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Winter and Early Spring Color
This has been a relatively cold winter with a number of days with temperatures below freezing. The result is freeze-killed foliage and dormant grass. If you want to perk up the landscape, however, there are still lots of options. The cold weather annuals will bloom from now until the end of April.
A plant that is really showy this winter is the primula, also called primrose. There seem to be two versions in area nurseries. The “Acaulis” have always been a favorite. The bloom colors are unbelievably intense, no subtlety here. Reds, yellow, white, Carmen and blue. Do you remember the clowns in the circus with their painted faces? Those are the colors of “Acaulis” primula blooms. The foliage is also attractive. The leaves are dark green and crinkly. This variety of primula grows just like pansies with the leaves and blooms close to the ground.
Another primula variety to consider is “Obonica”. It is relatively tall at 8-10 inches and is topped by a cluster of blooms in several pastel colors including blue, pink and white. I am using “Obonica” to replace impatiens in containers killed by the freezes this winter. They receive shade most of the day but receive direct sun for about two hours. They do not need direct sun but can tolerate some. Primula remain blooming as long as temperatures remain cool.
A key factor in primula care is to protect the plants from pill bugs, slugs and snails. Slug bait works well. My plants in large containers have not been bothered this year, but when temperatures stay mild for a while, the pests will find them. If you use the pellets, the bait last longer than the smaller flakes.
Check out the primulas at your favorite nursery. They may be on sale and they will make a great show in your landscape until hot weather arrives.