Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When should I plant my Primulas?

I think the painted concrete urn sums up Primula Lollipops. It is a classic of the 50's & 60's but sadly not as popular as it was. There are good reasons for the demise of the concrete urn, but not so for the Primula other than it is a plant that takes its time to achieve its potential. 'Aint that the way of things? So it is my contention that Primula malacoides is the flower for the "slow food movement". Treat them right, give them time and the reward is worth every minute. Pansies may be prettier up close but I believe nothing matches Primulas en masse.

Primula Lollipops is the mix of a series including Gillham's White, Ruby Queen, Carmine Glow and Lavender Lady. Classics of the seedling industry. Primulas like sunny positions and well drained soil, no different to all the other flowers we grow. They are also exceptionally resistant to pests and diseases...EASY to grow. But! They are quite particular about when they get planted. In Melbourne, I believe the ideal window is beginning of March to the end of April. Nothing stopping you planting before or after, but these two months are the pick. In fact I'll go as far as suggesting we institute a new tradition: plant your "Primulas on the Easter weekend".

Planted earlier, the plants will often struggle in hot February weather so they're unlikely to flower any sooner than plantings completed up to a month later. Planting after the end of April is a bit like not cooking the Osso Bucco long enough, all the ingredients are there but you miss the magic. The Primula plant will flower according to season, it waits for the days to lengthen and the nights to start warming so choosing a planting time is mostly about allowing just the right time for a strong rosette of leaves to form that will support the multiple umbels of 'candelabra' flowers. Once the weather cools in May and into June the plants just don't develop fully before the flowers start to develop.

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