Primula ‘Francisca’

To the casual observer it may seem as though I am going through a ‘freaky plant’ phase what with recent posts about kinki saxifrages and green tulips and now a green primula It is just coincidence but I also like unusual plants. So this post is about a fairly new plant that is unusual and, in my opinion, beautiful.

I like primulas and had a serious primula crush in my teens. Having read the Roy Genders book on primulas I went on hunts for old, antique varieties. Most of these are now lost but the good news is that lots of interesting primulas are now available, due to recent new breeding. Gold-laced primulas which were incredibly rare 30 years ago are now available in every garden centre and double primroses are now common.

primula francesca4

‘Francisca’ is a beautiful green polyanthus that is becoming widely available. Despite its odd appearance this is not the result of some mad, intensive breeding programme. It was discovered by Francisca Dart in Surrey, British Columbia on a traffic island. She recognised how special it was. Knowing its history is good so I know it is ‘Francisca’ and not ‘Francesca’ as so often listed.

primula francesca

Primroses and polyanthus have a long history of producing strange forms and often the calyx cam become enlarged and form a ruff behind the flower (‘jack-in-the-green’)  or it can become petaloid to produce ‘hose-in-hose’ flowers. In ‘Francisca’ the calyx is normal, if a little frilly and the petals have become almost leaflike. The flowers are green with a yellow centre. The anthers and stigma seem abnormal and I will have to see if I can get seed or pollen off it to try to make something new.

primula francesca2

Anyway, one of the great things about the plant, perhaps because it has green tissue in the flowers, is that it is very vigorous and easy to grow. A plant quickly makes a good clump, the flowers last ages (almost so long that they look tatty rather than die) and the flowering period is extensive, usually going on well beyond May and into June or July.

DSC_5298 copy

I will totally understand if you think this looks like broccoli rather than a polyanthus but I love it.


Update – 11 Aug 14; it is hard to believe but this thing is still in bloom. It looks a bit scruffy I will admit but there are still good-looking blooms – amazing!

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  1. Location, location, location | The Biking Gardener - May 17, 2021

    […] a brighter note, a few words of praise (again) for primula ‘Francisca’, (more here) . My plants have had to cope with wet winter soil and are all planted under the embryonic hornbeam […]

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