blooms later than the common grocery store primroses, with multi-tiered candelabra-type flower stalks. The cheery, bright green leaves are held mostly off the ground and the wavy, serrated margins provide some textural interest.

The largest patch of this primrose. Maybe if I fertilized them or watered more during the summer, they'd have the really big flower stalks I've seen in pictures, but they do well enough on their own and I'm a bit lazy with both of those things. 

This species, like most primroses, prefers moist soil rich in organic matter, and partial shade. Where I grow it in front of a bed of rhododendrons, they receive a few hours of sun in the morning and open shade the rest of the day. In the cool, wet springs of the Pacific Northwest, seeds from the previous year germinate readily. Given the number of seedlings I've seen this spring, I'm surprised there aren't more of these cute little primroses by now and I'm not sure of the reason why. I haven't been home during their bloom season since they really started blooming well. Most of the seedlings may die as the summer dry season progresses or they may be eaten by slugs. Or my parents may have been weeding them out not realizing what they were, but that would mean that they've been weeding.

Small seedlings of this primrose are scattered along the front of the bed near the larger clumps. Hopefully some will grow up and add to the show.
 I love this primrose from leaf to flower. Even the flower stalks have an interesting white mealy coating on them, adding another subtle color to the dazzlingly bright yellow flowers emerging from contrasting red buds.


The stats on Primula bulleyana:
  • USDA zones 5-10
  • Average to moist soil with plenty of organic matter
  • Part sun to bright shade
  • Flower stalks up to 20" tall with multiple whorls of blooms along the stem
  • A tough, easy perennial not bothered by slugs or deer, with 1/2 inch yellow flowers that glow from more than 100 feet away.


As always, the My favorite plant meme is hosted by Danger Garden. Check out what other gardeners are excited about this week!

13 comments:

  1. What a great flower, good choice! I love how the buds start out red, and the flower opens yellow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alison! I love flowers that change colors as they open.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. But that means they would have been weeding...guess there want much of that going on then? It will be interesting to see what the seedlings do for you over the coming months.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll be watching these seedlings carefully to see if they disappear and how. It's not a big deal. A few survive. If they all lived this primrose might be a bit of a weed.

      Delete
  4. A pretty favorite and your new header and background are gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Peter! I've been wanting to change it for a while. I'll be making a few more tweaks.

      Delete
  5. Congrats on the new vibrant background. Funny, I was just thinking yesterday how your move to the PNW may require just that type of change to your site. Recently I found out that primroses could potentially survive a Seattle winter (why didn't it occur to me before I couldn't say); your featured plant is so sweet I'm going to look for one for my own garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I was never really happy with what I had before, so glad I finally made the change! Primroses do very well in the PNW, as long as they get some extra water in the summer. The ones you find in grocery stores (hybrids of Primula vulgaris) can be hit or miss, though, because they've been bred to be seasonal potted plants rather than landscape plants.

      Delete
  6. It's a very pretty primrose. I was surprised to see the zone 10 designation. I'm in USDA zone 10b, Sunset zone 23/24. Looking into it, it appears it may need chillier winter conditions than I get here - and, unfortunately, the water requirement would also be an issue here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I remember correctly, I took the zone information from Annie's Annuals. It probably does prefer cooler climates. Unfortunately most hardiness information is based only on how low a temperature plants can survive, rather than the climate they actually grow well in, including basics like how much cold and heat a plant needs to thrive.

      Delete
  7. Superb photos! I love all the candelabra primulas. It is wonderful how they seed around when they are happy. I do get them all a bit confused though. Beesiana, bulleyana, aurantiaca, pulverulenta etc. I am not sure how to tell which is which.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, chloris! They are hard to tell apart. Even the smattering of information I found was contradictory. But they are so beautiful that I don't care!

      Delete

Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I love hearing what readers think and answering questions. I also welcome suggestions for improvement!