Primula japonica (also called Candelabra Primula)

Primula japonica is a hardy primrose native to Japan and perfectly suited for Canadian gardens. Other common names include Japanese primrose, Japanese cowslip and Candelabra Primula.

This herbaceous perennial will start growing its light green foliage as soon as the ground thaws in the spring and by early or mid May the flower buds will start showing colour. By late May the plants will have 6" to 10" bloom scapes with a whorl or tier of florets circling around. P. japonica is often called a Candelabra Primula because as the first whorl of florets starts to fade, the scape extends and a second tier develops. By the time bloom finishes most plants will have bloomed with 4 or 5 tiers and some as many as 6 tiers with a total height of up to 2 feet. Although July bloom is not as beautiful as the earlier June bloom, we have seen plants that still had colour the 3rd week of July. Not bad to have up to 8 weeks of colour and P. Japonica sometimes reblooms in September as the days start becoming cooler.

Although it is frequently written that P. japonica is a woodland plant that prefers moist shade, we have successfully grown it in a wide variety of conditions including relatively full sun and hot dry clay soil. Wonderfully adaptable it may not bloon as tall or as long in dry sunny conditions, but it still comes back year after year.

Bloom colour varys from very near white through many shades of pink to a quite deep magenta-red. Primula japonica is perfect in the woodland garden in the company of ferns, hosta, forget-me-nots and huechera.

For 2017 we have Primula japonica in 1 gallon containers with price of $12. These plants will be available for pickup only, starting in early May (sorry no mailorders of Primula).


Just starting to bloom mid/late May.


Scape in the center of the photo shows the start of second and third tiers of florets.


A colourful spot in the spring garden.


Closeup of the tiers of florets.