Primula chionantha is a wonderful May-flowering primula, but not exactly reliable with me. It suffers from the usual primula hazards of disliking the heat in summer and of rotting at the neck in winter if it gets rain rather than snow. It also dislikes clay, so I have to fuss around with compost and grit. But it does set large quantities of seed, so I try to keep it going that way, if I remember to deal with the seed heads in time.This year, I caught them at the right stage, just when the capsules had turned semi-transparent. A couple of days drying out in the greenhouse, and I can turn out the seed onto a sheet of white paper:
I sowed it right away, sprinkling it over the surface of a deep trough, which I lined with pea gravel, then filled with a mix of approximately 5 parts peat-based compost to one part John Innes Seed & cutting, which provides a reasonable balance of the gritty stuff to the water-retentive stuff. I used a deep trough, because I won’t transplant any seedlings until they are two years old, and they’ll need space to start putting down their deep roots.
Several primula species need a period of cold before they will germinate (stratification). Serious growers use the freezer compartments of their fridge, but mine is usually full of food, so I prefer to let the Scottish winter do the job. I don’t know whether p.chionantha actually needs stratification – but it will be very foolish if it germinates now.
I think the seeds probably need all the help they can get, so I’ve left them here beneath my Pictish stone, so that the fertility symbol can work its magic on them. The mix in the tray does look vaguely like the ashes of a sacrificed maiden….perhaps the stone will be fooled? More probably, someone will report me to the police, and I shall have a difficult time explaining things….
As it happened, the fertility symbol encouraged a healthy germination of birch seedlings rather than primulas. I grew tired of picking them out and moved the tray into a shady part of the greenhouse in spring to give the seeds a bit of heat and shelter. The primulas eventually appeared – in sufficient numbers for me to be quite pleased