Primula Obconica

Poison Primrose

The Primula obconica is a popular winter and spring flowering pot plant that displays attractive flower clusters in a variety of colors.

Named the Poison primrose because of the effect it has on those with sensitive skin (causes irritation) on contact.


Close up of flowers

It's easy to see why this species and others within the primula genus have become popular plants to display during winter and early spring. While many other plants are taking their winter rest, the obconica is in full bloom and bringing color in to homes.

Fairly cool conditions and the need for light, but not direct sunlight - makes them easy enough to grow indoors during winter. This tender perennial can be kept in a cool place after flowers have faded to encourage a bloom for the following year or they can be cut back and placed outside in a shaded spot then returned inside before winter (they may or may not survive or flower again).

Flowers: The Primula obconican blooms during winter and early spring with flowers that last for 6 weeks or more. There are a number of varieties with different flower colors but the bi-color types are the most attractive. The flowers sit well above the heart shaped leaves on stalks that grow up to 12 inches tall. They usually produce 2 - 3 stalks with an umbel of flower clusters.

Buying advice: When purchasing a Poison primrose from a store it's best to a buy a plant with buds ready to bloom (see picture below). This will make sure your getting a plant that has plenty of flowering time left.

Level of care: A beginner grower could easily grow these or at least keep them in bloom for this season by following a few of the given instructions below.

Pets: This plant can be toxic to cats, dogs or horses if ingested and may cause vomiting.


Origin: China.
Names: Poison or German primrose (common). -- Pimula obconica (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): 10 - 12in tall.
Poisonous for pets: Toxic to cats and dogs.

Full plant picture in pot
Close up of flower
Close up of flower buds

Poison Primrose Care

Temperature: Cool temperatures of 55 - 65°F (13 - 18°C) are best suited.
Light: Like many other flowering plants this species enjoys plenty of light, without direct sunlight. It can be tricky to get the right light without the temperature being too high.
Watering: During the flowering season keep the soil moist at all times. Not enough water and the plant will begin to wilt.
Soil: A peat based potting mix is suggested.
Fertilizer: You will only need to feed these once before flowering and then once while in bloom. Use a diluted balanced liquid fertilizer half the advised strength stated on the label.
Humidity: If humidity levels within a room are low increase by placing the plant on a pebble humidity tray, and you can mist the leaves occasionally.
Propagation: Propagate by sowing seeds during summer time.
Warning! When pruning or handling this plant use gloves to prevent skin irritation.

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