Saturday, April 16

Nature does it best

This time of year we always have a lovely display of native primroses on our plot.
They originated from about half a dozen plants that I managed to raise from a whole packet of seed some years ago.
At this time of year they have to be one of my favourite flowers. Each year they seed freely - and the seeds germinate far more successfully than I managed from that packet of seeds.

Many grow on the grass paths and are in grave danger of decaptiation by strimmer.
With an eye to preserving the strays, last week I rounded them up and transported them from plot to garden.
The rescued young plants were planted amongst the hellebores as soon as they arrived back in the garden where I am hoping they will create a colony. To help them on their way I will scatter any fresh seeds that I can gather from those on the plot. I think sowing freshly is the key to success. The plants don't store seeds in packets until spring do they?

The proliferation of new young plants isn't confined to our native primrose. Last year I bought four cultivated varieties.
They too have been busily reproducing.
Primroses actually need to be cross pollinated and so if you have only one plant then unless there are other plants close by you are unlikely to have seedlings. Even two plants or more doesn't guarantee that your plants will produce offspring.

There are two types of primrose. Plants that have pin eyed flowers and those that have thrum eyed flowers.

The pin eyed flowers have a longer stigma (the female part of the flower) and this peeps up in the middle of the flower. In the thrum eyed flowers the stigma is hidden inside the flower and the stamen (the male parts form a ring near the top of the opening.

The flower is pollinated by an insect with a long tongue which will come along and probe the flower for a drink of nectar. Pollen from one type of flower will rub of on the insect at just the right level to be brushed onto the stigma of the other type of flower.

The clever trickery doesn't end there as the two types of flower produce different pollen. The thrum eyes flowers produce larger grains of pollen. The grain of pollen grows a sort of tube down from the stigma to the ovary at its base. You can see the ovary very clearly in the photo on the right. This has to happen to fertilise the seeds in the ovary. In the case of the pin eyed flowers, the grain of pollen has to grow a longer tube and work harder and so the grain of pollen supplied by the thrum eyed flower has to be bigger and have more vigour.

It was a bit of luck that of the four hybrid primroses bought last year, two are pin eyed - the blue and yellow plants - and two are thrum eyed - the red and white plants. 

I wonder what colours the flowers of the young plants will be?



36 comments:

  1. I,m so glad I,m not the only one who is delighted by those tiny perfect primrose babies...are n't they just the sweetest things : ) Now you must look out for Cowslips to propagate , the countryside needs more !

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    1. We do have one or two cowslips, Debs but so far no babies.

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    2. I'll have to check whether we have a mix of thrum and pin.

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  2. That was a fascinating post, I'd never looked closely enough to notice there were two types. I shall be out tomorrow inspecting eyes!

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    1. I hope you have both, Jessica

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  3. Pretty little primroses.
    I have a feeling that your young plants will be yellow.
    I bought all sorts of colours and I always got yellow flowers in the end. As for native primroses I never bother transplanting them, they just appear in my garden together with all the other spring flowers. Ah, the joy of living in the middle of the forest :D

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    1. I don't transplant most of ours Leanan unless they are in danger or I want to spread them elsewhere. I guess as with many hybrids the colour will revert to the dominant gene colour.

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  4. Interesting post Sue, I shall check the centres of mine tomorrow. I've got a selection of past mothers day primroses xx

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    1. Are they planted fairly close by one another, Jo?

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  5. I really love these beautiful flowers !!
    Happy weekend :)

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  6. I never knew that they needed to be cross pollinated, I will have a look at mine tomorrow. Thanks for this information. Have a wonderful weekend xx

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    1. It looks like everyone will be out primrose spotting this weekend. I hope you have a good one too.

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  7. They're so very pretty. I've been looking for some small flowers to brighten up my plot. Do they grow in most types of soil?

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    1. Ours are in heavy clay Grow Stuff. They prefer cool, semi shady, (althoiuh ours are in the open) damp conditions although ours dry up in summer. I don't think they like an alkaline soil.

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  8. They are one of my favorites. I have yellow and red ones. They reproduce like crazy. I do wish I had some blue ones. I can't wait until they open so I can see what type they are. Thanks for the interesting information.

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    1. It's always exiting waiting for new plants to flower, Bonnie. I guess for these babies it will be next year now,

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  9. I've never seen the native primrose--my, that IS a very pretty flower. I can see why you like it.

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    1. It is lovely Sue, Maybe they don't grow in your parts

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  10. My native Primroses had some babies last year, which I transplanted. Unfortunately several have been dug up by the blessed badgers, but I'll persevere because I would like a whole bed of them like yours!

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    1. You can split large clumps too. Mark. You can even eat the young leaves and the flowers - although we haven't tried them!

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  11. I just love primroses Sue, never thought these specialties.Thanks for information.
    Yours potted are pretty, love these colors.

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    1. The native ones remind me of Sunday walks with my grandad and his dog Nadezsa.

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    2. The native ones remind me of Sunday walks with my grandad and his dog Nadezsa.

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  12. That’s interesting Sue, I never knew this about primroses – I’ve got lots of primroses so I will go out and look today! I would love to have a row of Primula vulgaris like yours – great photo!

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    1. Apparently this is the case with most - if not all - flowers belonging to the primula family, Helene. including cowslips. I only have one cowslip ion the garden and one on the plot. Must get them mates.

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  13. I didn't know the primroses were so different Sue and I do love to learn stuff like this and then pass my knowledge on, primroses are one of the flowers I love and don't really have...I really need to invest in some this year!!

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    1. You'll not regret planting some, Tanya. What's not to like?

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  14. I know exactly how beautiful your primroses are because I have some here :-}

    The seed you sent me many years ago germinated fairly well - you are right, it has to be completely fresh, and I now have plants which have spread enough to be ready to be moved this year when they have finished flowering. So I know I have said it before but it needs to be said again - thank you!!

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    1. My pleasure to send them to a good home, Jayne.

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  15. Is this similar to evening primerose that to prepare supplement capsule? The flowers are so pretty!

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    1. No the two plants are unrelated Malar. The evening primrose is a much taller plant and doesn't belong to the primula family. I've been taking those capsules for years!

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  16. Beautiful! I have never seen this flower here.

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    1. Your climate would be likely to be too hot for them, Endaf

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  17. How fascinating Sue, I did enjoy this. It will be interesting to see what colour the new plants will be. Glad you rescued the plot primulas....the carpet there are just lovely.xxx

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    1. I'm glad that you found it interesting, Dina. I am curious to see what colour the flowers of the self sown seedlings will be too. I'm guessing probably yellow.

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