Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

Plant of the Month, August 2011
Primula deflexa - by Joan McCaughey
It was by pure chance that I came across Primula deflexa, seeds being sent by Votjech Holubec as extras to my original requests from his 2009 seed list. It was described as a small caespitose plant 8-15 cm high, small hairy rosettes, short dense spikes, bright rose nodding flowers, collected from alpine meadows at 4600 metres in the Hong Shan mountains, Yunnan, China.
I sowed the seed on 18th January 2010 in my usual seed compost, left it outside, and was pleased to find it germinated easily, giving me at least 15 plants. It did not flower that year but survived outside in pots through 2010-11, perhaps protected by the snow, and flowered May-June in 2011. The plants are small but very dainty with deep blue-purple flowers and to date I have 10 plants, having given some away.
What has given me even greater pleasure was to see it growing wild in Northwest Yunnan this June on a Greentours trip, in the same general area from which Vojtech’s seed came. We found many plants of it growing by the roadside on our way back from Tianchi Hai, slightly larger than my home grown form, and also one poorer specimen in woodland in the Yading Nature Reserve.

Primula deflexa in Yunnan, 3500m

Primula deflexa from VH seed

Having now experienced travel through this magnificent mountainous region, I have great respect for the plant hunters of the past and present, and appreciate how fortunate we are to be able to get seed and grow so many of these beautiful plants.