Very unusual and pretty, Primula vialii’s claim to fame is it’s conical spikes of funneled violet-blue flowers that open from deep-red buds. Spikes of red calyces with blue-violet flowers opening from the bottom and working up. Many times each spike will have over 100 flowers densely packed on the stem.
Clumps of long, green, hairy foliage. Resembles a miniature red hot poker, only more colorful. I was awed with the duration of its flowering period, and was more than tickled pink when I was afforded a second wind later in the season!
As with most Primula, it appreciates a partly shaded placement with early morning and late afternoon sun in order to thrive. Ensure that the soil is enriched with compost as they tend to respond best with consistent feeding. Zone 5-8.
When in bloom, Primula vialii is easy to distinguish from other primroses. Its stout stalk is crowded with hundreds of tiny flowers of red calyces and blue-violet corollas. Flowering from June into July, the flowers are tightly packed on the stem. The blossom has a bottle brush appearance, similar to the red-hot poker plant (Kniphofia), although smaller. This primrose has distinctive flowers, unlike any other in the genus. It's rare to find this plant in its native haunts, as it comes close, if not already, to being an endangered species.
Pere Delavay originally discovered the species. There was some confusion to the name Delavay gave the plant. Later when George Forrest found them, he concluded they were a new discovery. He named the primrose P. littoniana. introducing them in 1906. It took some time for the name to be straightened out and given back its original name, P. vialii.
Zone 5-8. 30-60cm in height. Humus rich organic soil neutral to slightly acidic. Side dress with composted organic matter in Spring.
Available at LittleTree Horticulture, Spring 2011.