Primrose flowers belong to the Primulaceae family and have a variety of 400-500 species. Its scientific name Primula comes from the Latin word primus which means “first” or “early” because they’re the first flowers to bloom in the spring. They’re an important source of food for butterflies especially the Duke of Burgundy Butterfly while people in the past used it for treating paralysis, rheumatism, and gout.
In the Middle Ages, primrose flowers were used for concocting love potions. In Germany, the first girl to find a primrose in Easter is believed to be married that same year. In the UK, they celebrate Primrose Day on April 19.
Alba Plena (Primula vulgaris)
A variety of the Common Primrose, this is pure white in color and usually grows as a perennial. It has a clump-forming habit and blooms in early-Spring, growing to roughly 6 inches in height. It is also perfect for inexperienced gardeners and those new to Primrose flowers, in large part because it is low-maintenance.
Bumble Bee (Primula vulgaris)
Blooming in early-Spring and fairly low-maintenance, this Primrose flower needs sandy, clay soil and pH balance of 5.6 to 6.0, or a slightly acidic footing. It has lush green foliage and petals that are bright-yellow trimmed in black. They do best in partial shade and are perfect for zones 3-8.
Candleabra (Primula beesiana)
Also called a Bee’s Primrose, this flower has deep-pink to purple petals with beautiful yellow centers. They grow up to 2 feet high and thrive in environments that are damp and shady. Their blossoms are bright and beautiful, and they bloom in late-Spring to early-Summer.
They have also won several international flower awards, and they look great in garden beds, and alongside water gardens or ponds.
Candleabra (Primula bulleyana)
Also known as the Bulley Primrose, this flower is brightly colored and lives a very long time. They are a semi-evergreen perennial with clusters of beautiful, one-inch-long golden-yellow petals and medium-green leaves. The winner of several international flower awards, this type of Candleabra grows 2 feet high and looks great in borders, beds, and cottage gardens.
Candleabra (Primula pulverulenta)
Also called the Powdery Primrose, it has petals that are bell-shaped and deep crimson-red in color. It gets up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet across, and it has elegant-looking, leafless stems that are sturdy and last a long time. The stems and flower buds have a silvery-white layer on them, which is why they are described as powdery, and they look great as an edging plant or alongside ponds and streams.
One of the easiest tall Primrose flowers to grow, the Candleabra is attractive to butterflies, but not to deer and rabbits.
Candleabra (Primula x bulleesiana)
This is a hybrid flower, native to China and the Himalayas. It thrives in a damp, shady environment and grows up to 2 feet tall. With a spread of up to 18 inches wide, this form of Candleabra is deer-resistant and looks great in cottage gardens or as borders, as well as alongside ponds and streams. The petals are delicate and come in colors that include terra cotta, salmon, red, lavender, rose, cream, and purple.
They are deer-resistant and can tolerate wet soils easily.
Common Cowslip (Primula veris)
With brilliant yellow petals and fresh green leaves, this type of Primrose adds beautiful color to any shade garden, and it is great for cottage gardens, containers, and regular flower beds. The Common Cowslip is low-maintenance, virtually disease-free, and butterflies and bees love it. One of the things that makes them a little different is that it only breaks its dormancy with a little bit of chill, so sowing them in late Summer or Fall will enable them to bloom fully the following Spring.
It has won several international flower awards, and deer and rabbits ignore it.
Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
A truly stunning flower, it is upright, has purple-tinged stems and petals that are bowl-shaped, lemon-scented, and bright yellow. It grows up to 5 feet in height, and one of the most interesting aspects of this flower is that the entire thing is edible, including the stems and petals. They are perfect in naturalized areas such as wildlife gardens, prairies, and meadows, and they can grow even in dry temperatures and poor soil.
Most uniquely, this plant’s oil offers a variety of health benefits, including relief from menopausal symptoms.
Drumstick (Primula denticulata)
This plant consists of many flat, 4-inch-wide blooms that are usually white, pink, lavender, blue, or deep-purple. They have wrinkly, lance-shaped leaves and are native to China. Each flower has a yellow center, giving it a striking, contrasting look, and they do best in either full sun and partial shade.
They get up to 12 inches tall and have won several international flower awards.
English Cowslip (Primula veris)
With basal leaves and stems that get up to 10 inches high, these bell-shaped, downward-facing flowers are a very cheery yellow, and they bloom in the Spring. They can also come in colors such as rust, orange, and red, and they have a light fragrance for you to enjoy. Their leaves are deep-green and they like moist, but well-drained soil.
English Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
In a beautiful shade of light-yellow with dark-yellow centers, the English Primrose is found throughout the United Kingdom and parts of Europe. On 8-inch-tall stems, their single flowers bloom in the Spring, and even though they come in a few other colors, yellow is what most people think of when they think of this flower. It prefers light shade and soil that is well-drained and rich in organic matter.
Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)
Blooming profusely from late-Spring to early-Fall, this flower consists of delicate pinkish-white petals and is very attractive to birds. They get up to 2 feet tall and look great in rock gardens, coastal gardens, and wildflower gardens. The Evening Primrose has petals that look like silk and are deer-resistant.
They also seem to be free from serious diseases and insect problems, making them easy to grow and low-maintenance.
Francesca (Primula vulgaris)
Easy to grow and therefore perfect for beginning gardeners, the Francesca has a beautiful lime-green color and a bright-yellow center, and its petals have a very attractive look with becoming, frayed edges. The petals are very fragrant, and the flower prefers moist soil that doesn’t dry out.
Giant Cowslip (Primula florindae)
Blooming from early- to late-Summer, the Giant Cowslip gets up to 40 sunny-yellow blooms per stem, and they can grow up to 4 feet tall. They are one of the largest and the most fragrant of the primrose flowers, and they stay upright and beautiful all season long. The winner of several international flower awards, this type of Primrose is virtually disease-free and is the perfect flower to add if you want to lighten and brighten up your garden.
A low-growing type of Primrose, its petals are dark-purple in color and have large, deep-green leaves. Perfect for zones 7-9, the Granny Graham is perfect for people who love purple, and they make great edges, borders, and hanging baskets.
Japanese Primrose (Primula japonica)
This is a deciduous perennial in colors such as white, purple, deep- to light-pink, and red, so it really brightens up anyone’s garden. The Japanese Primrose grows up to 18 inches tall and has a spread of up to 12 inches, and it looks especially attractive when you plant a lot of them together. They are intense-looking, eye-catching, and have a wonderful fragrance, and they do a great job of coming back year after year.
They also tolerate wet soil, and butterflies love them.
Juliana (Primula x juliana)
A hybrid flower, they remain very small in size and may only get up to 2 inches in height. They come in colors that include a bright-red with bright-yellow centers, so they add a lot of color to any garden. Perfect for borders, the Juliana comes in several different varieties and blooms in the Spring.
A sturdy, truly eye-catching type of Primrose.
Kisoana (Primula kisoana)
With beautiful blooms in bright magenta, this type of Primrose does best in moist soils and either sun or partial shade. If they surround large trees, they do especially well, and in fact, within two years they often surround the entire tree, in part because they send out runners that multiply and cover areas up to two square feet in size.
Orchid Primrose (Primula vialii)
An unusual species, this type of Primrose consists of tiny petals on a long, cone-shaped structure. The petals are light purplish-pink at the bottom and red at the top when in bud, and they grow up to 18 inches high. The leaves are spear-shaped and light-green in color, and they are low-maintenance as long as you cut them back after they flower.
They are resistant to rabbits and deer, and they look beautiful when planted in cottage gardens, under-plantings, and containers, as well as alongside ponds and water gardens.
Ozark Sundrop (Oenothera macrocarpa)
Also called the Missouri Evening Primrose, it is a sprawling variety and definitely an eye-catcher, getting up to 18 inches wide and up to 12 inches tall. It is a low-growing perennial, and its bright-yellow petals have a very subtle, light scent. The flower has won several international flower awards, and it looks great as edging, groundcovers, slopes, containers, and rock gardens.
It is also resistant to deer.
Paradise Buttercup (Primula vulgaris)
With bright-yellow petals and bright-white tips, the Paradise Buttercup is truly stunning. The flowers are great in vases and for use as a dried flower, and they grow up to 6 inches high. Their evergreen foliage has a mottled look, which also looks handsome with the bright-orange or creamy-tan varieties.
They do best in full sun or partial shade.
Paragon (Primula vulgaris)
This is a special hybrid that comes with light-pink or lavender petals and yellow centers. They are cheery-looking and can brighten up anyone’s garden, and they are deer-resistant as well. Butterflies and other wildlife love this flower, and it is both easy to grow and low-maintenance.
Polyanthus (Primula x polyantha)
This is a hybrid flower and was bred over 300 years ago. With elegant stems and leaves, and petals that are yellow with a large dark-yellow star in the center, the flower blooms about a foot tall and blooms in the Spring. It is also one of the easiest Primrose flowers to grow, so if you’re new to the growing of these flowers, this is the one to choose.
Siebold (Primula sieboldii)
With lavender or light-pink petals, it is a delicate flower that sits atop a very slender stalk. It does best with morning sun and afternoon shade, and it prefers soil that is sandy and dry. The Siebold does great as a border plant, and if you plant it among Spring bulbs, you can create a truly amazing look for your garden.
These flowers are perfect for zones 7-9 and have a beautiful, soft-pink color, delicate-looking petals, and small yellow centers, not to mention large, dark-green leaves that contrast with the flower and make it stand out even more.
Perfect for zones 7-9, these flowers are velvety soft and deep crimson in color. They have large, light-green leaves to contrast with the petals, and they are low-growing and perfect for borders and edges.
Viridis (Primula vulgaris)
Blooming in early-Spring, this flower can grow in almost all conditions to roughly 6 inches high. They are low-maintenance, hardy, and they prefer sandy, clay soil that is slightly acidic. A very good plant for beginning gardeners.
Things All Primrose Flowers Have in Common
- They love partial shade and full sun, especially in areas that have cool summers.
- They grow best in soil that is humus-rich, neutral or acidic, and consistently moist, which means you should never let the soil get too dry.
- Other than cutting back after it flowers, the plant is very low-maintenance and easy to care for.
- Primrose flowers are deer-resistant, and many are also resistant to rabbits and diseases.
- They look great with other primrose flowers, ferns, irises, and other types of greenery.
- They can grow from 8 to 25 inches in height.
- They are one of the first flowers to bloom in the Spring and can even bloom in the Winter.
- They come in a wide variety of colors, including purple, blue, pink, white, orange, red, and yellow.
- Primrose flowers often grow in clusters on long stems, with up to 30 or 40 petals on each stem, giving them a dense, full look.