They bloom in beautiful shades of color in the bed, on the balcony and on the windowsill on long or short flower stalks, in swamps or forests up to chalky rock crevices. The genus of the primroses gives us a motley palette of diverse species for almost every location. So that you don’t miss the perfect Primula species for home and garden, we have compiled a selection of tried and tested, new and rare primrose species. Here you can explore the outstanding attributes with tips on the specific requirements for location and maintenance. Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we have put together the following overview in objective, alphabetical order.


  • Primrose family of plants (Primulaceae)
  • Genus Primula with more than 500 species
  • Mostly native to China and the northern hemisphere
  • Deciduous, mostly perennial, herbaceous flowering plants
  • Heights of growth from 10 cm to 100 cm, rarely higher
  • Basal, dense leaf rosettes with differently shaped leaves
  • Upright inflorescences, panicle-, umbel- or grape-shaped depending on the species
  • Globular capsule fruits with many or few seeds
  • More or less poisonous depending on the species

Hairy primrose species pose a particular health risk. Upon contact, the toxin Primin is transmitted, which sometimes causes severe and persistent allergies.

Overview in alphabetical order

Primula auricula – Alpenaurikel

The protected primrose species occurs in the Alps and flowers predominantly in pure yellow. Thanks to its lime tolerance and height of 20 cm, the alpine auricle is ideal for the rock garden and gravel bed.

  • Flowering period: April to June
  • Location: Sunny, lime-rich, poor, dry-sandy
  • Hardy

Primula bulleyana – bunk primrose

The primrose found its way to us from East Asia. The pure wild species blooms in a wonderful yellow on flower stems up to 60 cm high. The fragrant whorls are arranged in tiers for an opulent appearance.

  • Flowering period: June to August
  • Location: Partly shaded, low in lime and fresh and moist
  • Hardy

Tip : The trade is still not entirely in agreement about the German naming of Primula species. For example, both Primula bulleyana and Primula japonica are referred to as single-tier primrose. If you have a specific species of primrose in mind, please ask specifically for botanical names when purchasing.

Primula capitata – Kopfprimel

So that you can still enjoy the cool primrose blossoms in autumn, the Primula capitata should not be missing in the planting plan. At first glance, this primrose species cannot be identified as such. On the 15-30 cm high stems, disc-shaped to spherical flower heads thrive, on which only the outer, blue or purple petals unfold.

  • Flowering period: July to November
  • Location: Partly shaded, protected, low in lime, humic
  • Peat cover as winter protection

Primula denticulata – Kugelprimel

The pretty plant stretches its purple or white spherical flowers towards the spring sun as early as February / March. Unfortunately, this early flowering period makes the primrose a little more susceptible to severe frost. Therefore, the spherical primrose can often be admired on the spring-colored windowsill.

  • Height: 25-30 cm
  • Location: Partly shaded, humus-rich, peat-rich soil
  • Winter protection required

Primula elatior – high bowl flower, forest cowslip, sky key

The bowl flower is one of the most common and best-known primrose species in Europe. The light yellow inflorescences rise above the dense rosettes of leaves early in the year. With a height of 15 to 30 cm, the cowslips find a place in every garden, where they feel particularly comfortable on the edge of the wood.

  • Flowering period: March to May
  • Location: Sunny to partially shaded, humus-rich, loose, slightly acidic soil
  • Light winter protection is recommended

Primula florindae – Sommer-Primel

It lets its fellows go first in spring, in order to put itself in the limelight in summer with its elegant, drooping funnel-shaped blossoms. The flower stretches up to 130 cm. The lemon-yellow flowers come into their own along the course of the stream or on the bank of the pond, as the primrose species prefers a moist environment in its habitat.

  • Flowering period: June to August
  • Location: Humidity, fresh and moist soil, rich in nutrients and low in lime
  • In rough locations with winter protection

Tip : The majority of Primula species move in completely after the flowering period. So that there are no unattractive gaps in the summer bed, the flowers are ideally associated with summer-blooming shrubs, ornamental foliage plants or ferns.

Primula hirsuta – Hairy primrose

The violet blooming primrose species is a familiar sight for mountain hikers in the Alps, because it thrives tirelessly on rocky ground and in crevices. In the ornamental garden, the hairy primrose, with its delicate 7 cm growth height, likes to decorate wall crowns, the rock garden or the gravel bed. She has also made a name for herself as the parent of the popular garden auricles (Primula x pubescens).

  • Flowering period: June to August
  • Location: Sunny to partially shaded, sandy-gravelly, moderately moist to dry
  • Hardy

Primula japonica – bunk primrose

Up to 5 yellow or white flower whorls grow in layers along the up to 60 cm high stems. If you are looking for a type of primrose that is harmoniously associated with ornamental foliage plants and flowering perennials, the Primula japonica fulfills this task with flying colors.

  • Flowering period: May to July
  • Location: Partly to shady, moist, humic, nutritious
  • Protect with leaves in winter-gray areas

Primula minimal – dwarf primrose – Habmichlieb

The tiny species within the Primula species grows to a height of 4 cm and is native to our latitudes. Therefore, the dwarf primrose is used to grief when it comes to the climate and neither frost nor drought can prevent it from showing its distinctive, light purple flowers.

  • Flowering period: June to August
  • Location: sunny to partially shaded, low in lime, lean and well drained
  • Hardy

Primula obconica – cup primrose – poison primrose

This outstanding primrose species trumps with an abundant and months-long flowering period, provided the site conditions are right. Since the beauty of the flowers shivers from temperatures of 5 degrees, it has made a name for itself as a magnificent houseplant. Unfortunately, the Primula obconica also has a dark side, because it is rightly called poison primrose, as it contains the highest content of toxic primine.

  • Flowering time: all year round, depending on the subspecies and variety
  • Location: Light and cool at 10 to 15 degrees Celsius
  • Not hardy

Primula pruhoniciana – garden carpet primrose – pillow primrose

Arranged in larger groups in the garden, the garden carpet primrose gladly takes on the task of a flower-rich ground cover. In spring, so many flowers sprout that they almost completely cover the glossy green foliage. With a height of 5 to 10 cm, the robust primrose species with white, yellow or purple-violet flowers sets decorative accents that create an impressive long-distance effect.

  • Flowering period: April to May
  • Location: Sun to partial shade, nutrient-rich, fresh, without waterlogging
  • Layer of leaves recommended as winter protection

Primula x pubescens – garden auricle, hybrid primrose

This classic has been cultivated in cottage gardens since the 16th century. The hybrid emerged from the two primrose species Primula auricula (auricle) and Primula hirsuta (hairy primrose). The fleshy leaves develop dense rosette carpets, above which the two-colored flowers rise up to a height of 20 cm. The lovers of this romantic primrose species decorate sunny wall crowns and rock gardens with it.

  • Flowering period: May to July
  • Location: sunny to partially shaded, humus, moderately dry
  • Hardy

Primula rosea – Rosenprimel – Sumpfprimel

The red flowers form a striking contrast to the green leaf rosette. In particular, the hybrids that emerged from Primula rosea live up to their name with their densely filled, rose-like flowers. In regions with mild winter conditions, the species thrives outdoors, where it feels at home on the marshy edge of the water. Ideally, the 15 cm small beauty takes place in the pot on the sunny windowsill.

  • Flowering period: March to May
  • Location: Sunny, rich in nutrients, humic, moist, loamy
  • Sensitive to frost to conditionally hardy

Primula veris – Key to Heaven – Real cowslip

The flower of the year 2016 captivates with bright yellow, intensely fragrant, yolk yellow flowers on slender, 10-30 cm high stems. From a distance, the historical primrose species looks as if Mother Nature has lost her key ring here. The native primrose inspires both as a herald of spring in the bed and as a floral highlight on the windowsill. In the wild, the plant is under nature protection as it is threatened with extinction. With the cultivation in your garden, you are contributing to the preservation of the cool primrose.

  • Flowering period: March to May
  • Location: Sunny to partially shaded, humus-free soil, slightly acidic to neutral

Primula vulgaris – stemless cowslip – pillow primrose – garden primrose

Where colorful fireworks of flowers catch the eye on the late winter window sill, it is mostly Primula vulgaris. The well-tried primrose species shows its most beautiful side as a potted flower in living rooms. We owe her, among other things, the rare blue flower color, decorated with a white border or a yellow center. The stemless cowslip always scores top marks in sightings, which underscores its value. Potted in August / September and cared for in a cool, bright room, the 6-10 cm small primrose species begins to flower in February.

  • Flowering period: February to April
  • Location: Bright, not full sun, cool temperatures of 10 to 15 degrees Celsius
  • Frostempfindlich


The genus Primula comes with a large number of species that are characterized by a wide variety of stature heights, flower colors and location preferences. There are more than 500 species of primrose to choose from, so you can look forward to colorful blossoms on the windowsill from February and create a colorful spring garden. This overview would like to contribute to your decision-making.

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