Candeabra Primula or Candelabra Primrose refers to species of primula, which hail primarily from the northern hemisphere with the greatest diversity, found in the Himalayan region, especially Yunnan, Sichuan and Burma.
The Candelabra Primose is worth growing for its sheer size and attractive flowers that clothe the stems in whorls. They are suitable for herbaceous borders or as marginal plants beside ponds and will thrive if given a place where the roots will not dry out during the spring or summer.
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The candelabra primroses belong to the section Proliferae. As a group, they are easy to recognize. All produce rosettes of upright leaves from which rises stiffly upright flower stems 30-60 cm tall. The flowers are produced in whorls along the length of the upper flower stem. Each whorl opens sequentially with 6-18 flowers per whorl and up to 8 sequential whorls. This flowering habit means the plants are in bloom over a period of 4-6 weeks. This section is native to wet meadows, marshes and mountain streamsides of SW China (Yunnan, Burma, Sichuan, Bhutan) with one species found in Japan. They are hardy to at least USDA zone 5, but some are even hardier.
They are great for planting along streams and garden ponds or in bog gardens. They will grow in both sun or part shade but require more water if grown in the former situation. Some are evergreen but most are deciduous and overwinter as a tight, acorn-like knob. They are easily grown from seed especially if the seed are fresh. They need 4-6 weeks stratification for maximum germination. Mature plants may be divided after they bloom.
The main pest is root weevil larvae which burrow into their thick, thong-like roots, causing the plants to collapse mid-summer. Biological control is available via predatory nematodes.
The term candelabra primula encompasses several species and hybrids that bloom in sunrise/sunset shades of yellow, orange, apricot and rose. The range of colors comes from the fact that the plants cross-pollinate so easily, so you can start with a pot of yellow and a pot of red, and after a few years you’ll have your own varied collection. It includes P. pervulenta and P. japonica which are stunning sights when they bloom in early June. They are ideal to grow streamside in a lighted shaded area. Some, such as P. allionii are small plants for stone sinks and the troughs used for watering the livestock — items difficult to come by, as most of them have been snapped up for specialty rockery gardens.
If you are a fan of primroses and want to extend the blooming season of this lovely group of perennials, then why not develop a spot to grow the elegant candelabra primroses!
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