Yellowing Primrose Plants: Why Are Primrose Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellowing Primrose Plants: Why Are Primrose Leaves Turning Yellow

By: Liz Baessler

Primroses are one of the first bloomers of spring in cold winter climates, and a bright and welcome sign of warm weather to come. Sometimes, however, you may discover what you thought to be healthy primrose leaves turning yellow, which can put a real damper on an otherwise happy celebration of spring. Keep reading to learn how to treat yellow primrose leaves.

Why are Primrose Leaves Turning Yellow?

Yellowing primrose plants can be attributed to a few causes. One common and easily treated problem is improper watering. Primroses need moist but not waterlogged soil. Make sure to water them regularly, but plant them in soil with good drainage to ensure they don’t stand in water, which can cause root rot and yellowing leaves.

By the same token, don’t let the soil dry out, as this can cause yellow, brittle leaves. Two exceptions to this basic rule are the Japanese and drumstick primrose, which can both thrive in very wet soil.

Leaves may also turn yellow if your plant is in direct sunlight. Primroses can tolerate direct sun in places with very cool summers but, in most cases, it’s best to plant them in partial or filtered sunlight.

Diseases That Cause Yellowing Primrose Plants

Not all causes of yellowing primrose plants are environmental. Various varieties of fungal rot are manifested in the production of smaller leaves that turn yellow and wither quickly. Remove and destroy infected plants to reduce the spread of the rot to healthy plants. Improving drainage may also help combat it.

Leaf spot is another disease that appears as yellow to brown spots on the undersides of leaves. Leaf spot can be combatted by the application of fungicides or the simple removal of infected plants or leaves.

Mosaic virus can be transmitted by aphids and appears as a yellow mottling on leaves that are often very stunted. The virus is not serious but is easily spread, so remove and destroy infected plants to prevent further infestation.

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Read more about Primroses

Plant Care Guide: How to Grow and Care for a Primrose Plant

Known for the vibrant-colored flowers that bloom in early spring, primrose is a herbaceous, perennial plant. Gardenerdy provides information on primrose plant care, ranging from the right planting time to soil, light, and watering requirements.

Known for the vibrant-colored flowers that bloom in early spring, primrose is a herbaceous, perennial plant. Gardenerdy provides information on primrose plant care, ranging from the right planting time to soil, light, and watering requirements.

April 19 is observed as the Primrose Day, on the death anniversary of Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881). As primrose was his favorite flower, his statue is adorned with primroses on this day.

The word ‘primrose’ is derived from the Latin word primus, which means early or first. The name is certainly apt, as primrose is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring. The common primrose, which is also called English primrose, is native to several regions of Europe. This plant belongs to Primula genus and Primulaceae family. Its scientific name is Primula vulgaris.

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The Primula genus includes more than 450 species that have flowers in varied colors such as red, purple, yellow, pink, white, bluish-purple, etc. While the common primrose is a wildflower that grows in open woodlands, meadows, and shady banks, gardening enthusiasts who wish to include primrose plants in their garden can opt for cultivars or hybrids derived Primula vulgaris and Primula vulgaris subsp. sibthorpii. The hybrid varieties not only come in an array of colors, they could have single or double flowers. Primula vulgaris and Primula vulgaris subsp. sibthorpii have received the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit. The flowers are a sight to watch. The plant can be kept in pots or used for borders.

English Primrose Plant Profile

Plant Type: Perennial
Genus: Primula
Species: Vulgaris
Light Requirement: Partial shade
Soil: Moist, acidic, well-drained soil
Bloom Season: Early spring to summer

Bloom Color: Yellow
Foliage: Basal rosette of wrinkled leaves
Foliage color: Green
Hardiness: USDA zones 3-9
Height: 20 cm
Spread: 35 cm
Pests: Slugs, snails, spider mites

As mentioned earlier, the cultivars resulting from crosses between subspecies of common primrose or hybrid varieties are quite popular due to their colorful blooms. Often, these plants are called Primula x Polyantha. Their characteristics are given below.

Bloom color: Pink, red, orange, yellow, purple, blue or white (the bloom color would vary, depending on cultivar.)

Colorful Polyanthus Primroses

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Habit: Clusters of flowers on the stem
Bloom time: Early to late spring
Length of bloom: 3-4 weeks or more
Height: 6-12 inches
Spread: 8-9 inches

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-9
Heat tolerance: AHS heat zones 8-6
Light requirement: Partial shade (full sun in cool climates)
Soil: Humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil
Propagation: Seeds or division after the bloom season in the early spring

Primrose is quite popular due to its vibrant-colored flowers and green foliage. It can be planted in borders, beds, pots, containers, or window boxes. You could grow the plant from seeds, or even purchase a plant from the garden center. You can even propagate it by division. Once the bloom season is over, you can dig up the plant, and separate the clumps of rosettes. Each of these can be grown separately in containers or planted outdoors. After primroses stop blooming, dig up the plants and divide.

If you want to keep the plant indoors, it is advisable to opt for the English primrose or Primula polyantha (hybrid cultivars). It would be best to purchase a plant that has a few flowers and some buds.

It must be noted that hybrid cultivars are often treated as annuals. Though the hybrid cultivars produce beautiful flowers, they don’t last as long as the following varieties:

✦ Common primrose
✦ Cowslip (Primula veris)
✦ Candelabra primrose (Primula japonica)
✦ German primrose (Primula obconica)
✦ Drumstick primrose (Primula denticulata)

So, choose a variety, depending on your requirements.

Tips for Growing Primrose from Seeds

It must be noted that it can sometimes be a little difficult to grow this plant from seeds. If you already have a primrose plant in your home, wait until late summer or early fall to collect the seeds. Store them in a cool, dry place. If you plan to grow this plant from seeds, here’s what you need to do:

✦ The seeds can be sown in late spring or early summer. Though they can be sown during warmer periods, you would need to provide them with cold and damp conditions to facilitate germination.

✦ The seeds should be sown in a tray filled with seed compost, while placing them about an inch apart.

✦ Make sure that the seeds are on the surface, and not fully covered by the compost. This will allow them to receive light, which is a requirement for germination.

✦ You can place the tray in a glasshouse or a place with the temperature of 60°F.

✦ With the appearance of seedlings or first true leaves, these can be transplanted into pots. Make sure that the soil is rich in humus and well-drained.

✦ For quicker germination, you could also follow the method of stratification. For that, you need two pieces of damp filter paper. Put the seeds between these papers and roll them. Place this into a polythene bag, which can then be placed in the refrigerator. Make sure that the refrigerator is set at a temperature of around 40°F. After a couple of weeks, check to see if the seedlings have appeared. If yes, then transplant them into a small pot that contains peaty compost. After two weeks, primrose can be planted outdoors. It should be planted after the last frost of spring. However, ensure that the planting site is suitable.

Soil Requirements

As far as soil is concerned, make sure that it is moist and rich in humus. The soil must be well-drained. Also, it should be slightly acidic or neutral, with a pH between 5.5 and 7. Before planting, you can add peat moss to the soil. A peat-moss based potting mix will allow the soil to retain moisture. If the soil tests suggest that the soil is alkaline, you could add pine needles. Compost can be added if the soil lacks nutrients. A 2-inch layer of mulch can be added for keeping the roots moist. However, it must be changed every year.


Polyanthus Primrose in Filtered Sunlight

Anyone who wants to grow a primrose needs to understand that this flowering plant prefers cool temperatures and thrives in partially-shaded areas. So, if you live in a warm inland region, don’t plant in an area that receives direct sunlight for a long time. In certain cooler regions, it can tolerate full sunlight. If the plant is placed in a pot or container, you can put it in an area that receives filtered light.


The soil should be moist. Though watering the plant too often can increase the risk of root rot, make sure that the soil is never dry. It should remain evenly moist. Excessive watering can cause the leaves to turn yellow, while dry soil can lead to wilting of the leaves.


Primroses should be fertilized regularly. You can replenish the soil in early spring, before the new growth. You can use a 10-10-10 ratio fertilizer. Make sure that you apply the fertilizer after removing the layer of mulch that you added in the previous year. In case of a houseplant, you could use a half-strength house plant fertilizer solution. This can be applied once a month. For primrose that has been planted outdoors, a light application of general garden fertilizer every month might be required. Do not fertilize in the bloom season.


The infestation of slugs, snails, spider mites, and aphids can cause damage to the plant. So, watch out for signs of an infestation. Do apply a natural pesticide to avoid and control an infestation. If the plant gets affected by leaf spot disease, make sure that you remove the diseased leaves. Like most plants, excess watering can lead to root rot. So, water the plant properly.


Pruning is extremely important. In order to encourage profuse flowering, make sure that you remove the spent or faded flowers. Also, remove the dead leaves.

Any gardening enthusiast who has seen the English primrose or polyanthus primrose flowers knows how these flowers can significantly add to the beauty of any flower garden. Flowers from the Primula genus are breathtakingly beautiful. To be able to grow them in your garden, all you need to do is provide them with the ideal growing conditions. So, keep the aforementioned primrose plant information and growing tips in mind, and be ready to get mesmerized in the flowering season!

Growing primrose flowers is relatively easy as the plant is hardy and adaptable.

Most of these perennials are readily available at garden centres and nurseries.

When choosing a primrose plant to take home from a nursery, make sure you choose one that has closed buds so you can enjoy the full duration of the bloom.

Primroses can be sold from seeds and can be grown either indoors or outdoors. Seeds are generally sown indoors during the winter months. Once they’ve sprouted their second or third leaves, they can be transplanted outdoors to the garden.

When to Plant Primrose

Deciding when to plant primroses will depend on whether you’re planting them as plants or from seeds. If you’re planting them as small plants, then it’s best to plant them in spring. But if you’re planting them from seeds, then opt for the autumn when the ground is still warm but it’s not too hot.

Where to Plant Primrose

When choosing a place for your primroses, make sure that you pick a spot that has sufficient shade. Primroses do well in partially shaded areas, like under the shade of leafy trees or in parts of the garden that only get sun for some of the day.

The soil in the patch you choose should also have good drainage so that your plants don’t get waterlogged. It’s recommended to turn compost and other organic matter into the soil to make sure it’s extra nutrient-rich.

How to Plant Primrose

Once you’ve picked the ideal spot, make small holes in the soil that are about 20cm apart and 10cm deep. Make sure you water them sufficiently and keep the soil moist through the dry summer months.

Primrose care

Common primrose (Primula vulgaris) also referred to as English primrose belongs to a large family of Primula. It is sold in mass-market grocery and big-box stores for a few dollars. These charming winter/spring blooming plants come in a rainbow of colors and are hard to resist. Because they are realitively inexpensive, I usually buy several plants and combine them in a basket for a big colorful splash. Primrose are considered a grow and throw plant. Once it’s done blooming it is usually thrown out.

The rosette shaped plant with wrinkled leaves, produces a cluster of brightly colored flowers with yellow eyes in the center. Some colors such as dark yellow, orange also have a delicate sweet fragrance.

Keep the plant in bright, indirect sun. Direct sun can scorch the leaves causing dried browned spots.

This blooming houseplant will last longer in cooler temperatures (60F). The soil should be well-drained and evenly moist (not wet) during bloom. Avoid overwatering, do not let the plant sit in water, it can cause root rot resulting in yellowing wilted leaves. Conversely, do not let the plant dry out or the flowers and plant will wilt.

For longer bloom time, remove spent flowers.

When selecting a Primrose plan look for blooms that are just beginning to open and avoid yellow bottom leaves.

Common primrose is an herbaceous perennial that is hardy in zone 5-8. If you managed to save your houseplant until spring, plant it outdoors in part shade and slightly moist soil. With a little luck, it should bloom the following spring . Common primrose are great in woodland gardens and low growing borders along shaded beds.

Divide crowded rosettes every 2-3 years in late spring or after bloom. Start new plants from seed in spring and fall.

Although they are called evening primrose (Oenothera biennis), some of these showy pink, yellow or white flowers bloom in the daytime, and butterflies, bees, and birds love them.

Most gardeners grow primrose flowers as annuals, although they can also be biennials or perennials, and they bloom from early spring all the way to fall. They belong to the Oenothera genus, which is native to the Americas and contains about 145 herbaceous plant species. Besides the evening primrose, common names of these species include pink ladies, snowdrops and sundrops.

If you have a rock garden, there are few plants more suited for such a location. They will thrive in full sun and light and sandy soil, which is what we have here in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, area. As you can see from the photographs, they produce open, cup-shaped flowers.

Pink ladies are not particularly fragrant but they are loved by bees, butterflies and birds.

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These yellow evening primrose flowers are often called sundrops.

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The white primrose flowers are referred to as snowdrops.

Questions & Answers

Question: Have you ever just taken off the leaves of a primrose when they look tattered from the hot dry summer?

Answer: You should leave the ragged leaves on the plant. They are providing food for the roots which will sustain them through the winter so that your plants will grow and bloom next spring. Growing iimpatiens around them is perfect to hide the unsightly leaves while allowing them to continue their important job of feeding the roots and keeping them healthy and strong.

© 2019 Caren White

Watch the video: LEAVES TURNING YELLOW? Here are 5 tips to fix the issue