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Home > Plant Care Guide > Species

Orchid primrose (Primula vialii) Care Guide

Orchid primrose (Primula vialii) is a small perennial woodland plant which is often grown in cooler climates. With a variety of colours including red, white and yellow, it is very popular in gardens across Western and Southern Europe in particular. The orchid primrose is a pretty flowering plant which does not require much care and will remain happy and healthy as long as it is grown in partial shade and the soil is kept moist. Because it is deceptively hardy with stunning blooming, the orchid primrose is perfect for those new to gardening.

Quick Care Guides

  • Does my orchid primrose need fertilizer?
  • What temperature is best for my orchid primrose?
  • Should I prune my orchid primrose?
  • How much and how often should I water my orchid primrose?
  • What kind of soil is needed for my orchid primrose?

Condition Requirement

Water and Hardiness

Native to mountainous regions of the temperate and subtropical northern hemisphere, orchid primrose will thrive in temperatures around 2 - 20 ℃, as long as it is grown in partial shade. While it can happily survive in temperatures up to 26 ℃, if the temperature exceeds this, the orchid primrose will start to wilt and die. It is an incredibly hardy plant and will most likely to survive even the harshest of winters.
The orchid primrose is a blooming plant which adds a variety of colour to garden borders or containers. While they are very adaptable, you can ensure that they thrive by checking that the soil can hold moisture without being waterlogged.

Sunlight

Orchid primrose flowers in spring because it prefers indirect sunlight and cooler temperatures. So it is recommended to provide your orchid primrose with partial sunlight in a slightly shaded area. While they can grow in full direct sunlight, this may lead to shorter blooms and a faded colour to the flowers and foliage of the plant.

Soil

In the wild, the orchid primrose is typically found in woodland areas. Because of this, the orchid primrose requires nutrient-rich soil which can hold moisture, yet does not become waterlogged. To achieve the optimum soil, it is recommended to use a peaty or loamy soil with a pH of 6.5, so slightly acidic.
The orchid primrose can also grow in poor quality soil, but it is recommended to mix in organic mulch with the soil. A good mulch can be made from a mixture of rotten leaves and compost.

Care Guide

Planting

Orchid primrose can be planted in either your garden or a container outdoors and indoors. It is recommended to plant your orchid primrose from seedlings in autumn, so they are ready for the coming spring. Whether you are planting your orchid primrose in a container or the garden, make sure the hole is around the same size as the root ball. Orchid primrose should be planted just deep enough that its foliage rests at soil level and once planted, firmly press the top layer of soil into place. Then, make sure to generously water straight away to help the plant settle.
When planting in your garden, find a shelter (a taller plant or other things that can provide a shade) for orchid primrose during its growing season. If your orchid primrose is in containers, place it somewhere partially shaded. It is recommended to leave at least a 10 cm gap between the plants. this ensures that there is adequate air circulation around the foliage. Because of this, make sure your container is large enough for these conditions.

Water

Orchid primrose requires lots of water to maintain their vibrant, delicate flowers loved by gardeners across the world. You should water your plant every morning and apply additional watering to it when it is heat and dry in summer. In warmer climates, make sure to water your orchid primrose every other day or so as, if the soil is left to dry out, your orchid primrose will quickly begin to wilt. If you are growing your orchid primrose in containers, then be careful to avoid overwatering your plant as this may lead to root rot. A good tip is to water your orchid primrose as soon as the top level of soil feels dry.

Fertilizer

Many people who regularly use mulch with their orchid primrose do not use fertilizer as it is not needed. Saying this, a light usage of organic, water-soluble fertilizer can encourage stronger flower colour and a slightly longer bloom. If you are using fertilizer, it is recommended to use only once per month at the beginning of spring and water the plant lots afterwards.

Pruning

The orchid primrose can grow up to 10 cm and reach an ultimate spread of 10 cm. Because they bloom once a year, they generally do not require much pruning. Many do remove any dead foliage or wilted flowers throughout the spring for aesthetic purposes.
You can remove any dead flowers throughout spring to encourage more blooms for the next flowering season. this can be done by plucking off the flowers from the top of the stem. Depending on the climate, some people cut their plant back to one-third of the size after the orchid primrose has flowered. Doing so can encourage a second blooming in summer, although this is rare. In late autumn, you should cut the orchid primrose to the ground. this will encourage the growth of the plant for the coming spring and hopefully lots of vibrant flowers!

Propagation

You can propagate orchid primrose both from a cutting or from seeds. Both are easy to do and come with high success rates. It is recommended to plant your seeds in autumn to early winter in small planting pots. plant the seeds 6 mm into the soil and cover with a fertilizer, such as vermiculite. Place these pots outside in a covered area until they germinate and water regularly. You can continue to grow these orchid primroses throughout spring and summer and then plant them in the garden at the beginning of autumn. A good tip is to cover the base with a good amount of mulch once planted to help them settle quicker. In their first winter, make sure to cover the plant when the ground starts to freeze to help them climatize.
To propagate this plant through division, carefully dig up your orchid primrose and tease the roots apart. Then gently cut the plants roots apart and cut the roots to around 8 - 10 cm long. this will encourage the plants to establish a hold in the soil. Afterward, plant both of orchid primrose in nutrient-rich soil, lightly pack the soil around the plants and water them both. It is recommended to divide your orchid primrose at the beginning of autumn on a cool day.

Seasonal Precautions

While the orchid primrose is hardy and can survive in cold climates, it is also very happy with being replanted depending on the season. Some choose to dig up their orchid primrose in autumn to bring it inside for the winter to avoid the frost. this may actually cause more harm to your orchid primrose as the hot conditions inside a house can dry out the soil.

Common Problems

Why does my orchid primrose die before summer?

Orchid primrose is a flowering plant which blooms at the beginning of spring. Mostly because it prefers colder climates, this plant will have already bloomed and wilted before the beginning of summer. Try not to worry that your colourful plant will not be here in summer and enjoy its scent and bloom as a signal of the start of spring instead!

Why are the flowers of my orchid primrose pale?

The flowers of your orchid primrose should be vibrant in colour. If this is not the case, it may be down to either too much sunlight or insufficient soil drainage. Check and remedy both environmental conditions and the colour of your flowers will be back in no time!

Why is my orchid primrose not flowering in spring?

If your orchid primrose has not flowered at the beginning of spring, do not worry as it may be just a little delayed. If it had been a very cold winter with frost, this might have caused the blooming of your plant to begin later. Likewise, if it had been a warm winter, then you may experience your plant flowering quicker.

Pests and Diseases

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a disease which leads to plant deformity and stunted growth. Because the orchid primrose requires lots of moisture, it is susceptible to this disease. If you see patches of white or grey dust on your orchid primrose, then it may have this disease and should be treated immediately. To treat powdery mildew, you should increase air circulation around the plant or use a fungicide spray to kill the remaining spores.

Crown Rot

Crown rot disease is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil, mainly when the ground is wet and does not drain quickly. Crown rot causes dry rotting at the lower levels of your plant and can easily be missed until it is too late. When the crown rot progresses, it will cause stunted growth, yellow foliage and ultimately death to your orchid primrose. this disease is, unfortunately uncurable, so prevention is the best form of attack. Spot the early signs of crown rot when the lower levels of your plant turn dark coloured and show signs of decay. Remove the infected plant immediately and consider mixing your soil with parts of a loamy soil to encourage better drainage.

Other Uncommon Pests or Diseases

Moreover, there are some less common pests and diseases listed below that need your attention:
  • Leaf Spot
  • Primula Rust
  • Grey Mold
  • Root Rot
  • Aphids
  • Mealy Bugs
  • Snails and Slugs
Orchid primrose (Primula vialii) Orchid primrose (Primula vialii)

Scientific Classification

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