Auriculas like to be cold and airy, love to be frozen in their pots, and to have good drainage. They should never be allowed to become waterlogged. Originally a mountain plant, a cold green house with the windows open, or a cold frame, open on fine days, is ideal for pot grown plants.
Auriculas in the ‘Show’ category are best grown in pots with some protection from the worst of the winter and spring weather – rain will spoil the appearance of the flowers. A cool spot out of the greenhouse or frame for the summer for all auriculas is a good idea.
Please leave the plants in their black pots until the leaves reach the sides. If growing in pots it is better to keep to a small one and wait until the plant gets to a decent size before potting on to a pot no bigger than 3.5″. They should not be ‘over-potted’. Suggested compost mix is 1:1:1 John Innes Number Two, Compost and Potting Grit. (You can always drop a small pot inside a larger pot for display).
The plants need little water during the winter – just a tiny spoonful or so each week to keep them ticking over. From about February, when they start to put on growth, they will need more. Always water the compost, not the leaves.
By the end of February, if they are still in the same pot, they may have used up all the food in that compost (particularly the doubles), so a weak (no more than half–strength) multi-purpose feed like Phostrogen will ensure they have something to eat. Feed once a month in the growing season.
Good light is important for them in the autumn and winter, but by the time they have flowered – or even before if we have a hot spring – they will need to be shaded. A greenhouse is generally too hot for them in the summer, even with shading.
Probably the worst pest – and auriculas don’t suffer too much this way – is the wretched vine weevil. The only effective way we have found to banish this is to water the compost with insecticide three times a year.
For more online advice take a look at the cultivation pages of the website of the National Auricula and Primula Society (Southern) at www.southernauriculaprimula.org.