November 21, 2017

Caroline’s Garden Diaries – The Fairy Primrose : 18.01.13

I’ve just potted up three little plants of Primula malacoides, the Fairy Primrose. They’re very small, having been in my cold greenhouse until two weeks ago, but I brought a trayful of these toddlers in and they’ve been growing up rapidly in the warmth and light of a south-facing window-sill. Even the tiniest ones now have buds, but the larger ones are coming into flower, so I’m potting them up as presents to take when I visit a friend later today.

Primula malacoides used to be a very popular houseplant, but it has fallen out of fashion. I used to grow it every winter in our last house that had a north-facing conservatory where it did well, and I had a whole shelf of beautiful, elegant, fairies in a lovely range of pinks, mauves, and white. The flowers come in whorls, first a tight bud that spreads into a ring of small primrose flowers, then out of the centre of that one comes a second whorl, then a third, and so on up to ten or so, by which time the stalk is leaning over gracefully and you might then want to cut it off and put the still flowering tip into a vase.

As a sign of its decline, Suttons seem to have stopped selling seeds of P. malacoides, and I can only get them from Chilterns Seeds but I’m finding that the range of colours is getting smaller every year; this year, most of the plants have white flowers and the rest are a pale lilac – still very pretty, but I miss the others. Growing them from seed is quite a job, as the seedlings are the tiniest little plants that you ever deal with; I prick them out into dolls-house pots, about an inch diameter, and as they grow, they need potting on two or three times more. I suppose that’s why they are unpopular, too much time and effort. But having potted up over 40 seedlings this year, I had several to give away (perfect timing for Christmas), several to put round the house in place of flowers cut from the garden, and several to take to a plant sale, where I made £5.50; in fact, I hope the Fairy Primrose doesn’t come back into fashion, and I’ll be sorted for Christmas presents.

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Comments

  1. Angela Steele says:

    The little fairy primrose who came home with me from the Dec Saturday social has been flowering continuously on a cool windowsill. I’ve watered sparingly and it seems very happy in it’s new home!

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