Ranunculus: A Beautiful Chance For Every Garden

by Polly

Ranunculus: a beautiful chance for every garden. With its bright beauty, the small camellia-like flowers range from white to pink, red to yellow to orange and are indeed special.They most often come in multiple layers of delicate, crepe paper–thin petals, looking like an origami masterwork.

One of the most brilliant of the spring-blooming bulbs, ranunculus have 3- to 6-inch flowers in almost every color imaginable, even bi-colors. The frilly blooms grow on 12- to 18-inch stems; doubled types resemble miniature peonies.

Incredible colors, straight stems, long vase life and copious blooms are yours. In return, these lacy-leafed plants will ask for sunshine, moderate temperatures and very light watering. Your borders and beds will look great, your office desk will sport fresh flowers for pennies and your neighbor will be by asking for your gardening secret.

One of the most rewarding spring  flower bulbs to grow, Ranunculus are renown for their bountiful display  of flowers. Beyond their intrinsic beauty, ranunculus flowers have another virtue: they are good cut flowers. And, they can last indoors about 7 days after cutting. Plus, at about a penny-and-a-half per flower, they are very inexpensive.

Ranunculus leaves, grass green and vaguely celery-like, grow in a mound 6 to 12 inches across. Flowers on 12- to 18-inch stems emerge in March from fall-planted bulbs, June and July from spring-planted bulbs; they last up to six weeks.

They perform best where winters are relatively mild and springs are long and cool. The roots tolerate soil temperatures to 10°F, while growing plants can handle temperatures below 20°F for several hours.

Ranunculus are most popular in the mild-winter regions of the South and West, in states such as California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana (USDA Hardiness Zones 8 through 11), where they grow best. Planted there in October or November, they flower in March.

The claw-like bulbs, more correctly tubers, come in four grades or sizes. The largest, called jumbos, are the ones you should rely upon; they are at least 7 to 8 centimeters (2-3/4 to 3-1/8 inches) in circumference, or about 7/8 inch in diameter.

Number one tubers are slightly smaller, 6 to 7 centimeters (2-1/4 to 2-3/4 inches); number twos are 5 to 6 centimeters (2 to 2-1/4 inches); and number threes, which are rare at retail, are 3 to 4 centimeters (1-1/8 to 2-1/4 inches).

Bulb size predicts the number of flowers. Each jumbo bulb will produce some 35 cuttable flowers, compared to a fifth as many from a number three bulb. Number ones will make about 20 flowers, number twos a dozen or more.

Stick to jumbos for containers and most smaller plantings. Smaller number twos or even threes serve well for mass plantings.

Because ranunculus are cool-season bloomers, their natural companions include other cool-season flowers such as snapdragon, calendula, larkspur (Consolida ambigua), Chinese forget-me-not (Cynoglossum amabile), African daisy , candytuft (Iberis), sweet pea  toadflax (Linaria), forget-me-not,  Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule), primrose , and pansy (Viola). The question is how to combine colors.

To plant ranunculus in containers, use one or two large tubers in a 10-inch pot. Soak the dried tuber for an hour before planting. Fill the pot with potting soil, place the tubers claw-side down and cover with 1 to 2 inches of soil.

Water well and place the pot in a well-lit, 60 degree area. Unless the soil dries out, don’t water again until leaves appear. Feed the plants every two weeks with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer.

Commercially, ranunculus flowers are propagated by rhizome divisions. As the plant grows, more rhizomes are produced. These are part of the root system. Each section of rhizome is capable of producing a plant. It is possible to grow a ranunculus plant from even a tiny piece of the rhizome.

After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don’t cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight and provide nourishment for next year’s show. Water as needed during active growth periods. Ranunculus actually prefer not to be watered while dormant.

At the end of the summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage many be removed at this point. Your ranunculus will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle.

Ranunculus: a beautiful chance for every garden and the star of your affection for spring/summer. My love for elegant and enduring blooms of  ranunculus knows no bounds.

Yours truly for a great garden with flowers, berries, and veggies.

Polly – Organic Gardener

abuod July 25, 2012 at 4:39 pm

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