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Primula japonica
by Barry Glick
by Barry Glick


Barry Glick has been involved in the plant world since 1954, when at the young, impressionable age of 5, he witnessed Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard on TV) put a cutting of a plant in a glass of water only to sprout roots a few shows later. Barry replicated the experiment with his one of his mother's prized Coleus plants, and as he watched the roots grow, knew that he was hooked for life.

Barry owns Sunshine Farm & Gardens in West Virginia - Zone 5

March 24, 2002

bgPrimulajaponicaPostfordWhite-m.jpg (33449 bytes)
Ahhhh, there's nothing like a colony of Japanese Primroses to bring color to and brighten up a shady area. Here's a plant, that given the right conditions, will bloom in a multitude of shades from pure white to deep red in early to mid Summer. By the right conditions, I mean a cool, moist root run. They are native to sometimes soggy areas in Japan, but do well in a shady, well mulched border in just about any climate.
The tall spikes of flowers start as tight little buds in the center of the plant. Somehow, as if by magic, they start elongating over a period of weeks until there are several concentric rings or whorls of flowers - some blooming, some in bud and some setting seed. They resemble candelabras of sorts and so they have become known as "The Candelabra Primrose"
The Primulaceae family is broken up into sections and the PROLIFERAE section is home to the "Candelabra Primroses", and includes many species such as Primula japonica, P.beesiana, P.bulleyana, P.x bullesiana (cross between P.beesiana + P.bulleyana), P.burmanica, P.pulverulenta among others. 
In late Autumn as is descends into its dormancy, the large crinkled leaves decompose and the plant reverts back to a tight little resting clump. In early Spring the clump awakens and sends up its new leaves. At this time you can dig up the plant and divide it. The rapidly growing roots are almost pure white. Primula japonica will self sow into a spectacular colony if left to its own devices. The seeds are produced in copious quantity and are almost dustlike. 
There are two very famous selections, P. j 'Miller's Crimson', a deep crimson color and P. j. 'Postford White' a pure and brilliant white.

Just the facts M'am:

Kingdom Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons 
Subclass Dilleniidae
Order Primulales
Family Primulaceae
Genus Primula
Species japonica
Common name - genus "Primrose"
Common name - species Japanese Primrose"
Japanese name Kurin-sou
Synonyms none that I could find
Native of Japan
USDA Hardiness Zone zone 5, maybe 4?
Light preference Full shade to light shade
Soil preference Rich in organic matter
Moisture preference Moist to average
Bloom time Early Summer
Bloom color White to red and every in between shade
Foliage Medium green, large and crinkley 
Spread 8" -12"
Height 12" - 36"
Landscape uses Along a stream or in the middle of a cool shady border
Medicinal uses none that I have found

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