Double Primroses

The following is an extract from The Primulas of Europe by John Macwatt, pages 30-31, published by Country Life, London, in 1923.  Any errors in capitalization etc. are the product of the original author.  The double primroses which Macwatt lists here have probably all disappeared by now, but may be of historical interest.  Note the advice on double green primroses at the end.

"...[The] double Primroses have been cherished for years, but are never over-plentiful, because they are far from robust in constitution, and successful cultivation is in fact something of which one may be justly proud.  The great aim should be to choose a partially shaded situation, where the soil is deep and of good heart [?], and well drained.  Then see that during the flowering and growing season the plants are never lacking abundant moisture, and give periodically soakings of weak liquid manure.  Gather some of the flowers when the plants are heavily bearing, to prevent exhaustion, and in winter adopt some method of warding off excessive rains.  Don't leave old clumps too long without division and replanting.  Thus managed, double Primroses should thrive.  If this treatment does not meet with success, plant them in stiff [?] soil among the gooseberry bushes where the shade is dense, and it will be found that they not only grow but flourish.


The double Primroses generally in cultivation [in 1923] include the following:

amarinthina Fl. Pl. (Red Paddy).  Bright rose crimson.

Burgundy.  Crimson purple, streaked white.

carnea plena. Flesh-coloured.

Crouseii Plena.  Deep lilac rose, edged white.

Cloth of Gold (lutea plena).

French Grey.

platypetala plena (A. Dumoullin). Mauve violet, tipped white.

Pompadour. Deep ruby velvet, very scarce.

Lilac. Good free-flowering.


Sulphur. Early.

White. Fine early.

sanguina plena.

Carmine rose. Margin white.

Old rose. Much stronger and easier to grow than Carnea Plena.

Several new double varieties have been raised, and we may confidently anticipate the appearance shortly of some handsome varieties with double flowers and more vigorous growth than the older favourites.  Much of then improvement effected has been due to the consideration and adoption of the Mendelian system, by which in the third generation double flowers are produced from single varieties fertilised by the pollen of double Primroses.

Whether or not the early raisers adopted this method of raising double-flowered varieties I cannot say, but in my own garden I have worked on these lines and have found it consistently successful, and I recommend any reader who has a desire and the facilities to produce new double Primroses and Polyanthus to adhere to this course, or, at all events, to try the experiment.

Both single and double green Primroses are occasionally found.  In cultivation they are difficult to keep.  The only way I have been able to get them to survive is to grow them in a situation where they get no sun."


Webmaster's note: Many new doubles were eventually raised by Hopley's nursery in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, England.  I visited this nursery in 2000, and had a chat with the young owner, a member of the family that has always run the nursery.  He told me that nearly all of the original Hopley varieties of double vulgaris had been lost, and even told me that he would be very happy to receive some of these old varieties so that he could re-establish them!


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