A Quick Q&A History of Auriculas

by Duane Buell

                   Striped Auricula


How long have auriculas been in cultivation?
Possibly 500 years or more.

How hardy are auriculas?
Auriculas are exceptionally cold tolerant. Their weakness is that they do not tolerate heat or excessive moisture well. In most areas they are considered to be a shade or partial shade plant.

Can auriculas be grown in the open garden?
This answer is a qualified yes. If you have an area of your yard where fuchsias and begonias will grow without being sun burnt, it is probably worthwhile to try some auriculas, but be sure to read further.


What are the soil requirements for auriculas?
Auriculas thrive in a moist, well drained soil. They do not tolerate acidity and want neutral to slightly alkaline soil. Growers generally add grit in the form of coarse sand and/or fine gravel to their potting or garden soil.







                  Alpine Auricula

Why are so many references made to growing auriculas in a greenhouse, under glass or in a trough if they do well outdoors?
There are a lot of types and sizes of auriculas. Plants that are grown for show must be protected from the weather at all costs. Many of the plants have a coating of farina (a white or yellowish meal) that is important to their show worthiness. If this farina is touched by rain, it can destroy the appearance of a flower or plant. It is also a sad fact that many of the show auriculas have virtually had the hardiness bred out of them so they require considerable extra attention. A trough for many gardeners is an excellent way to provide a unique environment for plants that may not otherwise fit into one’s garden. With a trough it is a simple matter to offer plants a different soil mix, different drainage, different moisture and even different shade than immediately surrounding plants.

What is meant by a “thrum” or a “pin” in reference to the auricula?
These terms are referring to the anther and the pistil of the flower. The thrum is a plant where the anthers are prominently visible and the pistil is recessed as one looks directly at the flower. A pin is a plant where the pistil is prominently visible and the anthers are recessed. The terms are particularly relevant to those who are growing or breeding plants for show as pins are not allowed on the bench for judging. Frankly, the flowers can be equally pretty, and in the garden, it doesn’t matter whether one is looking at a thrum or a pin.

Where do I start?
It is safe to say that most folks are first taken by auriculas after seeing pictures of some of the show plants. It is probably best for beginners to look for plants labeled as “garden” or “border” auriculas. These can be show quality plants also, but they tend to be hardier and easier to care for.

Where do I find auricula plants?
Auriculas can occasionally be found in larger garden centers, but it is most likely that they will be found at specialist nurseries and garden sales if they are grown in your area. If you have the pioneer spirit, there are sources for plants and seeds listed on the links page. Also, the American Primrose Society makes seeds available to members through a seed exchange program. It generally is not necessary to be a seed donor to take advantage of the exchange programs.

Will auriculas come true from seeds?
Seeds from nearly all auriculas will be hybrids and can come up as virtually any color combination. A seedling from a named variety cannot be called by the name of either of the parent plants, no matter how closely it may resemble the parent.

Where can I find more information?
Join our Members’ Forum. Most questions are answered very quickly by folks that are actually involved in growing auriculas.