Ranunculus Bulb Planting Guide
Attention All Cut-Flower Fans! If you’re a cut-flower lover—and who’s not?—you’ll love ranunculus. Tecolote ranunculus may not be as well-known as some blooms, but we’re betting that will change. Incredibly vivid, bold flower colors, straight stems perfect for snipping, an extended vase life, and numerous tissue-paper blooms on each plant make ranunculus a garden must-have. All they ask is lots of bright sun, a rich soil, and light watering. If you like spring flowers and want more color and form options than the usual tulips and narcissus, then make space for ranunculus. There’s no need to purchase a bouquet at the florist or grocery anymore when you can grow your own spectacular ranunculus displays literally for pennies—all spring long.
Moderate with growth
How to Grow Ranunculus in Landscape Beds
Growing ranunculus outdoors is easy! In zones 8 and warmer, plant ranunculus bulbs in the fall. In colder zones, plant in spring. It takes between 2-3 months for spring planted ranunculus to bloom after planting.
Choose a spot for your ranunculus where the soil drains well. If you see that water still puddles 5 to 6 hours after a hard rain, find another spot. You can amend the soil, instead, by adding organic matter, at least 2 to 3 inches of it, to improve drainage. You can find peat moss, compost, ground bark, or decomposed manure pretty much anywhere; all work great. It’s always easiest to start with a good spot that you know they’ll like, though.
Plant bulbs 4-6 inches apart, 2-3 inches deep. Water after planting to encourage bulbs to establish roots. Refrain from watering again until you see leaves sprouting. (That will likely be in the spring.)
How to Grow Ranunculus in Containers
For some of you gardening in zones colder than zone 8, growing ranunculus in containers may be the best option. (You can also plant outside in the spring. See below.)
To begin, choose a container that’s the right size for the number of bulbs you intend to plant. If the container is too small, no problem; just reduce the number of bulbs you plan to plant. (You can always buy more containers, too!) Make sure the container has a drainage hole at the bottom. Fill the container with good-quality, well-draining potting mix. (Never use “garden soil” for growing bulbs in containers.)
In containers you can get away with less space between bulbs — leaving 3-4 inches between bulbs will allow plenty of room for plants to grow. Plant bulbs about 2 inches deep in the container. Water after planting. When the danger of a hard frost has passed, place the container in a spot where it will receive full sun all day.
How to Grow Ranunculus in Cold Climates
You can grow ranunculus in cold climates. Instead of planting in the fall, you’ll plant in the spring. Because it takes 2-3 months from planting until flowering, you might want to get a head start by planting in containers and moving the containers outdoors. Otherwise you can plant outside about a month before your last average frost.
If you want to grow ranunculus in landscape beds, soak the bulbs 3-4 hours in tepid water before planting outside. This will give them a head start.
Because ranunculus aren’t cold hardy, in zones 7 and colder, you’ll have to start again the following spring with new bulbs. Ranunculus flowers are worth it, though!
Tips for Growing Ranunculus
- Leave them alone after planting in the fall. In zones 8 and warmer, the plants will form tiny rootlets and sprouts, so you don’t want to disturb them.
- Once ranunculus have stopped blooming, allow the foliage to grow until it yellows. The plants need to make food to store for the next year’s bloom.
- As long as foliage is still growing, keep watering (lightly).
- Clip off foliage as it yellows and dies back. During this dormant period (when the leaves are gone), don’t water because you can cause the bulbs to rot.
Enjoying Ranunculus as Cut Flowers
Ranunculus are wonderful cut flowers and can last up to 10 days in a vase. Cut the stems when the flower buds show color but aren’t yet open. Strip off the lower leaves (so they’re not gunking up the water) and re-cut the bottoms of the stems when you bring the flowers indoors. (Then immediately place in a vase.) Change the water every other day to enjoy the flowers for an extended period. The more you cut, the more blooms you’ll get, so sharpen your shears!