Flower Focus: Polyanthus

Polyanthus plants boast extremely lengthy, elegant stems, which emerge from bold, textured foliage.

They’re celebrated for their bright colours and come from a large, varied group of Primula.

This particular specie of plant is renowned for its ability to withstand extreme weather, with new life beginning in the early spring.

Here we’ve listed a few tips on how to grow polyanthus so you can enjoy it in your garden.

The basics – Polyanthus

Polyanthus flowers are particularly varied in style and size. Some boast clustered blooms, whilst others feature singular flowers. These are a very popular bedding plant, perfect for creating vivacious garden displays from late winter to late spring. They’re a very hardy plant specie and come in an assortment of hues, including everything from pure white to vibrant red.

Where did polyanthus originate from?

It’s believed these floral species are born from a natural hybrid between the cowslip (Primula veris) and the traditional primrose (Primula vulgaris). The result was named the ‘false oxlip’, which showcased a series of showy flowers. The word ‘Polyanthus’ first became apparent in the 1670s, with a labelled illustration which featured in a plant catalogue.

When and where to plant Polyanthus?

Polyanthus plants enjoy moist, well-drained soil. For best results, plant plug plants from mid-September to early October. This is dependent on the size of the plants required. You can also grow these plants indoors; but when they reach eight to 10cm in height, you should transfer them outdoors.


How to plant Polyanthus

If planting in a container, fill the vessel with multipurpose compost about three quarters full. Remove the plant from its existing pot or tray (unless planting from seed) being mindful not to damage the roots and carefully place into position. Add the remaining soil to the plant pot and press firmly into place then water generously.

If planting outdoors; use a trowel to dig an ample sized hole, which should be the same size as the plant’s root ball. Place into position and firm down the soil. The plant should be watered immediately and if planting more than one Polyanthus, you should leave a 10cm gap between each shrub.

Watering your Polyanthus plant

It is important to use your judgement and to water your Polyanthus when necessary, especially in cooler climates as soil in potted plants has a habit of drying out quickly when faced with winter winds. However, be mindful not to saturate the soil as this can cause root rot. For best results, feed your plants on a regular basis, using a quality fertiliser.


In most environments, Polyanthus bloom in the spring. However, flowering time will vary slightly depending on the weather. For example, a harsh winter may cause a delay in flowering, while a mild winter will promote earlier blooms.

Plant Care

If you wish to ensure your Polyanthus grows to its full potential, it’s important to cut away dead heads and remove any yellow leaves as and when they appear. Post flowering, these shrubs can be either moved or left to naturalise.


Everything you need to know…

There are a variety of Polyanthus species to choose from. One of the most sought-after being the Polyanthus Gold Lace – a golden eyes bloom with black petals – which is a great option for the garden as it attracts plenty of wildlife, including bees and butterflies. This particular specie is described as a historical gem, and dates all the way back to the 1780s.

Varieties of polyanthus

There are many varieties of polyanthus to choose from, including:

Primula ‘Crescendo Blue Shades’: This short-lived perennial grows to around 25cm in height and is traditionally grown as an annual. It boasts erect stems and a rosette of oblong leaves brandishing large, stunning blue flowers, embellished with yellow eyes.

Primula ‘Guinevere’: This semi-evergreen perennial reaches a height of 12cm and promises to add an instant injection of colour to your garden, with its rosette of bronze and purple leaves and its umbels of pink and purple, yellow-eyed blooms.

Primula ‘Crescendo Pink and Rose Shades’: This specie offers particularly large flowers in various hues, comprising pastel pinks and deep rose shades. It’s a popular option for those who wish to add a feminine touch to their garden.

Primula ‘Dark Rosaleen’: This semi-evergreen perennial can reach a height of 15cm, which makes it one of the taller species. Its leaves are tinged with shades of purple, which perfectly complement its pink and purple flowers, both of which are embellished with yellow eyes and pretty pink stripes.

Primula ‘Francisca’: This variety can grow to 18cm in height and offers a pretty rosette of green leaves and green and yellow-eyed blooms. This specie is one of the more weather-resistant variants and will flower throughout the spring and summer months.

Primula ‘Crescendo Bright Red’: This clump-forming perennial boasts umbels of vibrant red blooms with large yellow eyes. It comes to life in late winter and spring.

Primula ‘Don Keefe’: This semi-evergreen perennial reaches 20cm in height and features bright red and orange flowers, set against a backdrop of light green leaves.

Primula ‘Gold-laced Group’: This is another variant that grows to 20cm in height. The flowers are unique in that they have a golden centre, surrounded by rich gold-tinged mahogany petals. The leaves are oval in shape and it’s a semi-evergreen that makes a perfect addition to any outdoor space.

Polyanthus – Resources:

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Flowers By Occasion And Holiday

Specialized Gift Ideas

Lily Calyx is our in-house flower whisperer, an expert on all things botanical and an enthusiastic orchids collector. She loves discussing the insights of the secret world of flowers, shares her gardening tips and hacks and moons over the latest additions to Serenata Flowers flower range. Ask Lily anything about flowers and we can guarantee she will have the answer.

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