Primula japonica Millers Crimson

posted in: Gardening | 17
Primula japonica Millers Crimson RHS AGM grows profusely in this corner of the garden. The Muddy Boots Shade Garden is part of the leavesnbloom garden that has quite a reputation. Consequently if a plant can survive a winter here then it deserves a medal …and a blog post!  This plant is a great choice for a moist and shady area of your garden. Particularly so if it has humus rich neutral to acid soil.
Candelabra primrose Primula japonica Millers Crimson RHS AGM
Muddy Boots Shade Garden with the Candelabra primrose Primula japonica Millers Crimson RHS AGM
The Candelabra primrose Primula japonica species love to have wet feet with their flowers in the shade. As a result they have been the perfect plants to hybridize in this border. They can cope with being in the coldest and wettest part of the garden. In addition after the 2009 and 2010 Scottish winters they have really proved how hardy they can be here in the UK. ( Zone 3-8 in the USA from what I’ve read though would really like to have confirmation on this for my US readers).
this is an image of pink Primula japonica Millers crimson flowers
Proliferae, candelabra type of moisture loving herbaceous perennial

Primula japonica Millers Crimson Flowers

Primula japonica Millers Crimson blooms from the bottom to the top on stout 18 inch silvery stems from the middle of May well into June. That’s about 6 weeks so it could be classed as a late spring flowering plant.
candelabrum whorl of Primula japonica Millers Crimson flowers
Each of these stems has about 6 tiers of whorls held aloft at intervals all up the stem.
Whorl of candelabra primula
each whorl contains about 9 flowers
While each of those whorls contains about 9 individual primrose looking flowers each with a fragrance that lasts for about one week.
candelabra primrose flowers on each whorl
scented candelabra primrose flowers on each whorl


Let Primula japonica Millers Crimson liberally hybridize with surrounding primulas and itwon’t be long until you’ve a drift of pink, white, red and all the shades in between. Mine have hybridized with much paler pink Primula japonica ‘Apple Blossom’.
pink candelabra primrose flowers
Rosette forming deciduous hybridized candelabra primula
It’s got to the stage now where I only let a few of the candelabras self seed. If I let them all then I probably would have to start a primula business as the seeds germinate very quickly …even into the lawn!
It grows into large clumps so you can propagated by division in the autumn too. Just make sure you water those new divisions regularly until established.
millers crimson primroses
 Rosette forming deciduous candelabra Primula japonica Millers Crimson

As a cut flower

They make very unique looking cut flowers with their whorls and silvery stems. The best way to keep them looking good in a vase for about a week is to sear the ends of the stem in boiling water just after being cut.
silver stems from Primula japonica Millers Crimson
Silvery buds and stems
So if you’ve got a  wet and shady or damp woodland corner like mine then I can thoroughly recommend Primula japonica ‘Miller’s Crimson’ and its offspring to give lots of colour and scent.
Just let it seed all over the place for maximum impact.
Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. She also writes and shares her nature images on

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17 Responses

  1. Larry

    I enjoyed seeing your wonderful stand of primula! Mine have been challenged this year. Despite being located right next to the hose and daily doses of water, it has been hard to keep them from wilting as we have experienced a lot of hot drying winds this spring… Larry

  2. Ellie

    Your garden is looking beautiful and that is such a lovely flower. I love the shot you took from the top looking down on the flower.
    Hope you are getting this great weather that we are loving at the moment.

  3. Mark and Gaz

    Primula candelabras caught our eye when we visited Trenwainton recently, and they were growing by the stream. Osmunda regalis is a lovely fern for a damp location 🙂

  4. Alistair

    Rosie, here you are again featuring a plant and grabbing my attention. I have just the spot for this one. The plant that has grabbed my attention in our garden this Spring is Brunnera Jack Frost. It is in a spot that gets absolutely no sunshine and has been magnificent flowering very profusely.

  5. Richard Havenga


    I love the Genus name: "Candelabra". A perfect descriptor, and the word is just plain fun to say aloud.

    You have shown a good variety of photos shot from different angles. Good work.


  6. Lucy

    Bother, was hoping this would solve a dry shade problem.

    I feel a right ignoramus about new Blogger systems. If you leave a comment on my blog, there's a picture of you beside it. It used to be that if I clicked on that, I would get to your profile page and I could get from there to your blog. Now it goes to a Google + page and I can't work out how to travel from there to here. It's ok in a way because I can still reach your blog through my reading list but . . . advice?


    Wet areas, I wish we had some in this very dry Spring. Love your up close look at the Primula. My small Hosta 'Autumn Frost' does like the wettest part of my garden, but no swamp areas for marsh plants to grow.

  8. Andrea

    Hello Rosie, how are you! I've been two posts behind in reading because i've suffered from internet displacement syndrome! hahaha. Both PC and laptop had problems, and i dont want to go to internet shops. Anyway, it is always soul gratifying to look at your professional photos. And that first corner looks like an exhibit in garden shows. Lastly, i would like to add my 2-cents tips in prolonging cutflowers's life. Before putting the stems in the vase, put a teaspoon of bleach/hypochlorite solution in the vasewater and a tsp of sugar. That arrests bacteria which will clog the plants vascular systems and sugar provides some food.

  9. Wife, Mother, Gardener

    Just beautiful! I love these and look forward to having a damp patch someday fill to the brim. I love the red variety. Your photos are amazing as always!!!

  10. Anonymous

    Hi. I have an area which is quite 'wild' and I'd love to have a bunch of these growing amongst everything else (mostly grass, buttercups, nettles). Would they germinate if I just sprinkled them around or would I need to clear a patch for them?

  11. Christina

    I love the strong, bright colours of this primula. A great plant, I've no damp patches anywhere so nice to look at yours. Christina

  12. Rosie Nixon

    @Anonymous I think you would have to clear an area as there would just be too much competition for moisture – though some of mine have self seeded into the lawn but I don't leave them there. I think that if they were established first with plenty of room to grow then you could eventually let the area grow wild with some maintenance every year to keep the thugs in order.

  13. Melanie

    These are beautiful Rosie. I have many Primulas in my garden but not this one. My garden isn't damp enough.