Primulines – little fairies

Strange, exotic, delicate, unusual, magical – what epithets are not honored by primulines, once known as hirit. These plants are characterized by a unique symmetry of leaves, unprecedented flowering grace and an extremely humble disposition. In this culture, everything is unusual. And everything is fine. Primulines are plants for those who are looking for compact pets “not like everyone else’s”, those unique crops that will be called the pride of the room collection. Despite the status of a rare beauty, primulina is so easy to grow that it will not cause much trouble for beginners. And although its merits have not yet been fully appreciated, it is still one of the best plants of the “new wave”.

Примулина (Primulina fimbrisepala). Farmer Blog Profile

Unconventional beauty of a rare beauty

The beauty of primulines is just beginning to be discovered, and there is no talk of a plant that deserves this popularity. Until recently, Spirulina could only be found in the list of promising, but almost unknown and rare species. And even if she is only mentioned in the list of new trends and exotics, today many people call her the most unpretentious, magnificent and incomparable room crumb. And although the name “primulina” is not yet known to everyone, those who have already discovered at least one of these plants or seen it at exhibitions will forever remain in the ranks of loyal fans of these blooming fairies. There are hundreds of stories about how primulines fall in love at first sight and return home with a whole collection.

Primulines (Primulina) represent in room culture a group of rare southeastern exotics found in nature only in Asia. Even today, all new species of these beauties continue to be discovered in the mountainous areas of China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and India, although most of the primulines came to us from China and Thailand. They belong to the Gesneriev family.

Primulines were introduced into the culture only a little more than two decades ago, and the change in their classification a few years ago was perceived as a real revolution in botany. And it is not surprising: as a result of modern research, the monospecific genus Primulin has replenished with more than a hundred species, which were known to everyone as Chirita. The beloved name is used for primulins today, often calling them hirit primulins and even chirit. But whatever you call these amazing crumbs, they are still special plants and easily recognizable, even despite their great variety.

The surprisingly beautiful rosette of primulina leaves is often compared to the uzambara violets, but such a comparison is only appropriate in terms of size and general type of development. In fact, primulina does not look like violets at all, in many species and varieties the leaves are radically different (although there are primulines that can be mistaken for saintpaulias from afar). This is a plant with a unique symmetrical arrangement of leaves, which are almost always ideally arranged in pairs-opposite, each leaf has its own “opposite”. Thanks to this symmetry, the rosette looks amazingly elegant and solemn, and the plant itself is perceived as a small miracle.

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The rosettes in most plants are stemless, in some species the stem is formed, but it is shortened. Primulines constantly grow in breadth, in some varieties and types of rosettes can reach up to 40 cm in diameter. Some species release lateral plants, creating a kind of tiers. But you should not be afraid that primulina will become sloppy or deformed with age: even large plants retain their symmetrical beauty, and a fairly large selection of primulins allows you to choose a plant to your liking – from large rosettes to miniature dwarf-sized crumbs. Primulines reach a height of only 20 cm, and many plants are limited to much more modest parameters.

Primulina leaves rarely resemble Saintpaulia. Opposite, on short or medium petioles, they can be either slightly pubescent and glossy, or densely hairy, velvety. Linear, ovoid, spatula, rhombic, tongue or round shape varies with cultivar and species. In most primulines, the foliage is decorated with silvery or light streaks and stripes. It is believed that the beauty of the patterns on the leaves of primulin cannot be conveyed by photography: the light stripes and the pillow shine, look alive like silver spilled over the leaves. These effects are somewhat reminiscent of precious orchids.

Primusina driada «Hisako» (Primulina dryas 'Hisako')Primulina dryada «Hisako» (Primulina dryas ‘Hisako’). Farmer Al

The flowering of primulines in its grace will compete with orchids, although there is no question of the same complex forms and structure. The flowers of this plant are often compared with gentian, then with gloxinia. White or light pastel tubular flowers with a narrow tube, five-petal and asymmetrical pharynx, decorated with contrasting dark purple or purple stripes. Inflorescences on high peduncles, always towering above the leaves, racemose, loose, they bear from 3 to 7 flowers. Flowers in inflorescences are also arranged symmetrically and rarely, which only emphasizes the beauty of individual graceful “phonographs”.

The color palette of primulina is not limited only to basic, specific white-lilac tones. Thanks to active selection and breeding of varieties, as well as the constant replenishment of the list of species, possible color variations include pink, white, yellow, blue, blue and lilac shades. The base color is almost always delicate, light and pastel. But the veins are brighter and more contrasting.

And the most amazing thing is that with all this gracefulness of primulina, it can also boast of longevity, even with phalaenopsis. The plant blooms almost continuously, except for a fairly short dormant period. Species primulines usually bloom in summer, in winter they continue to bloom only under illumination. Varietals bloom almost all year round, with the exception of the winter dormant period.

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Primuline types

Natural types of primulins may not be as popular as varietal plants, but they are also found quite often and can boast of their high decorative effect.

Primulina tobacco (Primulina tabacum)Primulina tabacum. Farmer Tsveto4ek

  • Primrose tobacco (Primulina tabacum) Is the only plant species that originally consisted of the genus Primulin. Today, tobacco primulines like to be called true (all other plants migrated from among the hiritis). It is an endangered protected Chinese plant that stands out for its rounded leaves, the aroma of which resembles mint and tobacco at the same time. They create a stemless rosette, bright green, wide, almost round. The beautiful wavy-toothed edge is ideally symmetrical in relation to the central vein, and a well-pronounced network of veins appears on the surface. The plant produces long stalks bearing up to 7 tubular flowers with a narrow tube and corolla with a diameter of just over 1 cm, consisting of 5 rounded petals, decorated with stripes like rays.
  • Primulina Tamiana (Primulina Tamiana, before the plant was known under the name Khirit Tamiana (Chirita tamiana) – a semi-miniature species with leaves, most of all of all primulines resembling violet – fleshy, pubescent, oval-rounded. The rosettes are strictly symmetrical, compact, peduncles up to 20 cm high bear 5-7 white flowers with dark blue-violet stripes.
  • Primrose double (Twin Primulin) Is a thick-leaved variety in which neat, small, oval plates sit tightly and symmetrically in rosettes, forming almost tiled circles. The rich color of leaf plates and light green veins, their velvety surface, the ability to constantly release daughter rosettes and turn from one rosette into a multilevel plant are unique. Peduncles bear only 1-2 flowers of a snow-white color.
  • Chinese primulina (correct botanical name Primrose dryadPrimulina dryas, but still more popular today Primulina sinensis or the nickname – “silver primulina”) is a decorative leafy species with a symmetrical rosette, all attention in which is attracted by the beauty of the patterns on the leaves. Sitting opposite, they form a rosette up to 20 cm high. The leaves are oval, up to 10 cm long, with a jagged edge, bright or silvery color and a dense velvet edge, which emphasizes the beauty of the chaotic network of silver patterns. Flowers up to 4 cm long, lavender, collected in inflorescences on high reddish pedicels.
  • Linear-leaved primulina (Primulin linearifolia) Is a profusely flowering species with light pink or whitish-cream flowers, hard silver-pubescent, dark lanceolate leaves.
  • Longgang primulina (Primulina longgangensis) Is a unique species with very narrow, lanceolate, bright green leaves and pale lilac flowers with a yellow stripe at the top of the throat and dark veins below.
  • Small-spotted primulina (Primulina minutimaculata) Is a relatively new species, introduced only in 2008, with lingual, dark, glossy velvety leaves and unique short light veins that create a “twig” in the center of the leaf.
  • Primulin spadiciformis (Primulina spadiciformis) Is a compact species with a very bright color of wide glossy leaves and large, with a wide corolla, lilac flowers.
  • Primulina Sabromboidza (Primulin subrhomboidea) – a rare species with a bright blue-lilac color of the corolla of flowers with a white tube and beautiful glossy, lanceolate leaves.
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Primuline varieties

Breeding forms and varieties of primulin, most often of hybrid origin, are much more popular than species plants. A wide selection of color palettes, leaf shapes, sizes allows you to compose collections of equally beautiful, but so dissimilar Asian beauties. When buying, please note that most often the variety is indicated as a species name, and not as the usual variety names next to the plant name (for example, Primulin variety “Aiko” instead of the usual spelling in brackets, they simply call the primulina Aiko, and in the Latin name they replace the accepted spelling Primulina tamiana cv. Aiko to an abbreviated Primulina Aiko). In many respects, this is why it is not always easy to distinguish species primulines from varietal ones, since in catalogs the name of the variety is written as a specific one.

Primulina 'Aiko' (Primulina 'Aiko')Primulina ‘Aiko’ (Primulina ‘Aiko’). Farmer Al
Primulina 'Mineko' (Primulina 'Mineko')Primulina ‘Mineko’ (Primulina ‘Mineko’). Farmer Lacey
Primulina 'Destiny'Primulina ‘Destiny’. Farmer Caerulean Skies

The best varieties of primulin are:

  • “Atsuko” – primulina with emerald, satin leaves of a rounded shape with a serrated edge, creating a symmetrical, considered exemplary, rosette and with very beautiful large bluish-lilac bells with a white neck and yellow stripes;
  • “Aiko” – primulina with elongated oval velvet leaves in a compact rosette and high peduncles with very large, bright yellow flowers with a peach bloom and red spots at the neck;
  • “Junko” (Junko) – very similar to the previous variety, but smaller and with wider leaves;
  • “Kazu” (Kazu) – compact primulina with velvety lanceolate leaves and very large lavender flowers, with a prominent lower lip;
  • “Kitaguni” (Kitaguni) – a variety with creamy yellow flowers and silvery green, medium-sized leaves;
  • “Hisako” (Hisako) – variegated beauty with wide large-toothed leaves along the edge, decorated with almost precious silver veins, flowers – lavender with lemon throat;
  • “Mineko” (Mineko) – a variety with bright lilac bells with elongated, large corolla petals, white throat, orange-yellow spots and stripes and oval, almost smooth and bright leaves;
  • “Vertigo” (Vertigo) – a unique variety with dazzling blue flowers with a white throat, which has variegated, jagged leaves with a light green spreading herringbone in the central stripe, no less spectacular;
  • Destiny is a beautiful variegated variety with wide oval-lanceolate leaves with a serrated edge, decorated with silvery stripes in the center and light patterns across the entire surface, surprisingly brightly contrasting with an almost black border (burgundy pubescence is visible only up close);
  • “Sweet Dreams” – a variety with large glossy olive leaves and pale milky, very light flowers;
  • “Betty” (Betty) – a variety with glossy, completely covered with thin silver patterns, leaves with a dark border and a central vein and bluish flowers;
  • “Souvenir” (Souvenir) – compact primulina with narrow oval leaves, bright silvery-green stripe in the center and light lilac flowers;
  • “Marble Leaves” (Marble Leaf) – one of the favorite varieties, with oval-heart-shaped, decorated with a scalloped edge, a luminous silver stripe and along the central vein, leaves and delicate pink-lilac flowers with a yellowish throat;
  • “Jade Moon” (Jade Moon) – miniature primulina with almost succulent miniature rhombic leaves in a symmetrical rosette and large lavender flowers (even adult plants are limited to 15 cm in diameter);
  • “Moonlight” (Moonlight) – one of the most watercolor varieties with elongated oval bright leaves with a light marble pattern and tall peduncles with irregular flowers, the dark purple edge of the corolla in which turns into an almost white base, with a white throat and orange spots;
  • “Piccolo” (Piccolo) – one of the most popular compact varieties with beautiful dark leaves, a luminous olive-green stripe in the center and lilac flowers with orange spots in the light throat;
  • “Diane Marie” (Diane Marie) – variegated compact variety with oval, decorated with large teeth, dark emerald leaves with whitish-silver and marble patterns and large lilac flowers with dark purple and yellow stripes;
  • “Huba” (Huba) – a variety with large ovoid leaves with an oval edge, dark green color and a large silvery net, almost invisible in the center of the leaf and very bright closer to paradise;
  • “Lola” (Lola) – a beautiful variety with large-toothed diamond-shaped leaves with a steel sheen in an exemplary symmetrical rosette and dark lilac flower bells with bright orange and purple stripes;
  • “Nimbus” (Nimbus) – decorated with mother-of-pearl stripes, oval-leaved variety of compact size with delicate, like gramophone white-lilac flowers;
  • “Rachel” (Rachel) – a miniature variety with almost lanceolate medium-sized leaves, decorated with a whitish central stripe and lilac flowers with stripes and a spot of yellow and orange;
  • “Patina” (Patina) – compact primulina with oval-lingual leaves, on which a mother-of-pearl spot and the effect of a bronze patina stand out brightly – a pink edge (lavender flowers with orange stripes);
  • “Erika” – delicate lilac watercolor variety with venous patterns on the petals and elongated wrinkled leaves;
  • “New York” (New York) – a variety with very wide, drooping, decorated with a light streak of bright leaves and loose inflorescences of flowers of white-pink watercolor color, decorated with an outer crimson hump on the tube;
  • “Periwinkle” – a variety with glossy, pointed bright leaves and very large lavender flowers.
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Primulina Sabromboidza (Primulina subrhomboidea)Primulina Sabromboidza (Primulina subrhomboidea). Farmer Gabi_Munich

Home care for primrose

Primulines are one of the easiest to grow and most adaptable flowering indoor plants, easily forgiving all care mistakes. The more optimal the conditions and the better care of these beauties, the more beautiful they become. In fact, killing a primulina is much more difficult than succeeding in growing it. When consultants and sellers claim that primulina is grown in the same way as Saintpaulia, they are a little cunning: primulina is much less demanding, less dependent on lighting, and tolerant of cold temperatures. She even puts up with occasional watering. This is a touching, but surprisingly resistant plant that simply cannot but amaze with its talents and character.

Lighting for primulines

This plant is gentle and delicate, which is fully manifested in a very high sensitivity to direct sunlight. But otherwise, according to the requirements for lighting, spirulina is very plastic, it feels equally well both on bright areas and in partial shade.

One of the main advantages of the plant is the ability to grow completely on artificial supplementary lighting. When phyto lamps or fluorescent lamps work for 8-12 hours, primulines bloom as well as on the windowsill. Such opportunities open up completely new prospects for using primulines in decor, composing collections placed on separate shelves, etc.

Reducing winter light usually puts the plants in a short dormant period. If compensated, primulines bloom even in winter (but such measures are not necessary).

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Comfortable temperature

Primulina will be comfortable in any room in which you are comfortable. Throughout the year, ordinary room temperatures are quite suitable for her, moreover, the plant is not too afraid of jumps and drops, and is not sensitive to heat. The main thing is to prevent the air temperature from falling below 0 even for a short time and below 10 degrees Celsius for a long period. And the primulina will adapt to any other conditions. Optimal temperatures for primulina are considered to be 21-26 degrees in spring and summer and 15-20 degrees in winter.

Primulines are not afraid of drafts, but it is better to protect them from cold streams. Access to fresh air, frequent ventilation improves the appearance of the leaves.

Primulina TamianaPrimulina Tamiana. Farmer Lacey

Watering and air humidity

The most important task in primulina irrigation is to create stable conditions with uniform soil moisture. The plant does not like not only dampness, but also too abundant watering, short-term waterlogging. But you should not be afraid of drought: the plant perfectly tolerates even complete drying out of the soil, not like the absence of one planned watering. But nevertheless primulina blooms the more beautiful and longer, the more stable the humidity. To achieve almost continuous flowering, it is best to do regular, moderate watering during the period of active development, allowing the substrate to dry out in the upper layer. During the dormant period, watering is reduced and maintained only of slight importance.

The main difficulty when watering primulin is to avoid the slightest contact of the leaves and the base of the outlet with water. Many growers grow primulines on bottom irrigation or by submerging the pots in water to saturate the earthy coma. Primulina, like Saintpaulias, can be grown on drip irrigation.

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For watering primulina, you can use only warm water or at least water of the same temperature as the air in the room. Watering with cold water is destructive.

Air humidity for this plant is not the most important point. Primulina feels better in rooms with average indicators (at least 35%), but it will not die in dry air (perhaps only the tips of the leaves will dry out slightly). It is impossible to spray the plant even in glossy varieties, but other measures to increase air humidity and compensate for the operation of heating devices will only benefit. But there is no need to create tropical conditions for primulins.

Primulina (Primulina sclerophylla)Примулина (Primulina sclerophylla). Farmer Blog Profile

Top dressing for primulines

For this plant, you can use universal complex fertilizers. They are introduced at a standard frequency – 1 time in 2 weeks, but it is better to halve the recommended doses. The period of dressing should be equal to the period of active growing season; at the resting stage, watering is not carried out.

Long-acting fertilizers can be used for this plant.


Withering parts of the plant – leaves, peduncles, individual flowers – must be removed as quickly as possible. Unlike violets, primulina flowers do not have to be broken off, they can be cut off.

Transplant and substrate

For primulina it is very important to choose the right substrate. The easiest option is to choose a ready-made type of soil mixture designed for Saintpaulias. But any loose, lightweight, porous soil is suitable for primulin, most of which is peat and loosening additives (vermiculite and sphagnum are welcome). If you are making the mixture yourself, then prepare it on the basis of a double portion of peat and leafy, turfy soil and sand, taken in equal parts.

Choosing a container for primulins is not such a difficult task. These plants, with too large a pot, actively grow leaves, but do not bloom, and the risk of waterlogging is greater. The golden rule for selecting containers for primulina is: choose a pot with a diameter exactly 3 times smaller than the diameter of the rosette of leaves. This is a win-win. Even the largest primulines are planted in small containers. This allows dozens of plants to be placed on one windowsill. The height and diameter of the containers must be equal (or overweight in favor of width).

Plants are transplanted annually at a young age, but adult specimens – only as the pots are filled and the soil is depleted. Primulins are carefully rolled over, removing the lower free layer of the substrate and trying not to come into contact with the roots. The level of deepening of the root collar is left unchanged. If the lower part of the stem is exposed due to the dying off of the lower leaves, and the primulina rises “on the stem”, then you can add the substrate so that the plant is immersed along the lower leaves. Drainage must be laid at the bottom. It is advisable to add any loosening additives available to the soil.

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Primulina spadiciformis (Primulina spadiciformis)Primulina spadiciformis (Primulina spadiciformis). Farmer Nadiatalent
Longgang primulina (Primulina longgangensis)Longgang primulina (Primulina longgangensis). Farmer Christopher
Primulina linearifoliaPrimulina linearifolia (Primulina linearifolia). Farmer KENPEI

Diseases and pests primulin

The greatest danger to primulins is provided by all types of rot, which quickly spread along the root collar and cuttings of leaves with excessive watering or getting wet. You can fight them only by cutting out damaged tissues (with processing with charcoal), transferring to dry conditions, emergency transplanting with compacted and moldy soil. Fungicide treatments usually do not help. If a plant rots at the base of the outlet, it is difficult to save it.

Pests on primulines are very rare.

Common growing problems:

  • light or dry spots when watered with cold water;
  • yellowing of the lower leaves in adult plants due to the natural renewal of rosettes, in young ones – when there is a need for transplantation;
  • rolling leaves in the heat or in a sunny location in direct sunlight;
  • growing greenery with poor flowering – improper feeding or too large a pot.

Reproduction of primulina

This is a fairly easy plant to propagate, which can be obtained from seeds, and simply by rooting leafy cuttings like the uzambara violet. You can root leaves with a petiole even in water, and, if desired, in sand, a peat-sand mixture or a substrate under a hood or film. The release of a large number of children can be expected within a month and a half after planting, they are separated and deposited as they grow up. Parts of a leaf cut along the lateral veins can also be rooted.

Many primulin species, especially in adulthood, release daughter plants at the base of the mother’s rosette. And they can be separated, rooted and grown as independent plants.

Primulina seeds are sown in late winter or early spring, in a regular substrate or a mixture of soil and sand in equal amounts. Seeds are scattered over the leveled substrate and not covered with soil. After sowing, containers under glass or film are kept in the brightest place and at a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius or more. Germination in heat occurs after 2 weeks (the lower the temperature, the slower the process). Young primulines are kept in supplementary lighting with a day length of at least 12 hours. Watering is carried out drip, without affecting the plant itself. Primulines dive as the first true leaf appears. Plants need to be handled very carefully, they break off easily.

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Anna Evans

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