Gardening: A flower for all seasons

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WITH the New Year now under way, why not brighten up your garden and what better way to start than with Primula, the Horticultural Trades Association’s (HTA) Plant of the Month for January.

One of the first flowers of the year, their common name, primrose, derives from ‘prima Rosa’ meaning ‘first flower’.

Whilst most other plants are dormant and with the days being darker, Primula will bring winter colour, beautiful blooms, interest and vibrancy to flower beds and pots in the colder months. Primula is one of gardeners’ favourite early flowering spring plants, as they make for a great colourful display in pots on the patio.

There are more than 500 species in the genus Primula, including auricula, cowslip and oxlip. The most well known is common primrose (Primula vulgaris). Coming in a wide range of colours from bright yellow to pastel reds and blues, this hardy group of plants can also then be planted out in the garden to get a good vibrant display the following spring.

They can be planted in containers, winter baskets and garden borders and can be used very effectively in bedding schemes alongside tulips and other winter/spring bedding plants or planted in blocks of colour. When planting primula in containers, use multi-purpose compost and ensure that they never dry out. It is worth dead heading the plants regularly as this will encourage a longer flowering period. HTA’s David Gilchrist said: “Polyanthus is an old favourite within the Primula species, which has been enhanced by hybridisation giving an improved colour range and hardiness to the plant. Polyanthus is very versatile and can be planted in borders and containers.

“They can brighten up any part of the garden and can be used in partially shaded spots as well.

“Keep moist but not wet, when budding and going into flower feed with high potash feed to keep green and to promote flowering. Try to water underneath or early in the day to allow the flowers to dry out.”

For more details about Plant of the Month, please visit www.the-hta.org.uk/plantofthemonth2013