When the Polyanthus bursts into flower in March, one can feel that at last spring has arrived, the dust can be blown off the deck-chairs, the lawn mower oiled, and gardening can once again become a pleasure.
The Polyanthus is really too well known to require any introduction. With the possible exception of Daffodils and Roses, it must be the plant most frequently grown for its flowers, and there can be few gardens where even just one or two plants can’t be found.
Polyanthus elatior 'Pacific Strain' is a specially selected strain of an old favourite, giving fine and hardy plants that bear very large flowers on strong stems. The blooms are up to 6cm (2½ in) in diameter making them great plants for the vase. This very special mixture contains a good variety of colours which will give a display that remains brilliantly colourful for many weeks.
Sowing: Sow seeds in late spring/early summer or late summer/autumn.
Primula seeds need a period of cold and damp to enable them to germinate. Sow from June onwards on a surface of seed compost, cover with grit and keep in a shaded cold-frame or cool glasshouse.
Sow seed 2.5cm (1”) apart in trays or cells containing seed compost. Sow the seeds on the surface of the compost, (Do not cover - they need light to germinate) and place in a light position at a regular temperature of around 16°C (60°F) Germination should take place between 21 and 40 days.
Primula seeds can also be sown during warmer times of the year, but it would be necessary to artificially simulate “winter” using the following method of “stratification”:
Place the seeds between two pieces of damp filter paper or folded kitchen roll then put into a polythene bag and place this into the fridge at 4°C (39°F) which is the temperature that most fridges are set at. Inspect the seeds after two weeks and remove as the seedlings appear, returning the ungerminated seeds to the fridge.
Germination can be erratic, although most should germinate in 4 to 5 weeks, it is not unknown for seeds still to be germinating up to two years after sowing. Remove the seedlings and place the pot in a shaded corner of the garden….just in case!
When seedlings have their first pair of true leaves and are large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots containing peaty compost. Grow on then gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out. Plant them in a humus-rich, moisture retentive soil and in partial shade.
The important factor is that the roots should not dry out, so incorporate plenty of organic matter when you plant, mulch well in autumn and spring and water regularly if they are in the open.
Cut back after flowering. Once established, they benefit from being lifted and divided every two years in early spring.
Bedding schemes. Indoor plants, Pots and containers
The genus name Polyanthus means 'many flowered, it derives from the Greek Poly meaning many, and antho meaning flower.
The species name elatior means 'taller'.
Primroses and Polyanthus. What's the difference?
Primroses have one flower per stalk, polyanthus many.
The Polyanthus originated in a cross between the Cowslip, Primula veris and the Primrose, Primula vulgaris. This is in fact a naturally occurring hybrid to be found where the two plants grow together, with the resulting plant known as the Common Oxlip. In the middle of the Seventeenth Century (first described in 1665), some coloured forms appeared, and the modern Polyanthus was born.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 50mg Average Seed Count 50 Seeds Family Primulaceae Genus Primula Species x polyantha Cultivar Pacific Strain Mix Synonym Polyanthus Common Name Aka 'Pacific Giants' Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers March to May Foliage Mid green, oval, velvety, scalloped Height 45 to 60cm (18-24in) Spread 30-38cm (12-15in) Position Light Shade Soil Moist, fertile, humus rich soil