With a colour variation from blue-lilac through to pink, or even white, and a propensity to self-seed, any grouping ofmarginata can provide a charming array of pastel colour on the patio in early Spring. In addition, the pretty toothed leaves are covered in a whitish deposit – farina – which gives the foliage a dusty tinge. This alpine Primula is a fully frost-tolerant species, with a native habitat in high rock crevices; as the plant matures and spreads, the stems become woody and hold the leaf rosettes clear of the ground. Within the species, the leaf colour can vary – for example, the lavender-blue P. m. ‘Linda Pope’ has leaves edged with silver, while P. m. ‘Hyacinthia’ has deep mauve-blue flowers.
Use these plants for alpine sinks or in other containers on the patio; given a little protection from rain, the blooms make a charming sight in Spring. Plants purchased in bloom in Spring should be kept very cool if used indoors.
Primula marginata is fully frost-hardy and will tolerate very cold conditions if kept relatively dry through Winter. Seed needs a temperature of no more than 15°C (60°F) for germination, and will refuse to germinate until a period of frost has been experienced: germination is sporadic, and seed trays are best left outside in a cool place. Provide this Primula with full sunshine from late Autumn until flowering has finished: position them in shade from early Summer through to late Autumn. Place any containers out of any drying winds, as desiccation can rapidly occur. Seed needs light for germination; grow-on in a shady place, out of direct sunshine.
This plant needs moist roots when in active growth: avoid over-watering during Winter. This is especially important for container-grown plants, as over-watering followed by a period of freezing weather can result in rapid death of the plants. Keep seedmoist at all times.
This plant needs no additional humidity during the flowering period: young plants may need a daily misting during unusually dry periods in Summer.
Primula in bloom need no feed: when planted into fresh compost, there will be enough feed in the compost to last the plant through its period in the pot. If plants are kept in the same compost for more than one season, apply a general-purpose feed in early Spring; keep it away from the plant’s growing point.
Grow Primula marginata in a free-draining, loam-based compost which contains lime: up to a third extra by volume of horticultural grit may be added to improve the drainage of the compost.
Surface-sow seed in a peat-based seed compost: for growing outside, sow from March to May and do not cover the seed. Spread a net curtain over the tray to keep off debris, and to protect the seed from excessive light: water through the net. Prick-outas they reach 2.5cm (1in) tall and grow them on in a loam-based compost; use 10cm (4in) deep pots to keep the roots cool. Plant-out the Primula seedlings into their flowering positions in late Autumn, keeping the crowns clear of compost; water in well.
Slugs and snails will decimate these Primula: use a slug/snail deterrent in damp conditions, especially when growing seedlings.