The Ranunculus (Ranunculus asiaticus) comes from the Orient and came from Turkey to England in the 16th century. For a long time this plant, which belongs to the buttercup family, was very popular and had a similarly high value as the tulip. At the end of the 19th century it fell somewhat into oblivion, but in the meantime it has regained great popularity due to its rich flower colours and is available in numerous varieties. Most buttercups are planted as spring ornaments in pots and boxes and decorate balconies or terraces. Even if they are offered very early, one should make sure that Ranunculus do not get frost, because they are not used to low temperatures from their homeland.
Although ranunculus are poisonous plants, they also have a certain significance as medicinal plants. In the right dosage and dosage form, the ingredients of the plant are used against rheumatism, various skin diseases and arthritis. If taken uncontrolled, all parts of the plant can cause signs of poisoning. These range from nausea and vomiting to fainting and bleeding. So be careful when children and pets are out in the garden.
Growth and flowering
The bright early summer flowering plants grow both in the sun and in semi-shade and can provide a colourful sea of flowers for several years with proper care and overwintering. Depending on the variety, they reach a growth height of 20 to 40 centimetres and a growth width of about 20 centimetres. Stem and foliage are lush green and downy. The leaves are mostly trilobate and with toothed segments. From April, the almost spherical flower heads with a diameter of up to 50 millimetres appear in white, yellow, orange, pink or red. Some varieties also flower in two colours, sometimes a coloured border adorns the delicate petals. The wild Ranunculus flowers unfilled, but thanks to intensive cultivation there are varieties with very densely filled flowers. Particularly impressive are the peony buttercups, which are often offered as a splendid mixture.
The colour spectrum of the ranunculus flowers is also increasing more and more, as the growers are always producing new creations here, such as orange with a yellow-green centre or white with a pink edge. Particularly expressive are varieties in bright yellow, discreet pink or with two-tone flowers. Unfortunately there are no variety denominations, because Ranunculus are only offered sorted by colour. The best way to buy flowering plants is to choose them according to your taste.
Location and substrate
Ranunculus with their bright flowers should definitely get a place in the flower bed or on the terrace. They prefer a semi-shade, humid, but not too wet location. A permeable substrate – mixed with sand or gravel – is ideal in the pot to prevent damage caused by waterlogging. Also in the bed, a drainage layer of gravel or sand under the tubers is useful if the soil is rather loamy. If you protect the plant from direct midday sunlight, the flowers will not wither so quickly.
Planting and care
Planting time for the claw-like root tubers of the ranunculus is from March to April. Before they are placed five centimetres deep in moist, nutrient-rich soil, the tubers are placed in water for about three to four hours. The soil should always be kept moist so that you can enjoy the beautiful flowering splendour of the ranunculus in a pot or bed as long as possible. Avoid waterlogging, otherwise the leaves will turn yellow and the tubers may rot. During the flowering period in April to June, ranunculus are grateful for regular additions of fertiliser to the watering water. In the case of special forms of cultivation with very protruding flowers, regular fertilisation is even necessary in order to safeguard the nutrient balance of the plant. cutting of the ranunculus is usually not necessary, as the above-ground parts of the plant die off in winter anyway. However, there are a few care activities that extend the flowering time, for example:
As soon as the large flowers begin to wither, they should be cut off. This gives the plant the impulse to form new flower buds.
If ranunculus grow too dense, a thinning cut is worthwhile.
Dead leaves – especially near the ground – should be removed immediately. This stimulates plant growth and prevents leaf fungus infestation.
In the course of a year, the mother-bulb of the Ranunculus asiaticus trains so-called brood-bulbs. These can be cut off with a sharp knife and are then ready to be discarded. These brood-bubbles are offered mostly also in the trade. They are watered for a few hours before planting. In a water bath, the dried tubers absorb a lot of water and their shrivelled surface becomes smooth and firm. If they remain shrivelled even after several hours in the water, they probably were stored too long and died. The mini tubers are planted about five centimetres deep after watering with the tuber tips downwards. If the plants are taken out of the ground in autumn for wintering, cleaned out and stored, large tubers can also be divided and planted separately in spring.
A further possibility of propagation is the growing of young plants from seeds. If you let individual flowers ripen well after withering, you can collect the caraway seeds quite easily. The propagation by seeds is a little more complex, because there are several points to consider:
For sowing, use a covered growing tray or a mini greenhouse to keep the seeds moist.
Ranunculus are light buckets. Therefore, only sift the seeds with a thin layer of sand and press lightly on them.
In order for the seeds to germinate, the temperature should be constant between 10 and 15 degrees. With larger deviations upwards or downwards, germination is delayed.
Always keep the soil slightly moist, preferably with a spray bottle.
The seeds should be sown in autumn or early spring so that the necessary temperatures for germination are available. In autumn they should be grown in the sowing container, as the young plants must be wintered. In spring it can also be sown directly in the bed.
Diseases and pests
Since ranunculus prefer a wet soil, they are often attacked by mildew. In this case, affected plants must be removed immediately to prevent spread. If the infestation is only detected when several plants are already infested in the bed, fungicides can still help to treat mildew. If they do not strike, unfortunately only a complete removal of the plants helps. Another problem is that the ranunculus is high on the snails’ menu. Snail fences or slug pellets help here. Aphids also frequently appear on the flower buds of the plant. Natural remedies such as stinging nettle decoction can help here.
Ranunculus as a cut flower
Ranunculus asiaticus also have a brilliant appearance in a vase. As soloists or combined with other spring flowers, they bring cheerful splashes of colour into the home. They can already be bought in flower shops in early spring. You can also cut the flowers later in your garden. The petals should be firmly closed in the middle. Then the flowers are particularly fresh and you will enjoy the radiant ranunculus for 10 to 14 days.
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.