JOHN’S JOURNAL

How to Grow Auriculas

Auriculas have had a place in my heart for many years now, their flowers are just so unique, individually different and filled with the joy of ‘Spring’ along with a delightful fragrance. We have grown them at Holden Clough for decades now, adding many different varieties to our collection over the years and now at the nursery they are just beginning to flower.

Auriculas are a section of the Primula family, so related to Primroses and Bog Primulas, they originate from the wild species of Primula auricula which is found in the European Alps, then in the mid 1600s breeding began on striped and double varieties, this then led on to a whole host of colours and many delightfully detailed  varieties being introduced and they became especially popular in the latter years of the Victorian era.

It’s surprising just how easy they are to grow aswell and for any beginners you want to stick to the ones with a plain green leaf, these are classed as either ‘Border’ or ‘Alpine’ varieties, meaning they are used to growing outside without any additional protection from the Winter rain. They are also all fully frost hardy and the ones with a fine dusting on their leaves just require a little cover in the Winter keeping the rain off them and then they are happy.

They love being grown in a traditional terracotta pot, positioned somewhere in the morning sun, but shaded from the afternoon sun, they can tolerate it but their leaves will just wilt and they look like they are dry but they aren’t. The compost mix to pot them up into is simple, use a 3 part mix made up with John Innes No.3, Multi Purpose Compost, and Pearlite or Grit Sand with some slow release fertiliser mixed in and if you use any liquid fertiliser on them feed them in late Summer and early Spring using Tomato food to help encourage lots of flowers. In a pot you have full flexibility of where to position them and at this time of year its best to show the flowers off in an ‘Auricula Theatre’ a shelved unit with either a black background, or at the nursery you will find ours is bright yellow!

Once you start growing them you will understand why there are so many different varieties, they are a very collectable thing, all of them unique in their own little way and now is the perfect time to see them in flower as well, our yellow Hungarian dresser is filled with many of our varieties all grown in our Growing field and I’ve always got my eye out for any new distinct ones when visiting the Spring flower shows, I just can’t help myself!

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

Can I divide Auriculas now?

The time to divide them is either after flowering or you can also do it later on in the Summer, from September onwards. They naturally multiply and you simly take them out of their pots, tease off all the compost and then either tease apart the main rosettes or if they are smaller you can trim them off as close to the main stem as possible with a sharp knife and then pot them up, you will find they have already begin to sprout roots and they will soon establish 

How often should I re-pot Auriculas?

It’s always best to re-pot them every year, Primulas always thrive on fresh bacteria and this helps promote healthy new growth and keeps them happy. Always use fresh compost and then give them a good watering after repotting.

Do I need to support the flower stems?

Sometimes you will see little metal stems made to support the flower stems perfectly upright, often used when displaying them to achieve perfection. You can make these yourself using some florist wire, normally 1.5-2mm thick is perfect. You can also selectively trim out the flowers when in bud so the plants put more energy into the buds that are left also giving them more space so not to be over congested, there are lots of little tricks and tips to growing them once you really get into it!

 

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

 

Plant of The Week

Primula auricula ‘Piers Telford’

A splendid variety producing many large gold centred flowers with a bright orange and brown edge. It’s a strong growing variety and the flower colour literally glows. There is so many colours and variations to choose from but this if one of my favourites