If you are looking for a flowering plant for the house that can be transplanted outside later, look at the primrose. The primrose is a perennial flowering plant that is among a handful of flowers that bloom early in spring gardens outside. Its Latin name, Primula vulgaris, means "early." Because it flowers early naturally, the primrose can be forced to bloom even earlier in the greenhouse for enjoyment in your home at this time of year.

The foliage is a ground-hugging rosette of shinny green leaves that are medium to dark green in color. The leaves are 4 to 6 inches long and only about an inch wide. They have a rough look to them, as they seem wrinkled or puckered, with small teeth on the edges of the leaf — and a bit hairy. Once you see the rosette growth habit, you will always be able to distinguish this plant from all the rest of the perennials in your garden.

As soon as the frost is out of the ground, the leaves begin to emerge, and before you know it, the flowers pop out of the center of the foliage. The plant will grow 4 to 6 inches tall and spread to about 8 to 10 inches wide. Growth will start in most gardens during March if the snow has melted and the weather has begun to warm up. The flowers come on short stems, 3 to 4 inches tall, and hold clusters of flowers. Each flower has five petals, and the bloom resembles a shallow trumpet. The flower colors are bright, in shades of yellow, red, blue, purple and white. All the flowers have a bright yellow center, like a "bull's eye." The flowers will last from March to May in the garden outdoors and for four to six weeks indoors, if you can keep them cool. The best temperature indoors is 50 to 60 degrees; keep them out of south-facing windows where they get sun all day.

The primrose will grow best in soil that is well-drained and rich in organic matter like compost and peat moss. Grow them in your garden as a border plant up front and in groups of three to five for the best show of color. Primroses also will grow well in shaded gardens, rock gardens and wall plantings. If you have a woodland or shaded wildflower garden, this plant is a must. Remember, the primrose flowers early; if you are looking for early color to motivate you to get you out in the garden, this is the plant with all the excitement!

As a houseplant, the primrose makes a great potted plant, all by itself. You can mix it with other flowering or foliage plants. I pick the faded flowers from the stems; when the stem has no more buds, I remove the entire stem right above the foliage at the base of the plant. This prevents the plant from making seeds, and the energy stays in the plant, so you can transplant it into the garden in mid- to late April.

No fertilizer is needed in the house, but once you plant in the garden, use compost and a product like, Bio-Tone or Garden-tone, as they contain microbes and mycorrhizae for a quick start to the root system. The new garden technology in fertilizer will astound you because it is a reproduction of what lives in your soil already — and plants love it. Treated with this technology, plants grow better, faster, healthier, bloom more and need less care. Enjoy indoors now and plant outside for years of enjoyment in your garden outside.