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Primula japonica in bloom.

How to Prune Primrose

Primrose, known botanically as primula, is a genus of spring flowering perennial plants. Primula produce large bright green crenulated leaves that grow outward in a fountain form and small flowers on slim upright central stalks. Primrose are popular for being low maintenance and versatile plants. They are grown in containers, beds and borders, massed in drifts and used as indoor plants.

Groom your primrose plants throughout the growing season. Pluck the individual spent blooms or petals from the larger flower stalk as they brown and shrivel. Inspect the green foliage for any signs of damage, dieback or disease on the leaves. Cut any problem leaves that you find off at the base of the plant with your secateurs.

Deadhead fading flower stalks after all of the buds have opened and completed bloom. Reach into the foliage with your small scissors and cut the stalk at its base where it meets the main stem. The small scissors allow you to see your work in the small plant and prevent cuts that can damage other plant parts. Compost or discard the cuttings.

Prune off dead or dying plant tops in the fall after the first frost and when the foliage has turned brown. Shear the foliage clean off at the soil level with your secateurs and toss into the compost bin.

How to Winterize Primrose

Leave the primrose blooms on the stalks after blooming to allow the plants to reseed. This is the way primrose returns year after year.

Cut the stems back to 1 to 2 inches above the soil level in the autumn to clean up the growing area and prepare for winter.

Lay down a 1-inch layer of peat moss over the primrose growing area to insulate the area during the winter months. Primrose is quite hardy over the winter season and will survive without extensive winterizing.

Brush away any remaining peat moss in the early spring to find new primrose shoots emerging from the soil.

How to Prune Primroses

Remove fading or spent flower heads as they die to encourage and make room for new blooms and keep the plant looking tidy. Cut the individual flowers off on the short, thin stem on the multi-bloom heads.

Inspect the plant each time you water to look for damaged or diseased foliage or flower stems. Cut away any damaged leaves or stems down to the crown of the plant and compost or discard.

Shear off the primrose top foliage in the late fall or early spring in cold climates where the green tops do not overwinter. If you leave the foliage to die back over winter, be sure to remove the dead foliage in early spring so the emergence of new growth is not impeded.

How to Prune English Primrose After Flowers Are Spent

Deadhead individual spent primrose flowers beginning in late spring with first round of bloom and continuing through the summer. Frequent removal of spent flowers will encourage the plant to throw up new bloom buds.

Pinch the dying flowers off by using your fingers to snap or sever the thin green stem from the main flower stalk just above the first pair of leaves, below the bloom. Alternatively, you can use small scissors to make the cut. Look carefully at your work to make sure you are cutting just the small stem from the spent bloom and not into living tissues or adjacent flower bud stalks.

Allow a portion of the spent flower heads to remain on the plant undisturbed to form into seed heads. You can collect the seeds when mature or simply allow them to fall and self-sow into the soil below, propagating more primrose plants at the site.

How to Use Evening Primrose

Purchase only certified evening primrose oil or capsules. The label should state that each recommended dose contains 8 percent gamma-linolenic acid, and is organic. The bottle should also carry an expiration date.

Take evening primrose in 2 to 8 gram dosages. Children should never be given more than half this amount.

Keep evening primrose in the refrigerator after opening. Because it is oil, it can become rancid at room temperature.

Discontinue use of evening primrose if you experience headaches, nausea or stomach pain. Loose stools are an indication that you are taking more than the recommended dose of the oil.

Avoid taking evening primrose if you are on medications for schizophrenia or are taking drugs with blood-thinning effects.