Primula malacoides

Primula malacoides

Primula malacoides (ht to 30cm) is a pretty winter/spring annual that is easy to grow and will tolerate shade. It is a determined self-seeder: I haven't deliberately planted it for years but seedlings pop up everywhere in autumn - and in winter and spring they look so pretty with their tiered layers of simple flowers of pinks, white or mauve. They are easy to move around even as quite large plants; I do this to fill in blank spots in my garden in late winter when everything is pruned back hard! Occasionally, I have seen specimens with double flowers. It has rosettes of furry, frilly leaves.

Primula malacoides in hanging baskets, Fitzroy Gardens Conservatory, Melbourne

It is a native of China and looks attractive associated with other 'oriental' spring flowers, such as those of azaleas, Camellia japonica, Iris japonica and deciduous shrubs such as Philadelphus, Deutzia and Viburnum. It doesn't need any special treatment but like most annuals, will do well grown in reasonable soil with regular applications of soluble fertiliser. Removing spent blooms will encourage more flowers to form. It is readily available in nurseries in punnets during autumn.

Flowers in July, August, September, October, November.

 Out now in my Sydney Garden.