How to Grow Primrose from Seed

Patricia H. Morris shares how to grow primrose from seed, the best variety of primrose to grow, and includes primrose growing advice and tips.

| March/April 1986

You may have heard that these little beauties can't be started from seed. Don't believe a word of it!  

For many years, my neighbor kept a three-foot row of primroses growing at the end of her sun porch. Each spring, with all the certainty of the changing seasons themselves, those three rows would explode into a single mass of sunshine yellow blossoms with buttery orange eyes. And, each spring, I coveted.  

I thought about attempting to grow my own primroses from scratch — until I did some research on how to grow primrose and was advised, over and over again, that the flowers are considered very difficult to start from seed. For one thing, many varieties require a period of postplanting freezing to break dormancy. What's more, I learned that primroses are slow and erratic germinators. In general, starting primroses from seed is not a project generally recommended for the novice flower gardener — which, at that time, I most certainly was.

Then one winter's day, while studying the seed catalogs in anticipation of spring planting, I spotted a listing for something called Pacific Giant primrose, which flowered in shades running from crisp white and creamy yellow through varying hues of blue to satiny pinks and reds. And this variety of primrose, the catalog claimed, was somewhat easier to start from seed than most. I ordered a packet.

When the mail carrier delivered my primrose seeds, I put them aside for the moment and turned my attention to planting my vegetable garden and trimming it with a border of the annuals I had found so reliable and easy to start in years past. But the day finally came when the "sure and easy" planting was done, and I had to face up to the task I'd set for myself.

How to Grow Primrose from Seed: The Great Primrose Challenge

Having experienced, in previous years, the devastating seedling losses that various fungal diseases can cause, I began my planting preparations by carefully washing the tray I planned to use for sprouting the primroses; then I rinsed it with a mild chlorine solution.

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