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How to Plant & Care for Primrose Flowers

By Katie Jensen ; Updated September 21, 2017

Primrose (primulas) flowers are harbingers of spring, sometimes popping up and blooming before all snow has melted. The bright cheery faces chase away wintertime doldrums. Primulas have rosettes of large oval leaves. The flowers bloom on stalks coming up near the center of the leaves. Fairy primroses carry a cluster of pink, white or purple blooms on a stalk from 6 to 12 inches high. Other primroses have larger flowers in vibrant yellow, pink or red, often with contrasting colors in the throat of the flower.


Choose a spot in the garden that gets lots of water but isn't boggy. Primroses prefer shade to sun but can tolerate some morning sun if the temperatures are cool.

Prepare the soil. Dig the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches, turning over the dirt as you go. Primroses like rich soil, so add compost--about 1 cubic foot to every 3 cubic feet of soil. Then add fertilizer per package directions. Mix the compost and fertilizer into the soil by turning it over and raking smooth.

Plant each primrose, spacing the plants 8 to 12 inches apart. For each plant, dig a hole in the prepared soil that is the same size as the pot. Remove the primrose from its pot. Place the plant in the hole so that the level of the soil is at the same place on the plant's stems as it was in the pot. Firm the soil around the plant by pressing it lightly.


Water your primrose plants as needed. Primroses do not like to dry out. It's better to water too often than not enough.

Fertilize the plants every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer. Try not to get the fertilizer on the leaves of the plants. Gently lift the leaves out of the way if possible.

Remove bugs by hand or with a strong stream of water from the hose. Most pests won't bother primroses.

Deadhead spent blossoms to keep new buds forming. Dead and yellowing leaves may be removed as well.

Dig up the primroses when spring is over if you have hot summers or if your winters are warm. Primroses won't survive high temperatures, and they need winter chilling to rebloom the next year.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Rake


  • Primroses can be started from seed, but it's a challenge. Plant seeds when temperatures are no higher than 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Buy plants when they are blooming so that you can see exactly what colors you're getting.


  • Wear gloves when handling granular fertilizer; it can be irritating to skin.

About the Author


Katie Jensen's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in business and personal finance. Her passion includes cooking, eating and writing about food.