If flowering bulbs are one of nature’s mysteries, watching the claw-like tuber of a ranunculus produce three dozen rosette-shaped flowers must be one of nature’s miracles. For sheer petal count, it’s hard to top the ranunculus. If you’ve seen them in flower arrangements, you’ve probably been tempted to flick your thumb across the flower’s surface as one would rifle through a voluminous book. However, this would bruise the tissue paper-thin petals of these delicate beauties.
Ranunculus flowers are popular as wedding flowers, as they are inexpensive, showy, and long lasting as cut flowers. Learn how to cultivate these Mediterranean natives in your landscape or container garden for beautiful flower arrangements.
Species: Ranunculus asiaticus
You can grow ranunculus outdoors in zones 8 to 11 as fall planted bulbs. Gardeners in temperate climates can grow ranunculus as container specimens. Those living in areas with cool summers can plant bulbs outdoors in the spring for late summer blooms.
Plants from jumbo bulbs grow up to one foot across, producing two to three dozen flowers on 18-inch stems.
Full sun in outdoor locations; and a south-facing sunny window for indoor container plantings.
The blooming time of ranunculus flowers varies depending on when the tubers are planted. Fall plantings of ranunculus come into bloom in March, while spring plantings flower in late summer.
- Choose tubers labeled jumbo for the most flower stems per bulb. Number two and number three bulbs are fine for planting groups of a dozen or more outdoors.
- In spite of the tubers’ wizened appearance, you don’t need to soak them in water prior to planting.
- If you have heavy soil, amend with peat moss or plant in raised beds.
- An application of bone meal at planting time is fine, but not necessary for ranunculus tubers treated as annuals.
- Plant the tubers with the claw end pointing down, and cover them with an inch of soil. Both roots and plants emerge from the top of the clump, not from the tips of the claws.
- Water the bulbs well upon planting, and then withhold water until growth appears to avoid rot.
- Growing ranunculus flowers from bulbs in a container works best for those who can maintain a cool winter greenhouse. This provides the combination of bright sun and temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees F that make ranunculus thrive.
- Café: Bronze blooms
- Flamenco: A picotee yellow flecked with red
- Merlot: Ivory flowers feathered with rose edges