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Ravishing Ranunculus: Everything You Need To Know

Ravishing Ranunculus: Everything You Need To Know

Although they’re members of the Buttercup family, our ornamental Ranunculus bulbs are a far cry from the simple yet cheerful yellow flowers we remember from childhood games! Offering breathtakingly intricate flowers in almost every color of the rainbow, the Persian Ranunculus will certainly brighten up your borders, pots, and even bouquets! And we've got a kaleidoscopic collection of exquisite Persian Buttercup bulbs available for you to choose from.

What Are Ranunculus?

Ranunculus is a huge and varied genus, comprising around 1800 different species of flowering plants. The exceptional diversity contained within the genus includes annual, perennial, and biennial flowers; aquatic, alpine, and terrestrial plants; creeping, clumping, and upright growth habits; shade-loving woodland dwellers, sun-worshipping meadow flowers, and everything in between. Ranunculus has a vast global territory, sprawling primarily across temperate regions of the Americas, Europe, parts of Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, although every continent on the planet has at least one native ranunculus species, including Antarctica!

How to grow and care for Ranunculus

The History of Ranunculus

Ranunculi are amongst some of the oldest flowering plants on the planet! Fossil evidence of early Ranunculus ancestors can be dated around 250 million years, to sometime during the Pliocene Epoch. So the humble Ranunculus once shared this earth with Woolly Mammoths and Mastodons!

The genus name ‘Ranunculus’ is made up of two Latin words; Rana which means ‘frog’ and unculus meaning ‘little’. So Ranunculi are ‘little frogs’! It’s thought they earned this rather adorable name because they are often found growing wild along riverbanks, streams, and wetlands, which is prime frog habitat, of course!

Some members of the Ranunculus family are well-known for their medicinal properties too, having featured prominently in traditional Native American herbalism practices for millennia. The dried petals were used to soothe aches, pains, and a variety of skin problems, whilst tinctures made from crushed Ranunculi were applied to the chest to treat coughs, colds, and respiratory issues. So effective are they that many herbalists still use Ranunculi today!

Buttercups, but not like you know them!

Perhaps unfairly, many Ranunculi species have earned themselves a reputation as pesky garden weeds. This is because the vigorous root systems and unwavering tenacity of many wild species mean they can spread rapidly through lawns and borders. So whilst creeping varieties aren’t exactly ideal for many gardens, ornamental Ranunculus species are far more desirable since they offer stunning blooms coupled with neat, compact growth habits.

Whilst most wild Ranunculus species feature a characteristic simple yellow flower (like the quintessential Buttercup), there’s one Ranunculus species in particular that eclipses all others, the Ranunculus Asiaticus. Better known as the Persian Ranunculus, this species is beloved by gardeners and florists alike for its tissue-paper-thin, lightly crinkled petals which are tightly arranged in perfectly neat rosette formations. Often likened to miniature Roses or Peonies, each Persian Ranunculus contains between 100 to 130 individual petals, a far cry from their simplistic, five-petalled cousins!

We have an enchanting collection of Persian Ranunculus bulbs ranging in color from delicate creams to rich golds and fiery oranges like our, pretty pinks, bright crimsons, and deepest purples like our Ranunculus Merlot.

How to grow Ranunculus bulbs and flowers

Beware the Beauty!

Don’t be fooled by the unassuming gracefulness of these flowers though! All members of the Ranunculus genus contain a compound called Ranunculin, which can be toxic to both humans and animals if ingested. Luckily though, their acrid taste means most hungry or inquisitive animals will steer well clear of them, so they’re very safe to grow in your garden. Just avoid handling the bulbs excessively, and wear protective gloves when planting to prevent any skin irritation.

The Tale of the Persian Prince

The beautiful Ranunculus Asiaticus is the subject of a legendary folklore in its native region of Persia. The tale tells of a young prince who fell in love with a beautiful nymph, much to the dismay of the many young female admirers who hoped to one day marry him. The prince would secretly visit his beloved nymph day and night to serenade her with love songs. But when his adoration wasn’t returned by the nymph, the poor prince died of a broken heart and was transformed into a Ranunculus flower. It’s said Ranunculus flowers still burst into bloom on the exact spot where he died.

Fabulous Floristry

One of the reasons that Ranunculus are so popular is their longevity as a cut flower, effortlessly retaining their vibrancy and form for up two weeks! In fact, they are amongst the most commonly used flowers by florists, and are one of the most in-demand and on-trend flowers for wedding bouquets, in large part due to their romantic rose-like appearance. But the allure of a Ranunculus bouquet is nothing new. In The Victorian Language of Flowers, known as ‘Floriography’, gifting a bouquet of Ranunculus was a great way to express adoration, affection, and everlasting love towards the recipient!

Many gardeners opt to plant Ranunculus in ‘cutting gardens’, growing a collection of cut-and-come-again bouquet-friendly plants borders together. This is a fun and creative way to enjoy your Ranunculus, giving you an almost endless supply of beautiful cut flowers for your own home, as well as gifts for friends and relatives. As an added bonus, Ranunculus are usually scentless, meaning they’re the ideal cut flower for people who are sensitive to strong smells!

But if you prefer to keep your Ranunculus outdoors, you can delight in the versatility that our Persian Ranunculus bulbs offer. Happy to grow in both pots and borders, their compact, neat growth habit requires little maintenance. Emerging in spring, they’ll bring a real pop of color as the garden awakens from its winter hibernation. With the right care, Ranunculus can remain in bloom for six weeks, and the bulbs are quick to flower too, usually around 90 days from planting, which is perfect for us impatient gardeners!

Top Tips for Taking Ranunculus Cuttings

Top Tips for Taking Ranunculus Cuttings

  1. To take cuttings from your Ranunculus, chose healthy, straight stems that are crowned with soft, squishy buds. Trimming just before the bud has opened means you’ll have even longer to enjoy your cut flowers.
  2. Strip off any foliage from the bottom of the stem to prevent it from rotting, and place the stems in a vase of water with a little cut-flower food.
  3. You can also dry out your Ranunculus cuttings to increase their longevity. Hang them upside down in a cool, dry, dark area for around a week after cutting. Once completely dried, they can be displayed however you choose, just don’t place them in water. Dried Ranunculus won’t wilt like cut flowers in water, although they’ll lose some of their vibrancy over time.

And don’t worry about removing flowers from your ranunculus plants, they’re prolific bloomers and new flowers will soon emerge to replace any you’ve removed. They truly are a gift that keeps on giving!

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Meet Ben, our Flower Bulb Specialist
Meet Ben, our Flower Bulb Specialist

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