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Flower of the Month: Ranunculus

Flower of the Month Ranunculus

Spring is my favourite season. I love watching nature awaken from a deep slumber, like a bear out of hibernation.

For me, spring feels like a rebirth. Northern gardeners like myself have had to sit and wait, patiently, and daydream about a garden covered in snow. A garden that was once flourishing, but is now only an outline.

Flower of the Month

Flower of the Month

When winter turns to spring, and the days become longer, I begin to feel renewed and energized. I can feel a difference in the air, as cold wind becomes warm and the ground softens under my feet.

I feel excited and motivated to get back in the garden and start planting. If you’ve started your seedlings and they are ready for transplanting into larger containers, please see my post “15 Steps to Successfully Transplant your Seedlings“.

The swelling buds on trees, the green of newly emerging spring flowers, the fresh smell in the air, it truly is an exciting and hopeful time of year.

In honour of spring, I would like to talk about my favourite spring flower!

Flower of the month Ranunculus

Flower of the month Ranunculus

Ranunculus asiaticus or ‘Persian Buttercup’, stands out amongst traditional spring flowers. Upon first glance, it resembles a rose or a peony. It has parchment paper thin petals, a delicate fragrance, ferny foliage and a long stem. It comes in a range of colours from white, yellow and pink, to orange, red and even purple.

Planting Tips:

Originating in Southern Europe and Southwestern Asia, Ranunculus is considered a tender perennial. Hardy in zones 8-10, it grows as an annual in any zone colder than a zone 8. (To know when it’s safe to plant out your flowers, herbs and vegetables, please refer to my Outdoor Planting Calculator.)

However, in the southern and western gardens of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana, Ranunculus corms planted in the fall, will grow perennially.

In the north, it is best to plant corms in early spring, no more than 2 weeks prior to the last frost. If you’d like to see your flowers bloom earlier, consider potting them up in February, then transplanting them outdoors after hardening off in mid-to-late May.

How to Plant Ranunculus in a Pot

Here are the steps:

  1. Upon removing Ranunculus corms from their packaging, you will see that they resemble a dried octopus. The “legs” are the bottom and the flat “basal plate” is the top. When planting your corms, be sure to do so with the legs facing down and the basal plate facing up.
  2. Soak your corms in warm, for at least 6 hours prior to planting them. This process will soften them and cause them to swell. (This is what you want and will help to speed germination.)
  3. After soaking, plant the corms (with the legs facing down) at least 1 -2 inches (2.5-5 cm) deep and 10 inches (25 cm) apart. If your using a 6 inch pot, only plant 1 corm.
  4. For a continuous bloom, Ranunculus does best in temperatures between 1.5-10C (35-50F) at night and 15-24C (60-75F) in the day. They will die back after the temperatures are consistently hot.

I keep my potted Ranunculus by my kitchen window, which is where I get to baby it. Since this is my favourite flower, I try to place it where I will see it regularly, water it when needed and enjoy its delicate fragrance.

If the temperature feels a bit warm inside, I slightly open the window to give it the cool air it needs. If the temperature is 10C (50F) or higher, I bring my pot outside for the afternoon. I find this helps to perk up the plant, which will also extend its bloom time.

How to Plant your Ranunculus Corms Outdoors

Here are the steps:

  1. Wait until temperatures are above 0 degrees Celsius (32F). Ranunculus will not survive in a deep freeze.
  2. Ranunculus does best in full sun and well-drained soil.
  3. Plant corms 4-inches (10 cm) apart and 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) deep (depending on corm size). Make sure that the roots (“legs”) are pointing downwards.
  4. Plants will typically flower 90 days after planting them and stems may grow to 18 inches (46cm). Blooms may last for up to 6 weeks.

Ranunculus is hard to find in my zone 5a nurseries and garden centres. When I do find one, I never miss an opportunity to buy one and take it home with me.

Have you grown Ranunculus in the past? If you haven’t, I highly recommend you add it to your gardening wish list. If you have, please share your tips in the comments section below.

Happy Gardening!

If you’re interested in planting your own Ranunculus, check out these beautiful varieties.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic.

  • Judy Malin Onorato

    Thank you!
    I was wondering if we can grow them here in Ontario….how, when and where.
    I love Ranuculus! I’ve been seeing bouquets of ranuculus and roses in Garden Foods in Bolton. OMG all the colour combinations – Stunning!
    Thanks! I’m definitely trying them in my garden this year

    • I’m so happy to hear that Judy! They are so beautiful! The season for Ranunculus is here and gone so quickly.