6 Fascinating Primrose Flower Facts

Updated: Mar. 23, 2023

From medicinal uses to pop culture references, discover the intriguing history, meaning (and care tips) for the early blooming primrose flower.

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Primrose Flowers Have Played a Part in Pop Culture

Shutterstock 1391302829Shutterstock / Wundermann
Evening primroses are a sunny addition to wildflower gardens.

These bright delights have cemented a place in literature and popular culture; Shakespeare included the primrose flower as a symbol in many of his plays. More recently, in Suzanne Collins’ 2008 young adult novel The Hunger Games, main character Katniss’ sister is named after the evening primrose.

Want more nature trivia? Check out these fun facts about birds in pop culture.

Multiple Types of Primrose Flowers

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Pink evening primrose

There are two types of unrelated flowers that are called primroses. One simply goes by the name primrose (Primula spp.) and the other is called evening primrose (Oenothera spp.).

Did you know that primroses are one of the birth flowers for February?

Primrose Flowers Come in Many Colors

primrose mothShutterstock / Amanda Guercio
Evening primrose flowers attract moths.

More than 400 species of primroses exist, appearing in many colors including red, pink, purple and gold. They’re a hardy flower, thriving in mountain ranges, marshes and other varied habitats.

Backyard Tip: Evening primrose reseeds and may spread aggressively in your garden. Consult your local extension agent before planting if you have concerns about it becoming invasive in your area.

Psst—planting a moon garden improves your chances of spotting a sphinx moth.

Does a Primrose Have Meaning?

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Amethyst Ice primrose

Primrose means “first rose,” and it’s certainly accurate. Primroses are one of the first flowers to appear in many different environments, blooming in Zones 3 to 8 in early spring. If you’re looking for more early blooming spring flowers, check out our list.

English primrose plants are considered some of the best old-fashioned flowers to grow.

Primroses Have a Long Medicinal History

While Europeans grew evening primroses in the 17th century, the plant’s history starts long before then. Native Americans used the plant to heal wounds, serve as a sedative and even treat hemorrhoids.

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Primrose Flower Care

Primroses provide blooms for up to 10 weeks if deadheaded. They do well in cool temps with a fair amount of moisture. Place in a spot with afternoon shade to keep them looking their best.

Next, learn how to grow Lenten rose plants.