Most varieties of Auricula are easy to grow and are frost hardy.
They require well drained soil to prevent root rot, so an Alpine House or scree bed is ideal.
If growing for exhibition they will need protection from bright sunlight, saturated soil and rain.
Quite often exhibtion varieties are displayed in a Theatre which is a tiered shelved structure quite often with a black backdrop.
For added enhancement a picture frame is sometimes placed in front of the potted plant.
Stock can be increased by removing small plantlets (offsets) from mature plants.
New varieties with luck and perseverance can be produced from seed.
One to three year old plant seem to produce better flowers than older ones so it is sometimes advisable to discard older plants.
Ensure you have saved some offsetts if it favourite variety before doing so.
Circa Week 7:
Remove the top 12-25mm (½"-1") of compost from the pot and replace with new.
Encourage plants into growth if they have not already done so by watering the plants.
Detach offsets from parent plants whether you intend to grow them on or not, and generally tidy up each plant of any dead or diseased leaves.
If growing offsets, pot them up into pots of gritty compost.
A mix of 4 parts JI potting compost, one part sharp sand and one part horticultural grit makes for a good rooting medium.
Pot size will be determined by the size of the offsets, for example:
Small offsets can be placed around the rim of 100m (4")pots.
Medium to large can be potted up individually into 60mm (2½") pots.
Once rooted; pot offsets into 75mm (3") of the same compost mix described above.
Do not be tempted to use larger pots at this stage.
Sow commercial seed on the surface of the compost, covering the tray with a sheet of glass or by placing it in a plastic bag, and germinate the seeds at a temperature of around 18°C (65°F)
Trays should be kept in a shady position until germination.
Seeds can take around three weeks to germinate.
Circa Week 12:
Continue watering plants regularly but be careful not to over-water.
Apply a high potash liquid feed at alternate waterings.
Shade the plants from direct sunlight.
Even at this time of year the sun through glass can cause damage to the plants.
Prick out seedlings when large enough to handle into boxes or 70mm (3”) pots, place in a cold frame, and grow on until planting out time.
Circa Week 20:
After flowering collect seeds if required,otherwise deadhead the plants and leave them to die back natuarally.
* Primula seed are best sown when fresh and ripe, therefore collect seed as soon as possible after flowering and sow immediately on the surface of the compost.
Cover the tray with a sheet of glass or place it in a plastic bag, and germinate the seeds at a temperature of around 18°C (65°F)
When dormant repot plants in in new compost.
At this stage; check the root system for soil pests, pests such as the larvae of the red spider mite.
Place plants in a well ventilated cold frame that offers shelter from direct sunlight, even if this means applying some form of shading.
Regularly check to ensure that they do not dry out completely.
Circa Week 33:
Pot up rooted offsets.
Do not pot up off-sets into over-sized pots, err one pot down rather than up!
Spraying established plants with a systemic fungicide at this time can prevent fungal problems occuring later in the year as conditions grow cooler and damp.
Circa week 40 onwards:
Frosts become more likely however, but as these plants are quite hardy and apart from some outer leaves dying off the outdoor plants they should pull through.
Ease off with the watering at this stage, in fact they may not need water at all.
Pot plants under cover should be allowed to tick over, and again you should be careful with the watering.
Excess watering is more likely to cause losses rather than the cold.
Circa Week 12:
Ensure that any plants in flower are protected from rain by covering them with either inverted soft drink bottles or cloches.
Prepare the soil by forking in sand or grit to assist with drainage, and dig in plenty of humus.
An application a balanced granular fertilizer is advisable at this time.
Remove and pot up offsets if more stock is required.
Week 35: onwards:
Plant out 250mm. (10") apart in full sun or part shade.
If your area is prone to severe frosts in winter, it is recommended (but not essential) that you cover the plants with a cloche for added protection.
They can also be grown as pot plants in a greenhouse, alpine house, conservatory, or in patio containers.
Containers should be moved under cover for protection**, not necessarily frost free in winter.
**The protection is from rain and snow which can cause overwet conditions leading to fungal problems or worse!