Often ignored because of their fussiness in the heat, spring-blooming primroses can thrive in the Midwest if you select the right cultivars and give them a little attention. As woodland natives, these perennials do well in Zones 4–8 planted in partial shade, mulched and watered regularly. Try our top picks.
If you have a pond or a stream, consider planting this Japanese primrose along the water; it requires more moisture than many primroses. Its ability to reseed means the banks will be bright with candelabra-shape rosy-red blooms.
It's like getting two plants in one: The double blossoms of 'Pink Ice' are pure white in early spring then deepen to pink. And flowers at the top of the mound of foliage are "like a miniature bouquet," says Susan Martin of Walters Gardens, a wholesale nursery in Michigan.
This Japanese woodland variety splashes pink, lilac-purple, crimson and white in a garden scene. "It goes dormant during summer, so that helps it tolerate heat and drier conditions," says Jacob Burns of the Chicago Botanic Garden. Bonus: It requires less maintenance and tolerates Midwest summers better than some of the others.
Also known as cowslip, the English wildflower's cup-shape, fragrant yellow blooms brighten woodland settings. "This one tends to produce large clumps that can be divided easily," says Jacob of the Chicago Botanic Garden. Sources: The American Primrose Society website lists seed and plant sources (americanprimrosesociety.org). Also: Bluestone Perennials (bluestoneperennials.com).