Growing Garden Auricula-The Primrose

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Garden Auricula, or primrose are hardy perennials. Auriculas belong to the Primula family and are divided into two main types, the show and the alpine. The show type is again subdivided into several classes, the blooms in each class being coated with a dense farina or powder. These varieties are usually grown in pots in cold frames, in order that the delicate film of powder on the leaves and the flowers may not be washed off by rain.

The alpine section differs from the show in the entire absence of farina on the flowers and leaves. The plants, moreover, are very hardy and may be grown on the rockery, in beds, or as edgings to a border. Very choice sorts for exhibition are better grown in pots in a cold frame or a cold greenhouse. Those intended for outdoor culture should be planted in a position where they will have the benefit of some shade from the midday sun.

The cultural details for the alpine varieties are few. Young stock of special kinds must be raised from offsets, which may be got off at any time during the summer and autumn and rooted in pots filled with sandy soil. Cool surroundings are essential at all times, and it is useless to attempt to hasten either rooting or opening flowers by the aid of artificial heat. Where the plants are grown outside, either in beds or in the rock garden, the soil should be re-surfaced annually as soon as the plants have flowered, using for the purpose a sharp gritty loam mixed with a little decayed animal manure. Pot plants require similar treatment, and may then be grown in the same pots year after year.

Show auriculas like the alpine varieties thrive in a rich loamy soil. A preparation of two-thirds loam to one-third leaf-mould and well-rotted cow manure, together with sufficient sharp sand to ensure free drainage, will suit well. Four-inch pots are amply large enough, and the operation of repotting is best carried out in May or early June as soon as the plants have finished flowering. A light airy frame which allows of ample ventilation is the ideal place for the plants. For the first few days after potting they should be kept fairly close, but no heat is required at any period of their existence. During the winter months water must be very sparingly given. In February the plants should be overhauled, removing any dead foliage and top-dressing with a little fresh sifted loam and dried manure. From this time on until blooming is finished they must never be exposed to the weather.

One of the most interesting methods of increasing stock with either tvpe is by sowing seeds directly they are ripe in shallow boxes or pans of sandy soil. The seedlings come up very irregularly, and a boxful of seed will supply a large number of young plants, some of which may not germinate or become big enough to plant out for a couple of years at least, and an important thing to remember is that these laggard seedlings are often among the very best varieties. The seed box or pan should not, therefore, be turned out until the last seedling has asserted itself. From time to time some of the most forward should be transplanted into the border and a little fresh soil sprinkled among the seedlings to make up losses of soil in lifting out the plants. Another method is by division of the plants. In the case of border varieties, a practice should be made of lifting, dividing, and replanting every third year in September. This plan ensures sturdy plants capable of throwing up very fine trusses each spring. Simply divide each plant into as many portions as are furnished with stems and roots. If the stems are very long, shorten them slightly before replanting. Choice show varieties are best increased by means of offsets detached from the parent plant in May and June and potted on in light loamy soil.

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Author: Ian SG Smith
Ian has a great interest in gardening and writes occasional articles. Come and visit his newest website at , and look particularly at the

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