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5 Top Primrose Picks for Midwest Gardens

Often ignored because of their fussiness in the heat, spring-blooming primroses can thrive in the Midwest if you select the right cultivars and give them a little attention. As woodland natives, these perennials do well in Zones 4–8 planted in partial shade, mulched and watered regularly. Try our top picks.

1. Primula vulgaris Belarina ‘Pink Ice’
It’s like getting two plants in one: The double blossoms of ‘Pink Ice’ are pure white in early spring then deepen to pink. And flowers at the top of the mound of foliage are “like a miniature bouquet,” says Susan Martin of Walters Gardens, a wholesale nursery in Michigan.

2. Primula japonica ‘Miller’s Crimson’

If you have a pond or a stream, consider planting this Japanese primrose along the water; it requires more moisture than many primroses. Its ability to reseed means the banks will be bright with candelabra-shape rosy-red blooms.

3. Primula acaulis ‘Blue Zebra’

Dramatic stripes of blue and white encircle the sunny yellow center of this new cultivar. The striking flowers make it an excellent choice for showstopping containers on a patio.

4. Primula veris

Also known as cowslip, the English wildflower’s cup-shape, fragrant yellow blooms brighten woodland settings. “This one tends to produce large clumps that can be divided easily,” says Jacob of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

5. Primula sieboldii

This Japanese woodland variety splashes pink, lilac-purple, crimson and white in a garden scene. “It goes dormant during summer, so that helps it tolerate heat and drier conditions,” says Jacob Burns of the Chicago Botanic Garden. Bonus: It requires less maintenance and tolerates Midwest summers better than some of the others.

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