Primula Obconica is a reliable bloomer for Winter colour indoors and even outside in very mild and frost-free climates. This pretty Primula is a native to China where it flowers throughout the Winter and well in Late Spring.
Primula Obconica somewhat resembles the common garden primula malacoides. But in this variety each floret can be much larger (2 in./5cm) across. And the flowering stems can attain 30cm/1ft. on very bushy perennial plants.
In some hybrid cultivars the flowers are tightly clustered together to create a colourful ball of candy colour. In other cultivars the flowers are produced in a succession of floral rings elongating up the central stem.
Colours range from pure white, cream, all blues, lilac, mauve, pink, purples, salmon and soft orange and many ruffly bi colours and lovely soft pastels. Foliage is somewhat course or stiff with a lightly hairy texture. Leaves are roughly oval, elliptical or round with irregular lobes, sometimes with soft teeth, folds or fluted indentations.
Some people with sensitive skin can have an allergic reaction when the foliage is handled. Primula Obconica loves a cool room but tolerates extremes that come from artificial heating provided this is followed by cool nights. They do not perform well in sustained heat and dry conditions.
But they are ideal in very bright light, morning sun positions, artificial lighting such as underneath a reading lamp or grow-lamp bulb or tube. Keep them continuously but lightly moist, never wet nor dry. For the most spectacular flowering feed weekly with a soluble plant food specially formulated for flowering indoor plants.
Fertiliser meant for flowering Orchids and especially African Violet fertiliser is perfect for them. Primula Obconicas thrive outdoors with shelter from the worst weather in frost-free positions. They are ideal in cool coastal, Mediterranean and subtropical climates with dry sunny days and cool evenings without excessive temperature extremes or heavy pelting rain.
They are easily started from seed in Late Summer or Autumn. Most people prefer to either purchase them as small seedlings in Autumn and grow them on or simply purchase blooming plants which are relatively inexpensive. These are often treated as annuals but they are actually short-lived perennials which can continue in growth and flowering for two or more years.
But usually they are best raised from new seedlings each year. Sometimes they will self-sow in the garden when grown in the appropriate micro climate. They make wonderful bedding plants, especially for partial sun or beneath the high shade of sheltering trees. Primula Obconicas are ideal basket, container and window box plants for guaranteed Winter colour.
But in most climates wherever Winter is less than benevolent, Primula Obconicas really come into their glory when sheltered from the elements in a sun room, covered porch or bright window indoors.
They have almost no pollen so are low allergenic for most situations, but again be warned that a few people can rarely develop a mild rash when handling the fur-covered foliage.
Still, it’s a small gift guaranteed to brighten even the most dreary of Winter days.
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