Primrose feature image

Primroses have come a long way from their woodland roots. Rather than the classic ‘primrose yellow’ shade, we now have every colour of the rainbow, bar green. Oh no, actually, there’s a green too!

Primroses overview

On first glance, you may think these new hybrids are glossy and have no place in your garden, but don’t forget they are a sure-fire hit for a super chilly winter garden, and an essential early source of nectar for bees and pollinating insects.

I took a visit to the Spring Trials at wholesale plant supplier Ball Colegrave, and found enough Primroses to fulfil my wildest dreams! Ruffles, spots, dots, stripes – they’ve got it all!

Before we begin, we need to ascertain the differences between Primroses and Polyanthus… as you can see from the photo below! Polyanthus blooms crown in clusters on top of a single stem, whilst Primrose blooms each have their own stem.



Primroses vs Polyanthus

To complicate things, some varieties are known simply as Primula, especially the Belarina Series. With it’s pompom double appearance, it’s genetically far from the primroses of yesteryear, so uses the Latin expression, Primula. Things might get complicated now they have a double-flowered polyanthus, but more on that later…

1. Primlet Series


A feat of breeding, the Primlet Series offers low cost rosebud Primroses from seed, fun for the customer to grow and cheaper for outlets to offer for sale as plants. The colour range has swollen in the last few years, with solids as well as picotee forms. The tightly packed buds are glorious, and often to eqaually handsome ruffled blooms!

2. Primula Belarina Series


Bred by the Kerley family in Cambridge, UK, these double-flowered Primroses were a market changer. An excellent impulse purchase, they are more than that once they reach the garden though, some plants report eight months of nonstop blooming in a cool spot of the garden! Wow. and the colour range has become gargantuan too, with as many shades as the petunia family. A Petunia for the winter, perhaps! The ‘Primula’ moniker denotes it’s unique standing in the marketplace too.

3. Belarina Polyanthus

Polyanthus Belarina series

Polyanthus Belarina series

Wow! The Kerleys have achieved something awesome with this new strain, Belarina style pompom blooms with a single stem, the style of traditional Polyanthus. This now makes a cracking windowsill plant, which probably isn’t where the breeders were heading with this.. An equally great value garden or rockery plant though!

4. Alaska Series

Primrose Alaska Mix

Primrose Alaska Mix

Known as the most cold-tolerant, and with foliage so glistening it’s often photographed as ‘blue’ when frost sits on top. The colour range is akin to a candy store, and I can see quite a few notable colour combo’s simply get lose in the crowd. Shame! But, an excellent performing Primrose for the consumer, blooming under sheets of ice, sleet, hail, rain and so on…

5. Jupiter Series

Echoing the flower form of the ‘Wanda Series’ from the olden days, this up to date variety has a distinct eye to each flower. The red-eyed ‘Jupiter’ is my favourite!

6. Envy

Primrose Envy

Primrose Envy

The closest to the traditional primrose shade, the new Envy Series is variable from seed, but this has been celebrated by making it a mix, featuring ruffles of every degree. It makes a robust outdoor border plant.

7. Antique Silver Shadow

Primrose Antique Silver Shadow

Primrose Antique Silver Shadow

Some of the more unusual colours can be a little bit marmite.. perhaps that’s the case with ‘Antique Silver Shadow’. These types of blooms and their colouring can be notoriously difficult to show on a paper catalogue page, and it’s probably selling better on the garden centre bench, I’d say!

8. Polyanthus Fire Dragon

Polyanthus Fire Dragon

Polyanthus Fire Dragon

Polyanthus aren’t bred as heavily as Primroses, but there are a few new ones to look out for. Fire Dragon is one of the best, with firecracker blooms, held neatly on those traditional stems, like a chilli dipped lollipop!

9. Blues Designer Mix

The ‘Zebra Blue’ Primrose took the market by storm, in a similar way to ‘Night Sky’ Petunia, and photos of it’s denim stripes attract 1000s of instagram likes! I pulled together a unique blend of all my favourite blues yesterday, give it a name already…!

10. Fried Egg!

Primrose Fried Egg

Primrose Fried Egg

A curiosity, which also seems to divide opinion online! Shining bright blooms with a yolky centre!


Which is your favourite? Leave a comment in the comment box below!

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  • Jane Smith

    I like them all. The colour the Alaskan give is good, but the Fire Dragon is dramatic,then I also like the Belarina series as they are double flowered. It’s like trying to say which child is your favourite.

    February 15, 2020
  • Compost Happens

    So far, here in NYS, USA zone 5, for the last few years I have been trolling Lowe’s (big box store) waiting for them to mark down this year’s Belarina variety! I got the Nectarine one this morning, I think but it is 97°F outside right now, so I am waiting for it to cool down a bit before venturing out to plant it. I have Amethyst Ice and the creamy white kind and I love them all. Plus the unnamed ones that I’ve gotten here and there. I like that they all seem to have different bloom times so there’s always something to admire for many months.

    June 28, 2021
  • b

    Dear Sir , I wanna know where can I buy seeds of primula belarina series, we are a young plants production company

    February 16, 2022
  • so there is no way to get alaskan series primrose in U.S? How to go about on this

    March 31, 2022
  • I wish I had seen this article sooner, but your readers in the USA may be interested to know that the American Primrose Society (APS) is a good source of seed for primroses and other primula. APS is also a good source of information on growing primula and networking with other primrose lovers.

    August 7, 2022

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