Name: Polyanthus primrose, aka Primula x polyantha.
Type of Plant: This sweet spring flowering plant is most commonly sold as an indoor plant at the time of year when everyone is desperate for signs of spring. From garden centers to supermarkets, you can find polyanthus primroses in mid-winter through spring. The plant is, however, a perennial in zones 3 through 8, and it is most happy in part-shade gardens.
Why I love this: These plants are just darn cheerful, and that alone is reason for loving them. They have round, bright flowers in just about every shade in the rainbow. If you get some polyanthus primroses that are yellow they’re also sweetly fragrant!
A Word to the Wise: Look for plants that have lots of buds in the center waiting to open. You’ll get the longest period of bloom out of a plant that has buds still forming. Once you have the plant at home, don’t let it dry out. Although you don’t want to keep the plant swampy-wet, do be sure that the soil is always slightly moist because if the plant goes dry and wilts those buds are likely to be toasted.
Place your primrose in a bright or part-sun location indoors, and snip off the wilted flowers as they go by to encourage the formation of new buds. Once the flowering has stopped keep the plant going, if you so choose, by fertilizing it every three weeks to encourage the leaf growth. In mid-April plant your primroses in a part-shade garden, or in a bed that gets morning sun.
Note: these plants often go dormant in the summer, so don’t worry if yours disappears. They don’t do well in gardens that go bone-dry, however, so water the area deeply once a week even if the plants are dormant.