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The primulas are a large family of some 400 species and a large number of cultivars. A surprising number of these are in cultivation. Quite a number can be grown in the open garden, but the majority are specialist plants and are usually grown in pots in an alpine house.

Although the basic flower shape is the same, the primulas is quite a diverse group of plants encompassing nearly all possible colours including blue, brown and green.

There are three basic groups. Those, like the primrose that flower direct from the rosette of leaves, some grouped on one stem such as the polyanthus and auriculas. There are those that have whorls of flowers up a tall stem, the so-called Candelabra primulas. Then there are the other tall stemmed varieties that have nodding flowers that hang in clusters from the top of the stem.

They are mainly grown for their flowers, but some have attractive foliage that is covered in a white or gold mealy powder know as a farina.

Most of the more common types can easily be grown in a moist soil and they prefer to be in a light shade. Many will grow in full sun if the soil is moist enough.


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