The auricle is a type of plant with the Latin name Primula auricula, which belongs to the genus of primroses. This plant occurs in the mountain regions. Their area extends over the western part of the Northern Limestone Alps including the Jura. It occurs in the Black Forest and has some relict locations in the Bavarian Alpine foothills. Outside of Germany, its area extends from the Pyrenees through Switzerland to Vorarlberg and Tyrol in Austria. Auriculas grow wild in southwestern Poland and Slovakia.
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Auriculas occur on calcareous soils and rubble. They occur in rock crevices and conquer altitudes of up to 2,900 meters. Wild forms from the mountainous regions of Switzerland, Austria and Bavaria were already cultivated in Nuremberg in the late 15th century. The plants cultivated today as auricula come from a natural cross between two wild-growing primrose species. Primula auricula and Primula hirsuta formed the hybrid auricula, Primula × pubescens. From this form a wide range of cultivated forms arose, which are collectively offered under the name garden auricle.
The primrose species grow as evergreen plants that keep their leaves in winter. They are persistent and herbaceous. Auricles reach heights of growth between five and 25 centimeters. This makes the wild auricle the largest primrose in the Alpine region. Your plant parts are covered with a delicate floury dust.
Auriculas have golden inflorescences made up of four to twelve flowers. The individual flowers give off a more or less intense fragrance. They are hermaphroditic and develop diameters between 15 and 25 millimeters. Their fivefold structure leads to a radial symmetry.
The flowers have a double flower envelope, each consisting of five sepals and five petals. The sepals are fused together and form a bell. Five petals are fused at their base, so that a corolla tube is created. It ends in five corolla lobes spread apart. The chalice is about half as long as the corolla tube.
The wild-growing Primula auricula develops pale yellow petals, while Primula hirsuta bears bright pink to purple flowers. The color palette of the cultivated forms is far more extensive. It ranges from white to yellow and pink to various shades of red and purple. They bloom between April and July.
The fruits of the wild forms ripen between September and October. In cultivated plants, the time of fruit ripening is variable. Auriculas develop spherical capsule fruits, they open in the final stage of ripeness and the seeds scatter. The capsules contain numerous elongated seeds with a brown-black surface. They are light germs that need a cold stimulus to germinate. The seeds are spread by wind and rain.
Auricles develop a basal rosette with simply structured leaves. They develop a length between two and 12 centimeters. The leaf blades are narrow and obovate to lanceolate. The leaf margin is whole or notched and partially provided with a cartilage margin.
The leaves serve to store water, making them appear coarse and fleshy. The surface of the leaves is gray-green in color and is covered by a glossy layer of wax that acts as a protection against evaporation. There are numerous short glandular hairs on the leaf blade, which, like the wax layer, counteract excessive loss of fluid.
The primrose varieties are associated with the typical cottage garden. Here the herbaceous plants grow on the edges of the beds, where they can spread unhindered. Auriculas form magnificent carpets in a suitable location. As heralds of spring, they bring the rock garden back to life after winter. Together with other plants from the mountain regions, the auricle conjures up a wild and romantic mountain backdrop in the alpine garden.
These old garden treasures fit the alpine garden:
- Alpine gentian (Gentiana alpina) with its intense blue flowers
- Scented violets (Viola odorata) with bright purple flowers
- Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) as white flowers
- Vineyard tulips (Tuipa sylvestris) with nodding flower bells
The beauties are often put on display in so-called auricle theaters. This performance is based on a historical model. Wooden étagères or racks served as showcases, the walls of which are painted black. They were furnished with mirrors and decorated with curtains. Today, the old Aurikel varieties are traditionally offered in clay pots, provided with an official-looking real wood label.
All parts of the auricula are poisonous. The main active ingredient is saponins, which are highly concentrated in the roots. The plants also contain various oils and traces of esters. Make sure that children and pets do not accidentally eat the flowers and leaves.
Skin contact can lead to dermatitis. An allergen is responsible for the allergic reactions. Repeated touches reduce the sensitivity of the skin. The reactions are weaker. If you are unsure, you should wear gloves as a precaution.
The breathtaking alpine plants prefer a bright location in a protected location. The leaves do not like direct midday sun. Pay attention to a partially shaded location. The plants are adapted to dry habitats.
The substrate should have a high level of permeability, as the tender roots cannot tolerate waterlogging. Mix sand or grit (€ 12.80 on Amazon *) under the soil to improve its structure. Auriculas feel good on neutral to slightly calcareous soil. Place the alpine plants on gravel or calcareous rock to ensure optimal conditions for them.
Auriculas can be planted between spring and autumn. If you put the plants outdoors between September and October, they can already develop their full bloom in the following spring. The alpine plants do not have high space requirements. There is space for up to 25 copies on one square meter.
You can multiply garden auricles by division by completely digging up the root ball and freeing the roots from the soil. The roots are divided at the visible dividing areas. Use a sharp and disinfected knife to get a clean cut. Let the cut surfaces dry briefly and plant the pieces in a prepared planting hole.
The ideal time for reproduction is between September and October. It is recommended when the auricle has developed dense populations. This method allows you to rejuvenate the plant and further cultivate the characteristics of the parent species.
The alpine plants can be propagated generatively using seeds. You need to be patient with this method. The offspring may develop different flower colors. They combine the genes of two parent plants.
You can sow the collected seeds in the same year after flowering. Cover the seeds with a very thin layer of soil to protect them from drying out. After a cold stimulus, the seeds begin to germinate quickly. A cold exposure at night is enough to encourage the seeds to grow. With this method, there is a risk that the plants will not develop quickly enough by winter. You then need frost protection.
As an alternative to sowing in autumn, you can prefer the seeds in January. Use a potting soil mixed with sand, perlite or gravel as a substrate. Lightly moisten the soil and sprinkle the seeds evenly on the substrate. Place the planter in a bright place with temperatures between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius and check the moisture of the substrate daily.
In the pot
Auriculas are perfect for planting in pots because they don't take up much space. Choose a pot that is twelve inches in diameter. It ensures you have better control of the water supply. You can also easily move the small pot.
The bucket should be at least 20 centimeters deep so that the tap roots can spread optimally. It should have a drainage hole so that water drainage is ensured. Do not place the pot on a saucer, as the water should not back up. To prevent waterlogging, you can install a drainage at the bottom of the bucket.
The substrate should not dry out completely during the growth phase. The plant can cope with short dry spells. Prolonged drought or waterlogging cause them problems. If necessary, water the plant sparingly with rainwater. They tolerate irrigation water with a higher lime content.
How to properly pour auricula:
- Provide small amounts of water more frequently during the summer
- Drain excess water
- Let it dry out before winter
- stop watering in winter
The primrose species do not have to be fertilized as they draw their nutrients from the substrate. Avoid adding compost to avoid overfertilization. You can give some orchid fertilizer in low concentration right after flowering. This stimulates growth.
If you are growing your auricula in a pot, you should repot the plant every two to three years. It is not necessary to use a larger bucket. You can continue to use the old planter as the roots will not spread any further. The change of earth is more important in this measure. This prevents diseases and gives the plant fresh nutrients. The ideal time to repot is early autumn. At this time, you can combine repotting with propagation by division.
Auriculas are extremely resistant, which can be attributed to their original origin. This makes them hardy plants that do not require winter protection when grown outdoors. Container plants also prove to be unproblematic in winter. If the substrate has dried up before winter sets in, the ball of the earth can freeze over. The auricle does no harm. Put the tub under a roof in October so that the plant is protected from rain.
Wintering in the house is possible. The auricle likes very cold winter quarters. It doesn't necessarily have to be a frost-free room. If the plant sprouts in winter, you should water it occasionally and place the tub in a bright place.
The most common pest on primroses is the black weevil. But the auricle is not safe from snail damage either.
The larval stage lives in the soil and damages the roots of the auricles. When your plant is infected, the vitality suddenly decreases. Dig up the plant and remove any remaining substrate from the roots. The creamy white larvae grow to be about one centimeter long and can be seen with the naked eye. To prevent the pests from spreading, you should kill the larvae.
Adult animals occur more frequently in autumn. The beetles can be recognized by their proboscis, which they use to eat irregularly shaped bays in the leaf margins. The pests are nocturnal and fall to the ground in case of danger. Place pots filled with fresh grass under the plant. Check the traps daily and collect out the beetles trapped in them. You can prevent weevils from laying eggs by spreading small stones on the ground.
In spring, snails are one of the most feared pests that cause enormous damage to freshly sprouting plants. Adult specimens regenerate quickly from the damage. Since they look unattractive after they have been eaten by snails, the pests should be prevented from spreading with sharp-edged stones or wood ash.
Auriculas planted in late summer can be attacked by root lice. They weaken the plants and transmit viruses. Accompanying weeds serve as host plants for the pests. Therefore, keep your herds free of weeds.
In the field, green and black aphids can occasionally appear, which settle on the leaves and suck out plant sap. As a countermeasure, we recommend spraying the plant with soapy water or a brew made from nettle leaves.
Does not bloom
Auricles are sensitive to an excessive supply of nutrients. Too much fertilizer can cause plants to rot. Hibernation also has an impact on flower formation. The alpine plants need a cold wintering. If they are too warm during the winter months, they will bloom poorly or not at all in the coming spring.
Many varieties develop a white coating on their flowers that is reminiscent of flour dust. It is formed by the wax hairs and serves as protection against evaporation. If rain falls on the flowers during flowering, water spots may appear. This does not harm the plant, but the flowers look unsightly for a short time. Protect these sensitive varieties from the rain. A garden glass hood or an inverted lantern is suitable for this.
- Candida : gray-white floured petals, basic color black. Height of growth 15 centimeters.
- Emmett Smith : golden yellow flower center, dark border. Petals tinged red, orange to brown. Height of growth 15 centimeters.
- Ellen Thomsen : White to cream-colored center, with a dark border. Petals red-violet, blue to red in color. Height ten centimeters.
- Doyen : Double flower. Petals colored red-violet. Height of growth 15 centimeters.