Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Asiatic Primrose, Cortusoides Primula
Primula sieboldii

Family: Primulaceae
Genus: Primula (PRIM-yew-luh) (Info)
Species: sieboldii (see-BOLD-ee-eye) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

8 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
Magenta (Pink-Purple)
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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By ms_greenjeans
Thumbnail #1 of Primula sieboldii by ms_greenjeans

By Galanthophile
Thumbnail #2 of Primula sieboldii by Galanthophile

By Galanthophile
Thumbnail #3 of Primula sieboldii by Galanthophile

By growin
Thumbnail #4 of Primula sieboldii by growin


3 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Oct 8, 2012, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A beautiful, tough, trouble-free plant that's well adapted to eastern North America---here it's the easiest of all primroses to grow.

Beautiful showy flowers in late spring, later than most primroses, held above the attractive foliage in umbels bearing 6-11 flowers.

If you want a common name for it, Siebold primrose is unambiguous. There are many different species of Asiatic and cortusoides primroses.

Flowers show a great deal of genetic variability in color, patterning, size and form, and hundreds of distinctly different cultivars have been named. Colors range from white through soft pink to magenta or bluish lavender, and may differ on the petal reverse. Petals may be smoothly rounded, or as intricately cut as snowflakes. Check Google images for a taste of the diversity.

The Japanese compare the flower display to fallen cherry blossoms, and call this primrose "cherry-blossom herb". Here it blooms several weeks after the last cherry blossom has fallen.

Unlike most primroses, it can go summer dormant to escape summer conditions that are too hot or dry for it. Without regular irrigation, it generally goes dormant in mid-summer here (Boston Z6a). I find it does best here in dappled shade and woodland conditions, though in Japan it's a plant of moist meadows.

Plants grow vigorously (but not aggressively) from shallow branching rhizomes, soon forming good clumps. Easy to propagate by division any time the ground is workable.

A great perennial for deciduous shade. Like all primroses, it dislikes hot humid summers---but if I lived in the southeastern US and wanted to try growing a primrose, this is the first one I'd try.

Positive ms_greenjeans On Jun 1, 2011, ms_greenjeans from Hopkins, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

This a beautiful spring flowering perennial. It does go dormant in the summer, but until then the color of the flowers and the light green foliage simply glow in my shade garden. I can't even describe the flower color - but I love it. The very small initial plant has now become a small colony, and I hope it continues to increase. Very hardy and trouble-free.

Neutral bluespiral On Jan 25, 2007, bluespiral from (Zone 7a) wrote:

December 5, 2007 -

There's a winter sowing database now in the works, so this comment may be totally unnecessary. But for now, let me follow up on how my efforts to germinate seed of this plant went last winter: I sowed the seed on top of a layer of sand over plain ol' potting soil in a qt-size recycled yogurt container and put it outdoors on February 18, 2007. The seeds began germinating on April 1, and I now have some beautiful plants that look like they'll flower next spring. That's all there was to it - all of the detail below wasn't necessary in light of the fact that for centuries people have been putting pans surface-sown with primrose seed outdoors over winter and winding up with plants in spring.

The seeds seemed to be kept from washing out by lodging among the grains of sand, and I made little roofs of chicken wire to keep out animals. To keep out slugs, I attached sandpaper to the legs of the supporting table with rubber bands.

But I'll leave the details below for the time being to

1) highlight how very much simpler this method was than those below - no monitoring of temperatures, etc. - just put outdoors and forget; and

2) because, between them all, the sources below taught me how varied the germination process can be, and with so many plants' germination inhibitors to "crack", they are invaluable sources to know about.

January 25, 2007 -

Following is some detailed information on germinating this seed. For such a delicately beautiful woodlander that is so particular about the conditions under which it will germinate, I hope others will find this as useful as I do:

1) Sow @ 18-22*C [~64-71*F] for 2-4 wks; then move to -4 to 4*C [24-39*F] for 4-6 wks; then move to 5-12*C [41-53*F] for germination.

2) One site also advises alternately exposing the seed - repeatedly - to 70*F and 40*F for 3 months each. It notes the following:

a) 'Dry storage for 6 months is fatal to this seed"
b) "Germination is very prolonged"
c) "Requires darkness"
d) "Germination is improved by using GA3" (Gibberellic Acid

3) 2nd edition of Norman C. Deno's book, Seed Germination Theory and Practice - Deno's comparative results make an interesting comment on the foregoing:

a) When seed was sown in dark with GA-3, 54% of the seed germinated in the 3rd week, which was less than that obtained without using GA-3 when the seed was exposed to a temperature sequence of 70*F - 40*F - 70*F at 3 months each (62% germinated).

b) Exposing seed to 3 months each at 40*F-70*F-40*F resulted in no germination.

c) Seeds dry-stored for 6 months at 70*F or 40*F were dead.

Hmmm. Since the seed I just received from NARGS was probably harvested no later than last July, germination is looking dubious. Also, wintersowing it now would begin the sequence of temperatures around 40*F, which #3b shows isn't very promising, either. So, I will sow the seed anyway - half by wintersowing method, and the other half by the method in 3a without GA-3 (if I had GA-3, I'd try it).

My best option, at this point, might be to purchase a plant in the spring so I can harvest fresh seed to work with in the future. For the record, let me say that NARGS allows for members to contact the donors of seed like this to see if any fresh seed can be obtained.

Positive Todd_Boland On Dec 4, 2004, Todd_Boland from St. John's, NL (Zone 5b) wrote:

This Japanese-Siberian species of primrose makes a good addition to the woodland garden. They have light green, crinkled leaves. A 6-8" stem arises with a few large white , pink or reddish flowers, often with a white 'star' in the centre. Very attractive species that is available in a number of named selections. The plant will go dormant my mid-late summer so carefully mark the area so you will know where it was planted.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Juneau, Alaska
Ellicott City, Maryland
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Hopkins, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Webster, New York
Raleigh, North Carolina

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