Primula
Gardening

Primulas – How to Divide these Perennials for Free Plants

dividing primulas

What is a primula?

Primulas are a family of perennial plants that include primroses and polyanthus. Primroses have short stemmed flowers and polyanthus have long stemmed flowers. Perennial plants are plants that come back year after year. They grow by forming clumps that get larger and larger. This is the reason us gardeners can divide them and make new plants for free.

Primulas

When do you divide primulas?

All primulas can be divided immediately after flowering (which is what I did in this tutorial) or in autumn (fall). If you divide after flowering then the plants get a longer growing season but you must keep them watered or they will die as they are not established plants yet. Dividing in autumn (fall) avoids this but if you have harsh weather in winter then spring divisions are likely to be more successful.

How to divide your primulas

Dig up your plant

The first step is to identify your congested clump of primulas. If your primulas look like mine do with lots of crowns and flowers all close together then it is a congested clump.

Congested Primulas

Dig up the whole clump of primulas once it has finished flowering. If you get underneath it with a spade then the clump will stay together and generally come out as one piece. If you have a really large clump you may need to get it out in more than one piece. Use your judgement.

Digging out the clump

Dividing the clump

Once you have your clump out place it on the ground and take a look. If possible, remove any other plants. For example I had forget-me-nots through mine.

Clump of primulas

Look carefully at your clump. If you have any small plants around the edge of the clump try teasing them out from the clump using your fingers. This should result in less damage to the roots.

Separating by hand

Place any separated plants to the side in shade. If you are going to be a while moisten the roots.

Once you can no longer remove any plants by hand take a look at your clump. If it still has several crowns then you may need to separate it using your spade. Simply cut through the clump between two crowns.

Separating clump with a spade

Repeat until you are happy with your remaining clumps. Each one must have at least one crown but if you are finding some hard to separate you can re-plant them as they are with several crowns.

This is what I got from my clump. As you can see some are much larger than others.

Separate primula plants

Re-planting

Decide where you would like your primulas and re-plant them. My first plant went back into where the original clump came from. Firm the new plant in making sure that there are no air pockets in the soil.

Re-planted primula

Cut off any old flower stems and any leaves that you think are damaged or yellowing.

Cutting off flower stalks

Water the plant thoroughly allowing the water to soak in.

Water the primula

Now repeat this with all your other new plants and spread your primulas around. You can also pot them up and give them away to your gardening friends if you prefer.

Planting a primula

Make sure you keep your new plants well watered until they have established. Protect from any drought conditions in the first year.

Summary

Primulas like so many perennials can be divided to produce new plants. It is a great way of filling your garden with gorgeous flowers for free. Who doesn’t want that?

Key tips are:

To do it quickly. You do not want your plants out of the soil for any longer than necessary as they will dry out and not thrive in their new surroundings.

If you find that they are drying out too quickly and struggling you can cut back some of the leaves to prevent the plant losing too much moisture.

Be bold. When separating your plants it is a bit nerve-wracking but just go for it. They are quite robust!

Further Gardening Help

I have lots of other gardening articles on the blog. You can find them all under Gardening. All my articles are aimed at producing a fabulous garden on a budget.

They include:

How to get free shrubs from cuttings

Successful Seed Sowing

How to transplant seedlings

How to grow a lavender hedge from a packet of seed

Good luck with your primulas and your garden. Let me know in the comments section below any questions or suggestions you have.

dividing primulas

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