Starting Primula Seeds

…Locally Grown…Sustainable…Freshly Picked… Chemical-Free…

Today we started single trays of P. vailii, capitata, alpicola, chungensis, japonica and auricula.

It’s the first of February and time to clean and sanitize your pots and trays. We use a 10ppm bleach solution to sanitize all of our seed starting equipment.  The best time to sow polyanthus and auricula is in February.

For seed-starting success follow this simple plan.  Fill the pots with soil that has been pre-moistened with boiling water.  Thinly scatter the seeds across the soil surface and do not cover.  Primula seedlings need light and air to germinate. We use 18, four-inch pots to fill a standard tray.

Seeds which are slower to germinate (double primroses, hose-in-hose, jack-in-the-green, auriculas species) can be sown on a layer of vermiculite or very fine gravel over the compost. Water the seeds in with a fine mist. Place an old pillow case or a piece of horticultural fabric (Argibon or Remae) over your sowing and put outside where it is exposed to the weather (rain, snow, cold temperatures) for a month. Most of the species need natural freezing and thawing to get them started so it’s important to sow as early as possible.

This year we are starting a few trays under standard 4ft. long fluorescent shop lights to germinate more quickly.  To do this, the trays are covered with a clear dome top until the seedlings appear.  Seedlings will appear, depending on the variety, in 10 to 40 days. For example, Polyanthus and primrose sprout within three weeks whereas Auriculas are slower and Sieboldii may take six weeks. To encourage strong roots and minimize mold issues it is best to water from the bottom.  Seedlings that don’t get enough light grow long with weak stems.  It is important to keep the lights as close to the lights as possible -2 to 4 inches.

Your seedlings need to be big and strong by the time they are moved outdoors. This is accomplished by using an oscillating fan set on low.  The extra air circulation will minimize the chance of fungal disease and strengthen the young plants.

Primulas establish much faster if a good root system has developed before they are moved. Wait until you have at least four leaves before you prick out. A feed with a half-strength high potash fertilizer a week before pricking out helps.  At this point the plants need to be protected against slugs.  The new transplants should also get covered with Reemay for a week or so.