Showing Primula Auriculas

Whilst crocuses, daffodils, and tulips tend to dominate spring, there are many other early flowering blooms, including the many different forms of primula. The name primula means ‘early’ stemming from the latin ‘primus’. 

One particular form with a long show history is the Primula auricula. Auriculas bloom slightly later than the traditional timing of The Caley’s Spring Show so the 2020 lockdown virtual show was the first time The Caley had focused on auriculas. This year, however, like last, there will be a dedicated Auricula and Primula Show at The Caley’s home base at Saughton Park on Sunday 14th May.  

Auriculas are easy to grow and are well suited to growing in Scotland, although they do not like it too wet. A free-draining soil in a cool, airy spot out of the midday sun is perfect. They are often grown in theatres, even makeshift theatres, to give plants the cooler outdoor conditions they like, while still providing some shelter from extreme wet and too much sunshine.

Range of Plants

People have been growing auriculas since the middle of the 16th century so the range of plants is amazing. 

Alpine Auriculas

Alpine auriculas are usually considered to the easiest of the auriculas to grow. The shading outside of the eye of the flower is usually darker on the inside, becoming lighter towards the outside.

Primula auricula ‘Tummel’ (Alpine)
Primula auricula ‘Victoria de Weymss’ (Alpine)

Border Auriculas

These are perhaps the toughest and can withstand most weather conditions. They have tough, fleshy leaves that are sometimes powdery (farina) and the flowers are often scented. Whilst they are regarded as suitable for growing in the open garden, the farina can be affected by heavy rain. Generally speaking the flowers of Border auriculas are smaller than alpine varieties and their colour a little more subdued. They can look good in containers.

Primula auricula ‘Eden Blue Star’ (Border)
Primula auricula ‘Lucy Locket’ (Border)

Double Auriculas

Double auriculas have an almost rose-shaped flower. They were extremely popular in the 18th century but for a long time fell out of fashion, although there are now an increasing number of hybrids.

Primula auricula ‘Pumkin’ (Double)
Primula auricula ‘Sibsey’ (Double)

Show Type Auriculas

There are four main groups of Show type auricula:

  1. Self Show Auriculas have a single uniform colour and a circle of white in the middle. 
  2. Striped Show Auriculas have stripes of farina (white grain-like) on coloured petals.
  3. Edged Show Auriculas flowers are edged with green or grey. These can be a little more difficult and to some people, appear almost unreal.
  4. Fancy Auriculas are simply an edged auricula that does not quite fit the description of an edged auricula!
Primula uricula ‘Belle Zana’ (Self)
Primula auricula’ Trafalgar Square’ (Fancy)
Primula auricula ‘White Ensign’ (Fancy)

With such a vast array from which to choose, and being generally easy to propagate, it is perhaps surprising that more people do not grow them.

Why not come along to see these gorgeous plants in all their glory and variety at The Caley’s Auricula & Primula Show on Sunday 14th May 2023? 

For those keen to exhibit, there will be someone on hand to advise you during set up for the show. The full schedule can be found on The Caley’s website and if you have any questions, contact The Caley on

Leave a Reply