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  • Writer's pictureSandi

Successfully Press Primulas: A Short Guide for Beautiful Results

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

One of Springtime's iconic flowers is the primula or primrose.There are currently 430 species of Primula. These plants are very amenable to hybridization and doubtless many varieties have come and gone over the centuries. This plant's name derives from the Latin 'primus' meaning 'first' as it is one of the first plants to flower in springtime. The wild primrose seen in Britain at woodland edges, clinging to banks and rocky hillocks has a subtle yellow hue with a darker yellow centre as in the photo below. Seen en masse the colour appears to be darker, but close-up the primrose's hue is of the faintest but prettiest yellow - perfectly suited to Spring's blue sky. The leaves are very textured with prominent veins.


©Sandi Phillips

Primula scotica

The Primula scotica is endemic to the north coast of Scotland and the Orkney Isles. Its leaves are hairier than other primula and consists of a lighter green. In the UK it is illegal to pick flowers or the plants of wild primula (and that includes the ever-decreasing cowslip [Primula veris). The cowslip grows on calcereous soil and prefers sunnier and drier conditions to other primula. The cowslip flowers in April and May, so follows on from the earlier-flowering primula. Its flowers are borne on tall stems thus making it easily recognisable.


The oxlip [Primula elatior] grows in Switzerland and in a small area of the UK. Primula vulgaris subsp. sibthorpii grows in the eastern Mediterranean and is coloured mauve. The mountains of Greece, Majorca and Sicily have Primula balearica, a white subspecies which is rare. A primula is represented on one side of the Austrian five cent euro coin.

Candelabra primula have whorls or umbels of flowers on a single erect stem and come in many colours. These varieties of primula thrive in acid to neutral soil which is moist or poor-draining. As with other primula they also prefer shady conditions.

Candelabra primula

It is the primula/polyanthus growing in my own garden that I press. It's not only humans that love primulas in all their different forms... unfortunately slugs and snails like them too! Pressing your precious primulas is fairly easy if using a microwave press with one caveat! If too much heat is applied in one go then the wafer-thin flowers will stick to the cloth and become very brittle. It is best to microwave in short bursts and keep checking that the moisture has gone from the flower. Once satisfied that all moisture has gone, you will still be able to gently tease the flowers away from the cloth. Another point to note is that the pigment will change once heat is applied to some of the polyanthus colours.

©Sandi Phillips

Primulas press well in many ways - in traditional presses as well as using microwave ovens.

One particular press that can be used

in the microwave is the Microfleur. This is a great tool for the flower presser that you will be able to use to successfully press your primulas. Available from Microfleur's website*:

*If you purchase the Microfleur using this link, I get a small percentage.

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