Ask a Question forum: Primula container survival

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Alberta (Zone 4a)
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Draconiusultamius
Mar 24, 2018 5:34 PM CST
I went and purchased a primula from a store since they were on sale for a dollar and I felt bad for them as they weren't in great shape. Is there any way I can keep it happy in the pot? Most online resources say that it's not possible to keep most primula in a container alive past a few weeks since they are really suceptible to root rot, but I'm curious to see if anybody has had any success with it.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 25, 2018 9:32 AM CST
That information you found is completely off-base. Of course, ANY plant that is overwatered will develop root rot and not live very long. Primulas will last indefinitely if potted and cared for correctly. Of course, they are not winter hardy in colder climates, so some folks treat them as annuals and simply discard them in the fall.

Apparently, yours is starting out as a rescue, so that will make it difficult for you. A posted photo that shows the entire plant, including its container, would be most helpful in our assisting you with care information.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Alberta (Zone 4a)
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Draconiusultamius
Mar 28, 2018 11:59 PM CST
Ok Will.
Here are some pictures.
Thumb of 2018-03-29/Draconiusultamius/4b039f

It's been using a lot of water and I give about 10 sprays daily, with extra water whenever it looks thirsty.
Thumb of 2018-03-29/Draconiusultamius/cb3d9e

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 29, 2018 1:17 PM CST
It looks like you got an excellent bargain! It appears to be in good shape.

Keep it in that pot and don't disturb the soil or roots. It will do best in a sunny location where it is also cool. Water it thoroughly as soon as the soil surface is just barely damp. Make sure a bit of water runs through the drain holes after each watering. Misting is not necessary. Best not to fertilize it while it is in bloom.

It may put out a second round of flowers in the summer. Come fall, water very sparingly as it goes semi-dormant. Also, keep it cool during this time and don't worry about light. In January/February, you can resume watering and you may see some new growth, including flowers.

Because it does not look like much from October through January, many folks treat it as an annual and discard it at the end of the summer. For a dollar, you really can't go wrong!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Maintenance of Perennial Beds.
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SunnyBorders
Mar 29, 2018 6:30 PM CST
Re winter hardiness in colder climates:

Here at least, these florists' primulas become available soon after Christmas in Supermarkets and the like and are available for several months more as indoor plants. Transplanting them outside in the garden later on, sometimes works, but usually does not.

However, bought from garden centres and planted in spring, they usually last several years outside, sometimes much longer.

The available series includes, Hethor, Danova and Pacific Giants and they're sold as Primula acaulis, primula vulgaris or Polyanthus Primula (the latter referring to hybrid origin). Plant Hardiness zones 3 - 8.
Alberta (Zone 4a)
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Draconiusultamius
Mar 29, 2018 9:00 PM CST
Thanks for your replies everyone. I don't see why people would discard plants just because they don't look like much, but I think every plant is fascinating in it's own way, so I might be the minority. I guess I'll have to relocate it though since the location isn't very sunny, but most places in the house aren't very sunny and the one area that is faces south and gets pretty warm in the afternoon. I'll see about planting it since I do go away often and it has a slightly higher chance of survival outside.
Alberta (Zone 4a)
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Draconiusultamius
Apr 11, 2018 8:18 PM CST
My primrose managed to drop all it's flowers and I'm puzzled. The edges of some of the leaves are looking a little rust coloured and some of the recently dried leaves also show this color. I remember reading somewhere about iron deficiency in primula and how it causes similar symptoms. The leaves have also gotten dull and one has these dry spots, which spontaneously appeared. I suspect that's sunburn, but this is the only spot in my house that's bright and cool most of the time. More importantly, it's one of the few locations where I'm allowed to keep plants by my mom and it's the closest I can get to it's natural habitat. It doesn't look like rot to me (and I really hope it isn't) but I would still like to know what's wrong with my plant. I'm not an experienced gardener and this is the first non-easy care plant I'm attempting. I haven't used fertilizer as I'm not allowed to (well, the blue stuff, at least) and I've always seemed to kill plants when I used it. I may move the plant to school to let some of my teachers who have been gardening for a long time to look at them (there's also fertilizer and soil at school).
Alberta (Zone 4a)
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Draconiusultamius
Apr 13, 2018 9:15 PM CST
Ok, an update on my Primulas...

Thumb of 2018-04-14/Draconiusultamius/fa83fc

Yeah, not looking too good. I moved it away from the window since it was getting very warm there (the thermometer almost broke). I'm not sure why some of the leaves dried up and turned rusty, but I've heard it has something to do with chlorosis. In my city, the tap water is quite hard and our water is softened, but I'm very limited in terms of using snow melt or rainwater as I have about of liter to go around and the primula needs more than a liter a month (as far as I've tested). I'm sort of at a loss for what to do, though I've heard that using fertilizers and things can help with chlorosis. I'll bring it to school next week as the bio sub who knows a crazy amount about gardening is coming and she might be able to help with fertilizer or something. Or at least give some experience to me.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Apr 14, 2018 6:38 AM CST
I think you are discovering why Primulas are hard to maintain indoors and not often used as houseplants.

Hard water and softened water can be deadly for Primulas, as well as other plant species. Hard and softened water alters the solubility and availability of nutrients. If you don't start using filtered, distilled or rain water, then all the fertilizer you might add will not be available to the plant. If you use better quality water, then you will not have to use fertilizer.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Alberta (Zone 4a)
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Draconiusultamius
Apr 14, 2018 4:15 PM CST
Thanks Will. I may give the plant to my teacher next week since she live in a rural area and the water she receives is a lower pH and unsoftened. She's been using tap water for her airplants and they have been doing fine. Are primulas particularly sensitive to hard and soft water and is there a way to solve the problem with my tap water without making it too harsh for the plant? I have also heard that distilled water can be harmful to plants, but I could try using it if you think it'll be fine.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Apr 14, 2018 7:48 PM CST
Those of us that grow orchids and have hard water use rain water or when that runs out Reverse osmosis. Even a Brita pitcher is better than nothing.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Apr 15, 2018 9:21 AM CST
Primulas are particularly vulnerable to excess calcium, but excess mineral salts in hard and softened water affect the pH and that affects the availability of essential nutrients.

Distilled water is fine for plants, as is rainwater, and filtered water. Use anything that that has low mineral content.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Alberta (Zone 4a)
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Draconiusultamius
Apr 16, 2018 3:19 AM CST
Thank you both for your input! I might try with distilled water, which still means bringing the plant to school since the distilled water is free there. However, the school's water does appear to be a little strange in terms of pH since it's always a bit acidic.

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