Orchid primrose, Primula vialii - plants and care

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Orchid primrose - Primula vialii


  • Type / Family: Perennial. Belongs to the Primrose family (Primulaceae)
  • Flowering period: June to August with pyramids shaped flower candles, which are atypical of primroses, consisting of many small red buds and pink to light purple flowers. Blooms from below
  • Foliage: Elongated, rounded leaves in light green with a clear grain, slightly rolled down toward the edge.
  • Growth: Upright bushy
  • Height: 30cm without, 40 to 50cm with flower
  • Habitat: Partial shade to shady, but not too dark. Also tolerates sunny location when soil is not overheated. Happy at the edge of the pond. Cool, moist, well-drained, lime-free and humic soil
  • Planting time: Anytime as long as the soil is not frozen
  • Cut: spring near the ground
  • Partner: Beautiful in tuffs of 3-5 plants
  • Propagation: Collect seeds (see below collecting multiplication by seeds)
  • Wintering: Winter hardy
The purple-flowered orchid primrose is native to China and does not belong to the orchids, as perhaps thought, but to the primroses. Therefore, the perennial shrubs can also be cultivated well in the home garden, because their occurrence is especially in humid or higher areas. Primula vialii pleases the hobby gardener from May to July.
Primroses are still considered old-fashioned and boring. Gladly thought here at the mention of primroses on grandma's windowsill. But the easy-care, perennial shrubs are better than their reputation and especially well suited for humid areas. Especially the orchid primrose which, as the name implies, is reminiscent of the graceful orchids with its blossoms, delights the beholder in native gardens from May to July with a rich, dark red to violet flower. So the primula vialii should not be missing in any garden bed.


The ideal planting time for the orchid primrose is the spring, but as a perennial Primula vialii can also be planted in summer and into late autumn. It is favorable, if the perennial is acquired on the Internet or in the garden trade, then it blooms already in the first year of the planting. But also own, drawn plants can be used at any time, except on frosty days, in the soil. However, the self-grown perennials often bloom only in the second year after planting. For the optics always several perennials should be planted together. If the Primula vialii are placed in a round of about three to five plants, it looks more graceful, but of course the perennials in the garden bed can also be planted in two or three rows in a row. In this case, care should be taken to a distance between the individual plants of about 50 cm. Otherwise, the following must be noted here:
  • Soil should not be frozen on the day of planting
  • The perennials look beautiful when placed in a group of about three to five plants
  • To do this, dig out large holes in accordance with the root
  • mix the extracted soil with compost
  • Water roots of orchid primrose well before inserting
  • Insert and re-enter the prepared soil and press well
  • give water again and do not let the soil dry out in the next time
Tip: Since the orchid primroses, despite their large water needs tolerate no waterlogging, when planting, whether in the bed or in the bucket, a drainage of pottery shards, stones or gravel should be created before the plants are placed in the ground.


A humid location without waterlogging is ideal for the orchid primrose, because in their native China, they are often found in waters or in very humid areas. So a place in the shade or partial shade is ideal. However, it should not be too dark, because in very dark places, the flowering will be less or less. The blazing sun usually only tolerates them, if enough water is provided. If there is a rock garden or a small pond in the garden, these are the optimal locations for the Primula vialii. Of course, the ground-level perennial can be cultivated with the longer flower stem in a bucket or a balcony box.

Substrate & soil

Orchid primroses prefer a low-limp, humus-rich and well-drained soil. Before the first planting, the soil should therefore be prepared with sand or gravel and a percentage of compost.

Pouring & fertilizing

Orchid primrose - Primula vialii

The orchid primrose does not need much care. In the spring before budding, it should be supplied once with compost or slow-release fertilizer from the trade. However, the perennial prefers moist soil and must therefore be protected from dehydration. Therefore, you have to pay attention to the following:
  • Never let the soil dry out
  • the orchid primrose does not forgive even a short dry phase and is destroyed in the worst case
  • Therefore, water regularly, but avoid waterlogging
  • In the hot summer with a blanket of mulch protect the earth from drying out too fast
  • especially if the orchid primrose has been cultivated in the bucket or balcony box, it can quickly become dehydrated
  • When casting here make sure that even in the plate no waterlogging arises
  • If necessary, empty the plate a few minutes after pouring
Tip: Since the orchid primrose does not like calcareous soils, it should, if possible, be supplied with irrigation water from the rain barrel. Tap water is often too calcareous here.

To cut

A section of the ground-level orchid primrose is not required. Only the flower stalks, which are between 30 and 50 cm high, must be cut after the blossoming of the flowers. However, if you want to save seeds for a new sowing, you should collect the flowers from these flower stems and keep them in a warm place. In addition, all dry or dirty parts should be removed down to the ground before winter.


The winter hardy orchid primroses usually survive a very hard and frosty winter without protection. However, if you want to be sure or if the plants stand in an open location without the protection of a house wall, a fence or a hedge, then these should be covered with a thick layer of foliage. Since the perennial prefers moisture, care must be taken that it does not dry out in cold winter even in winter. When watering in winter, the following should be considered:
  • only pour on frost-free days
  • especially in plants that have not been covered with leaves, the earth dries all around faster, even in winter
  • Shrubs covered with leaves store the water and do not need to be watered in winter
Tip: Make sure that this layer of foliage is removed early in the spring so that the orchid primrose on the first warm days again can drive out again.


Orchid primrose - Primula vialii

The primula vialii can be well-grown with seeds harvested by the hobby gardener himself. Once these have been stored in a dry place and jumped there after about two weeks, they can be sown. The procedure is as follows:
  • Prepare small boxes with rearing soil
  • The seeds are put in here
  • Place crates in a shady place and keep well damp
  • In the spring, the small plants thus formed can be planted in their position in the garden
  • However, most of the time it is only in the second year of planting that one's own seeds flower

Care mistakes, diseases or pests

A big mistake is when the perennials are not regularly watered in warm and dry periods. Because even a short dryness forgive the orchid primrose not so easy and it can come to a dying. Unfortunately, the beautiful and graceful plant often make life difficult for slugs. Precisely because it prefers the humid areas in which many snails live, it is often attacked by them and the leaves show unsightly feeding places. Therefore, if possible, take preventive measures against the annoying critters. If they have already been attacked helps:
  • Snail death from the trade
  • collecting by hand


  • Does not tolerate lime
  • Especially on hot days high humidity needed to lower temperature, therefore, like on the water's edge
  • Should not be overburdened by other plants, especially woody plants
  • Responds to dryness with dropping of flowers
  • Is also popular with snails


  • Also called Chinese Primrose
  • Is considered one of the most beautiful garden primroses
  • Unfortunately, as a summer-flowering primrose, it is still very unknown. Of the few who know her, however, she is much appreciated and often forms the basis for a passion for collecting
  • Fits well in the rock garden
  • For many years, it can regenerate itself from its own rootstock again and again at suitable locations. Too dry or warm soil prevents this, which is why it is often described as not enduring

If you want a gracefully flowering and easy-care plant in your garden, you should opt for the orchid primrose. This winter-hardy perennial is also the ideal plant especially as a border on a garden pond or in a rock garden. Once planted, it does not need much. Cutting eliminates as well as making the plant suitable for winter. Only water and a small amount of fertilizer is needed for the primula vialii, so that in the summer between May and July it can raise its flowering and orchid-like flower stalks into the air. Thus, the orchid primrose is the ideal plant for all hobby gardeners who can not or do not want to invest a lot of time. Those who still regard primroses as stale have not yet discovered the primula vialii.

Video Board: Primula Vialii Agm - Orchid / Red-Hot Poker Primrose (Leixlip Dublin).

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