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Whether planted in a garden or in an artfully arranged bouquet – ranunculus can be recognized immediately by their brightly colored, densely layered petals. “With such a wide variety of species and an endless variety of colors, ranunculus adds a pop of color to any landscape,” notes Josh Bateman, owner of Prince Gardening in Pittsburgh. “These flowers are common additions to bouquets for weddings and florists. So who wouldn’t want them in their garden?” Below, Bateman shares everything you need to know about growing and caring for this type of flower at home.
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Common ranunculus varieties include Persian Buttercups, Clooney Tango, and Hanoi, all of which perform well in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8-11. They should be planted in the ground in late fall to allow the flowers to bloom by spring. If you want to grow ranunculus in a cooler climate like zone seven or below, Bateman recommends waiting until April or until the last frost of the season, which should produce flowers by midsummer. Regardless of your environment, you’ll need to choose a location where your ranunculus will get full sun and “just keep in mind that these flowers have quite a large root system too,” says Bateman. “If you add them to an outdoor setting, it shouldn’t be a problem, but container planting is more limited in space.”
Soil conditions, irrigation and fertilization
Ranunculus are prone to root rot, so well-drained soil is of the utmost importance. After watering your bulbs for the first time, Bateman recommends that you do not water them again until the soil is completely dry. “This is a very similar schedule to most houseplants,” he says. “The top layer of soil may seem dry, but the soil underneath can still be very damp. You should always test the soil with your finger to see if it is actually dry.” During the growing season, Bateman suggests a light treatment with onion fertilizer.
Deadhead has given out flowers to encourage new growth or cut a few stems for an indoor arrangement (they will last a long time in the vase!) – both of which will result in more blooms. For gardeners living in zones 8 through 11, there’s a good chance you can enjoy your ranunculus next spring as well. For those in cooler climates, these flowers should be treated as annuals; You’ll need to plant a fresh crop next season if you want those vibrant blooms.