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English Primrose

Learn about the English Primrose, on this Focus On Flowers.

A bright, pink English Primrose.

Photo: ambert (Flickr)

England has perfect growing conditions for primroses, otherwise known as cowslips.

Benjamin Disraeli was Prime Minister of England from 1874 to 1880 and the primrose was his favorite flower. He gave bouquets of them to his monarch, Queen Victoria, who probably found him quite charming. Buckner Hollingsworth wrote:

“England displays a rose on the royal coat of arms, but she carries a primrose in her heart.”

England has perfect growing conditions for primroses, sometimes called cowslips. They like partial shade and moist soil. They go dormant if they are hot and dry. The plant belongs to the genus “Primula” and the leaves form crinkly green rosettes.

The flowers, in luscious colors, are held in tight clusters above the leaves. To find varieties that adapt well to your growing conditions, it is best to consult with knowledgeable staff at your local garden center.

I have only one (primrose auricular) that is perennial in my garden in Southern Indiana. But every spring I buy some pots at the grocery store, seduced by their vivid colors.

Even though I know they won’t be permanent additions to my garden, I just have to have one on my dining room table and a couple by my front path. Then for a short time, at least, I can pretend to walk down a primrose path.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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