Primrose (Primula vulgaris) is a plant in the primrose family, Primulaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia, but is grown around the world for its beautiful blooms. While typically grown in gardens as a short-term flowering plant, you can also grow primrose indoors under the right conditions. They are generally easy to care for, making them the perfect choice for those who don’t have a lot of experience with gardening. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful blooms this plant provides .
Primrose Care Overview
- Place the pot in a bright spot, but not in direct sunlight.
- Water the soil whenever it feels dry to the touch.
- Fertilize once a month with balanced plant food or use a slow release fertilizer.
- Pinch back old flower buds to extend bloom length.
- Keep the plant cool for optimal growth.
- Consider moving outdoors in the summer for better blooms.
- A healthy primrose has long flower blooms for multiple weeks in early spring.
It’s also important to note that primrose is often grown as a short term flowering plant. They are allowed to bloom for a few weeks, then discarded and replaced with new plants next year. This is due to the fact that primrose won’t always flower multiple times even if provided with proper care.
This is one way to grow them, but you’re always welcome to continue growing them past their first bloom. We’ll look at ways to encourage multiple blooms later on if you choose to follow this route.
Container, Soil, and Planting
You will need a shallow container that is at least 6 inches deep. Primrose tends to grow out more than down, so choose a container with enough room for your flowers to spread out. Either plastic or clay are great, affordable choices. In either case, make sure your container has proper drainage as primrose is very susceptible to root rot in containers.
Whichever variety you are growing, the soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter. Most commercially available potting soils will work just fine. To improve drainage, I also find it helpful to add in some rocks to the bottom of my container, or mix in a few cups of cacti soil into my normal soil. These both help to improve drainage in the soil, and reduce the risk of overwatering your primrose.
Place the plant in the container so that the crown (where the leaves meet the stem) is level with the soil surface, be sure to bury the roots all the way down into the soil. Water thoroughly and wait for the water to drain before adding more. You can also add some fertilizer here to improve soil nutrients. I prefer a slow release style that will last most of the growing season, but any water based fertilizer will work fine.
In general, primrose does best in bright, indirect light. This means that it should be placed in an area where it will receive some direct sunlight throughout the day, but not be in direct sun for more than a few hours.
If you are growing primrose indoors, then a spot near an east or west-facing window is ideal. You can also place it near a sunnier spot, but be sure to move it back a few feet to avoid the most intense sunlight. However, if you cannot provide enough natural light, then you will need to supplement with artificial lighting.
If you decide to use artificial lighting, primrose will do best with fluorescent or led lights. These lights provide the right amount of light without giving off too much heat, which can be damaging to the leaves. If you are using incandescent bulbs, make sure they are not placed too close to the plant, as the heat can scorch the leaves. Primrose does poorly in hot locations, so avoid using lights that get too warm for best results.
Water and Humidity
Primroses like moist but not waterlogged soil, so watering once or twice a week should be enough. You want to avoid keeping the soil overly moist for too long as this can lead to root rot.
When watering, do so slowly and wait until you see the water begin to leak out of the drainage holes of your pot. This will help to ensure that the roots are getting adequately watered and that the soil is thoroughly saturated with moisture. Then, wait to water again until the top 1-2” of the soil is dry to the touch.
Make sure not to water the leaves, as this can cause them to rot. If the leaves do get wet, be sure to dry them off as soon as possible and don’t allow water to sit on them.
To help maintain humidity, you can group plants together or set them on a tray of pebbles filled with water. Allow the soil to dry out between watering, but don’t let the plants wilt. You want to maintain a decently high level of humidity, but simple measures like this or misting them is enough.
Temperature and Fertilizing
The ideal temperature for growing Primrose indoors is between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, although going a bit cooler than this at night is okay. If the temperature is too hot or too cold, the plants may not grow properly or may die. Make sure to keep an eye on the temperature in your home and adjust it accordingly.
Getting too hot is a big issue for primrose, especially in summer. This is why you want to place them out of direct sunlight as this contributes to a large increase in heat. Too warm, and the plant will begin to wilt, yellow/brown, and not grow properly.
Primroses don’t require a lot of fertilizer to thrive. A light application of a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, once a month should be enough. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can harm the plants. Alternatively, and my personal suggestion, is to give it a slow release fertilizer at the beginning of spring. This will have enough nutrients to last the entire growing season.
Primrose will generally bloom without issue in the first year, but some gardeners report having trouble in subsequent years. This can be frustrating, but there are a few steps you can take to help encourage blooms.
First, make sure you’re providing the proper care for your plant prior to the blooming season and during it. Without proper care your plant won’t have enough energy to bloom. A big factor here is unsurprisingly sunlight. Too much can burn out your plant, which stresses it and can suppress blooms. Many gardeners make the mistake of not seeing blooms, so they move their plant to a location with direct sunlight which is actually counterproductive.
Secondly, look to give your plant a period of dormancy of about 2-3 months in the winter. During this time, move your plant to a cooler location in your house and reduce the amount of sunlight it gets. You’ll also likely cut back on water, and should not be applying any fertilizer during this period. This period of dormancy mimics nature, and helps to keep your plant in its natural rhythm.
Lastly, many gardeners report that bringing their plant outside during the summer, along with a period of dormancy mentioned above, helps encourage blooms the following year. When doing this, make sure to bring your plant indoors if it gets too cold as low temperatures and frost will kill your plant.
While the above can help, it’s not a guarantee that your primrose will bloom in subsequent years. If it doesn’t, your plant can still be perfectly healthy. It comes down a bit to luck, which is why many gardeners will treat their primrose as annuals.
Growing Primrose Indoors
Primroses are relatively easy to care for and their beautiful blooms really make a garden shine. Their relatively long bloom time is also a great bonus, allowing you to enjoy your work for many weeks in the spring.
My primrose plant is looking a little limp. What can I do?
If your primrose plant is looking a bit limp, it may be getting too much water. Allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again. Also, make sure you are not fertilizing too often – once a month should be plenty.
How often should I water my primrose plant?
When the soil feels dry to the touch, it is time to water your primrose plant. Water at the base of the plant, taking care not to wet the leaves. Allow the soil to dry out in between waterings, check the top inch of the soil and only water again when it’s dry.
What type of light does a primrose need?
Primroses prefer bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause problems with too much heat.