Sunday 29 May 2016

My favourite nectarine is a primula

'Nectarine' a double flowered primrose
Although I grow some primulas successfully they have not naturalised in my garden by self seeding as much as I had expected. The lower part of my garden is quite wet for long periods and most primulas like copious moisture. Unfortunately some species just don't seem to like my fine sandy soil.

I do manage to naturalise a few primulas
My lack of success certainly seems to apply to primrose and polyanthus. They survive a year or two when I plant them but then they just fade away. It would seem that much of the gardening world has similar experience as all year round primroses 'walk' in vast quantity off garden centre shelves. Many gardeners in actual practice grow them as annuals or perennials. An ideal nurserymans's plant!

Primroses and especially polyanthus are often rejuvenated by division, I was delighted yesterday to see that a villager had planted some spare polyanthus divisions on the village plot where last Winter’s flooding had killed out some plants

My failures do not apply to double primrose, Primula vulgaris 'Nectarine'. This has survived in my garden six years now. Perhaps significantly it grows in a tub where it is not forgotten, never dries out or gets smothered in the open ground by aggressive neighbours. It is never dehydrated by hedge roots or trees and in full Summer can be placed in light shade.

Now in June it needs to be hidden away in the nursery. It would be a good time to divide it

It flowers twice a year for me. Typically it comes into flower sometime in February although this does depend on the kind of Winter. It gives me ten weeks of colour before I tidy my tub away to my little nursery where the plant goes semi dormant. Come late August it bursts into life to gives me another three months before more severe Winter weather brings an end to its season. Perhaps it is able to flower so long because as a double flower it does not set seed.

Regular readers will know that all my tub plants are grown in my own sandy soil and they are fed by YaraMila fertiliser applied as a very light top dressing two or three times a year. (In truth when I remember or should I judge that my plant needs further nutrition).

Although I do not remember ever dividing my 'Nectarine' I do know that normal primrose and polyanthus benefit from division every few years when old plants can be rejuvenated.

These primroses have survived on a grave in Worsbrough cemetery for twenty years now. They are never divided but rejuvenate themselves by self seeding
I have transplanted a few primroses to a wilder part of the cemetery and they have rewarded me by self seeding around
Garden primroses have been extensively hybridized for many years. New varieties come… and go. The genetic variation in breeding has come from Primula vulgaris, Primula vulgaris sibthorpii and Primula vulgaris balearica. Regular readers will know that hybridization fascinates me and I wondered if Nectarine’s good constitution was the result of any novel genes from a different primula species. No luck when I searched on the net but I did find that 'Nectarine' was bred by primula enthusiasts breeders David and Priscilla Kersley. It is one of a series of double primulas marketed as the Belarina series. Apparently the petals are edible and can be used for cake decoration.
I don’t suppose they taste as good as a nectarine.

Whoops I have noticed from my pictures that the plant is spotted with leaf hopper damage. It is of very little consequence

Moving pots around
An advantage of containers is that your plants can be shifted to compose attractive groupings. I am not sure if I have quite succeeded?

Nectarine and pittosporum

My hyacinths have ‘gone over’ but a backcloth of Corydalis flexuosa remains

Dicentra cucullaria does particularly well in tubs

A further note on leaf hoppers

More correctly called jassids you will get some curious pictures if you do a net search for images as more exotic species are used in fishing! It’s about the size of an aphid and you will have to be quick to find the culprit as it immediately hops away! My poor picture is of a static nymph stage in its life cycle.
Leaf hoppers are to be found on a wide range of plants but are usually of little concern
If you google ‘leaf hopper’ you will gets loads of pictures of froghoppers! That’s ‘cuckoo spit’ and quite different!

Mottling caused by jassid 'flies'(leaf hoppers)
The damage caused by leaf hoppers is a faint mottle on the leaf surface and is usually insignificant. If I had not been writing this post I would not know I had it!
If badly grown already stressed plants succumb to leaf hoppers it can be controlled by most general purpose aphid killers

I have previously posted about growing Dicentra cucullaria and Corydalis flexuosa
I have gone on about my Yaramila fertilizer several times.


  1. I think it must be Jassid flies that attack my Thyme every year. Something seems to strip the outer layer off all the leaves. It starts with the mottling you describe, but gradually gets worse so that the Thyme appears grey rather than green - and of course it dries up and usually dies!

    1. It might very well be the sage leaf hopper which attacks thyme. It would be great if you could get some pictures up on your blog one day!
      My thyme tends to die after its second Summer anyway.

  2. That is a really great colour Roger. Unfortunately many of the species primulas that I grow are fairly short lived or deteriorate quickly unless divided, this must happen in the wild as most set copious amounts of seed.

    1. I thought you might be quick off the mark, Rick, as a well known primula lover.
      I am not generally a great one for dividing plants routinely but some primulas do seem to be rejuvenated by dividing

  3. Very interesting post Roger. I am working on a primula post as well (on how I go about dividing them). There are some varieties I have had for years but on the whole I am not as successful with doubles as with single.

    1. I look forward to your post Alain. I wonder in view of Sue's comment whether you divide your primroses.

  4. I can't remember splitting the native primroses that I grow on our allotment other than when I planted them by splitting about half a dozen plants . They seed themselves quite prolifically and I transplant the seedlings. I must admit not really being fond of the double flowers although your Nectarine is a very lovely colour. I prefer the native primroses. Sometimes people will plant just one and wonder why they never self seed not really realising that they do cross pollinate. I wrote a post recently which you may remember about needing to have thrum eyed and pin eyed primulas in order to set seed. By the way I planted a corydalid last year which promptly died on me. Do they need special treatment?

    1. I agree about the native primroses and yes they will often be a clump of seedlings.
      My main experience is with dividing polyanthus although without division one would be unable to propagate the doubles and named varieties of primrose. Nor do I need to divide my oxslips which also seed freely.
      Can't help with corydalis - there are so many species, right from the thuggish Corydalis lutea through to the highly delicate

    2. I failed to mention Sue that I enjoyed your pin eye/thrum eye gem. I am preparing my own post on the thrum/pin situation for my hybridity series.

  5. Very nice Primulas. Makes me wonder why I have none.

  6. It's a wonderful genus Jason! Perhaps you have too dry conditions? On the other hand some such as auriculas are very tolerant of dry (as all as wet!)


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