UCCE Master Gardeners of Sacramento County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of Sacramento County

Ranunculus RIzz

photos by Erin Mahaney

I love to grow a variety of easy-to plant, spring-flowering bulbs for their colorful, cheery blooms in the garden and to fill vases inside my home. One of my favorites is ranunculus, which come in a variety of colors and petal styles, and are very easy to grow.  The flowers have a long vase life, which helps brighten grey spring days.

Ranunculus corms can be purchased in packages in stores and on the internet.  The corms are strange looking little things with little spikey points.  Many people recommend soaking the corms for about 4 hours (no longer!) to plump them up before planting. I've planted the corms pre-soaked and without soaking (I forgot) and haven't really noticed a difference. But again, the recommendation is to soak them.

Ranunculus require rich soil, full sun, and regular water. The corms should be planted 2” deep with the spikes pointing down.  The plants will bloom about 3 months after planting.  I prefer to plant the corms in the fall so that I'm not mucking about in the muddy garden in late winter, but they can be planted in late winter or early spring as well.  It's worth noting, however, that ranunculus are cool season flowers that bloom primarily in our area until late April or so.  Once the weather warms above about 70 degrees, they are done for the year so the planting and flowering schedule needs to account for warming spring temperatures.

One advantage to planting ranunculus in the fall is that spring-blooming bulbs often go on sale late in the fall season.  This can provide an opportunity to try a variety of flowers, including some that might otherwise be costly at full price.  For example, this year, I experimented with some ruffly Italian Cloni Pon Pon varieties that I purchased at a deep discount last fall.  But the classic varieties, such as the various Tecolate lines, with colors ranging from light pastels to bright hues, bring great joy as well.

Ranunculus are perennial and, in our growing zone, they can rebloom from year to year.  But in my backyard at least, they are best treated as annuals and replanted in the fall.  While some plants will rebloom, a variety of conditions (including drought) can make a difference in whether they survive.  By replanting at least a few new corms each year, I can try a few new varieties and also be sure that I will enjoy a supply of beautiful flowers in the spring.

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Posted on Thursday, May 9, 2024 at 10:21 AM

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