Pricking out Primulas – A Marathon tale

PrimulaseedlingsOver the years I have collected seed from any plant in the garden in the hope that I can grow vast quantities for planting out the following year. Of all the plants that I’ve tried to grow from seed two have remained obstinately unsuccessful, Astrantias and Primulas. Both of these amazing and very useful plants produce huge quantities of seed every year and every year I have collected the seed and tried with zero success to propagate them – until NOW!! After a tip from Carol Klein on the difficulties of gardening on heavy clay particularly bemoaning the fact that few plants are able to self seed in heavy clay, we have success – in their hundreds. What’s the secret – I’ll tell you how!

When Astrantia and Primula have finished flowering and have set seed, don’t collect it. Instead place a seed tray filled with your normal mix of multi purpose compost on the ground directly beneath the heads of the plants and let the seeds drop into the seed tray naturally. Then leave them there all Winter until the following Spring when lo and behold you will have a tray full of seedlings ready to pot on (see image top left )This method really works well for those seeds that require a period of cold to germinate. I tried this last year as an experiment and have now potted on over 500 Astrantia Rubra and an even larger amount of Candlelabra Primula. These will form great little plants by the end of this year’s season ready for sale next Spring! Lesson learnt – never, never give up! Primula