Hardy and exquisite, Border and Alpine Auriculas are vigorous, free-flowering primroses that are strong and sturdy enough to withstand most weather conditions and be grown in the garden. These evergreen perennial plants are incredibly diverse in size and come in almost every color imaginable. There are hundreds of cultivars available. All look terrific in large containers, or planted in groups at the edge of borders, along paths or in rockeries.
- Border Auriculas are often sweetly scented and some varieties are heavily dusted with a white powder (meal or farina) on their leaves or flowers. These are best kept out of the rain when they flower, to avoid spoiling their pretty faces.
- Alpine Auriculas are noted for their flat, rounded petals and the gradual shading of their petals - dark towards their heart and light at the petal tips. They do not display farina on their flowers or leaves, and can be safely planted outside as they will not spoil in the rain. While their flowers are quite large, they are not as fragrant as the Border Primulas.
- They usually enjoy a long flowering season extending from mid to late spring. They bloom for up to 3 months (in normal weather conditions) and sometimes flower again in the fall.
- They grow up to 8 in. tall (20 cm).
- They thrive and are almost indestructible if planted in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained, humus-rich soil in full sun or partial shade. Sharp drainage is vital (they dislike wet feet) and heavy clay soils are best avoided. While they can stand more sun than many other primulas, they always do better in dappled shade. Make sure they sit in a partially shaded spot protected from the hot summer sun and the soil does not dry out.
- They require little attention, aside from division, every 2-3 years, in early spring or fall. If grown in pots, repot into fresh compost each year. Remove decaying leaves to reduce risk of fungal infections, discard old blooms to avoid rot in the crown.
- Feed as they come into growth and stop when they finish flowering.
- They look fabulous by themselves but can be planted with companion plants. Plant them under deciduous shrubs, such as Acers (Maples), Viburnums, Philadelphus (Mock Orange), Hamamelis (Witch Hazels) or Rose shrubs. They will fully enjoy the spring sun before the shrubs unfolds their umbrella of leaves, and will be protected from the summer sun when the shrubs are in full leaf.
- Team them with spring-flowering bulbs such as Muscari (Grape Hyacinths), Narcissus (Daffodils) or Galanthus (Snowdrops). Combine them with Helleborus (Hellebores), Dicentras (Bleeding Hearts), Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemones), Viola cornuta (Violets), Sedums or Sempervivums.