Past Articles Library | Starting Primroses for Outdoor Enjoyment
Primroses can be a challenge to start from seed but it is worth the effort. While many feel that this project is not geared for the novice, I feel that this project is excellent as a primer into seed propagation.
The first step in this process is to clean the flats or containers you plan to use. This simple step can prevent many plant disease problems. To do this, just fill a container with water and bleach, place your flats in the solution and let it soak. Then rinse with clear water and allow to dry in the bright sunlight.
Next, you will need to make up a soil mixture. While a commercial variety will work, I have found that this simple combination is worth the effort. A 50/50 combination of sphagnum moss and vermiculite creates a moist planting medium without being too wet.
Once the soil has been made and the flats have been cleaned, the next step is to prepare the planting containers. Fill the flats with soil and thoroughly moisten the soil by place the filled flat in a bucket that has about one-inch of water. Let the flat sit for several hours.
After the soil has sat for a few hours, remove the flat from the bucket and allow it to drain. This will take a couple of hours.
Now you are ready to plant. Primrose seeds are small and only require a very small amount of soil on top. Sprinkle the seeds on the soil surface and top with less than ¼ inch of soil. Once this is done, place the flat in a sealable plastic bag and lay in the freezer for two weeks.
Once the two week period has passed, remove the flat from the freezer, poke holes in the plastic bag and place on a north-facing windowsill. Adjust the placement so that the flat receives indirect light.
In about two weeks, one should begin to see little spots of green. This is an indication that the seeds are germinating. If you are seeing this, it is time to remove the flat from the plastic bag and place on a south-facing windowsill.
Continue to water when the soil is dry. After several “rosettes” form, the primrose seedlings can be transplanted into individual containers.
Harden off the seedlings by moving them outdoors once the chance of frost has passed. During the first days of this process, cover the seedlings with cheesecloth. After a few days, the seedlings can be moved to their permanent location, which should be at least in partial shade. Prior to planting, make sure to add compost and peat moss to the soil before planting.
Primroses can add that perennial touch to troubled areas where shade and soil moisture are a problem for other plants. Just remember, to monitor the soil moisture often, water when needed, and in turn they will reward you with a vast array of color from season to season.