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Growing Ranunculus: The Correct Way To Plant Bulbs

If you’re not growing ranunculus (Tecolote ranunculus) in your garden, you might consider giving it a go. These gorgeous bloomers have a rose-like appearance with layers of thin petals, straight stems, and frilly foliage. And the color range! Anywhere from white, cream and pale yellow to golden yellow, apricot, orange, red, and burgundy. Most gardeners, regardless of zone, can grow ranunculus — you simply have to understand what they like in order to be their blooming best.

multi colored ranunculas

Ranunculus Growing Requirements

  • Light: Full sun Temperature: 55° (think Southern California)
  • Water: Light water at planting, then medium water when actively growing
  • Soil: Light and well-drained
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: Zones 4-7 (annuals), Zones 8-10 (perennials)
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purple ranunculas

How to Plant Ranunculus Bulbs

Planting ranunculus couldn’t be any easier. They come as bulbs (or corms) and are typically mail-ordered or picked up at a garden center — look for large, healthy-looking bulbs that will grow and support large, healthy plants with lots of blooms.

Plant ranunculus bulbs 4” apart and about 2” deep with the “claw” side down in a location receiving full sun. Cover with soil and lightly water in. Now, leave it alone until you see signs of leaves sprouting — that’s right, no water! Then moderately water during active growth and blooming. (I told you this was easy, didn’t I?)

When blooms have finished, let the foliage yellow and wither before cutting back. And during this time, don’t water at all, as that could rot your bulbs.

Planting time? That depends upon where you live. If you’re in Zones 8-10, plant in the fall for spring blooms. Gardeners in Zones 4-7, plant in the spring for late summer bloom, and plan on treating them as annuals. Yes, I know you don’t want to plant annual bulbs — but come on, with flowers as gorgeous as these are (and which are so easy to plant), don’t you think it’s worth it?

white ranunculas

How to Use Ranunculus

Because of their straight stems and medium-sized growth, ranunculus are ideal for container plantings, borders, cutting gardens, and mixed perennial gardens. Want to use them in a cut flower arrangement? Here are some quick tips:

1. Cut the stems when buds are showing but aren’t yet open.

2. Remove the leaves from the lower part of the stem.

3. Re-cut the bottoms of the stems after you go inside, and place them in a vase of water immediately.

4. Change water every other day to enjoy beautiful cut ranunculus for up to 10 days.


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ranunculus canva
pink and red ranunculus

26 Comments

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  1. I have been crazy looking for this paper like roses for ages I saw one time in a long term care I’ve been tracking the florist but no luck all these years I have my mind set on these gorgeous!!!

    • Hi Linda, you can dig up your ranunculus bulbs and replant them this spring. You’ll want to dig out the tubers when the foliage is dry and dead. Cut off the leaves and allow the tubers to dry completely for several days, either indoors in a warm low humidity room, or out in the sun. Store the tubers in dry moss, such as peat, or use a mesh onion bag, they work great for saving and storing bulbs and tubers. After the cold season is over, start the tubers indoors in February and plant them when the soil is warm and workable which will likely be around mid-April. Happy gardening!

  2. I live in zone 8. (Central Texas) I ordered some bulbs online. They will be coming by February. If I planted them do you think they would bloom before it gets to hot?

    • Hi Nicole, since ranunculus bulbs are winter hardy in Zone 8 it is generally recommended to plant them in the fall so they bloom in late winter or early spring before high temperatures arrive. Ranunculus normally start to flower around 90 days after planting, therefore, your bulbs wouldn’t begin to flower until May. If you plant them in February their bloom time may be shortened and you may have fewer flowers due to the higher May temperatures.

    • Hi Rose, we recommend checking out your local nurseries, garden centers, and home improvement stores when purchasing ranunculus bulbs. If you’re interested in ordering bulbs online search, “Ranunculus bulbs for sale”. You’ll find a variety of online retailers. We always suggest purchasing from a reputable seller. Happy gardening!

    • Hi Sandra, your planting time will depend on your Zone. It is recommended that gardeners in Zones 4-7 plant in the spring for late summer blooms and gardeners in Zones 8-10 plant in the fall for spring blooms, allowing their bulbs to overwinter. To determine what Zone you’re in check out this blog post: https://www.kellogggarden.com/blog/gardening/how-to-find-your-planting-zone/. It sounds like you live in a Zone that experiences winter frosts and freezes, therefore, you can start your bulbs in a greenhouse and plant them out at the very end of winter. Plants can be moved outside once the threat of deep freezing has passed; this is usually about a month before your last spring frost. We hope this helps, happy gardening!

  3. Hi, I live in zone 10 and mine are blooming now, although it’s starting to get hot and the foliage is starting to get brown and withered…. when it’s time to cut them back, do I just leave them in the ground and they will start growing again? In other words, how to you treat them as perennials? Thank you!

    • Hi Ashley! For zone 10 you can leave bulbs in the ground, the winters are mild so there isn’t any risk of damage from the cold. You don’t want to water the bulbs after the season has ended, you can risk rot. If you are worried they may not do well being left in you can dig the tubers up and store them in a cool dry place to replant next season.

    • Hi Mercedes, yes you should store them. For zone 9 planting in the fall gives the bulbs a cool season to establish for spring blooming. They should be stored in a cool dry place, until fall.

  4. I recently received corms, I live in zone 9, do I need to store them in the fridge until fall to plant or can’t I plant them now?

    • It is best to store them to be planted next fall so they have enough of a cool season to establish for early spring blooming. They should be stored in a cool dry place, where you store your seeds.

  5. I live in zone 8, you say to plant in the “fall” – would you mind being more specific of which months that means?

  6. I just bought some beautiful raunculas plants and want to transplant outside. Whats the best way to do this?
    Thanks,

    • Hi Jeweline, if you’re in zones 4-7, you can transplant them in the spring for summer blooms. Plant them in a location that receives full sun with light, well-draining soil. Be sure to provide them with adequate water.

  7. Hi. How do i know if they are perennials? I live in Chicago and just received my bulbs. What’s the best way to do it?
    If I plant in a pot can I bring them inside after the season?

    • Hi Jo, ranunculus flowers can be grown as perennials in zones 8-11, however, whether or not your ranunculus are perennials will depend on the variety. You should see plant information on a tag or the packaging, if not you can Google the variety and you should find out whether it is a perennial. Plant ranunculus bulbs 4” apart and about 2” deep with the “claw” side down in a location receiving full sun. Then cover them with soil and lightly water in. Gardeners in Zones 4-7 can plant in the spring for late summer blooms. To determine your growing zone, check out this article: https://www.kellogggarden.com/blog/gardening/how-to-find-your-planting-zone/. To save your bulbs for the next season, let the foliage yellow and wither before cutting back after the blooms have finished. During this time, don’t water at all, as that could rot your bulbs. Store the tubers in dry moss, such as peat, in a mesh bag in a cool, dry place over winter. If you’re growing your plants in containers, allow the foliage to die back and store the pot in a cool dry place over winter.

  8. I am contemplating buying renunculus bulbs. I live in 7B so I will plant them in a few weeks. We get a lot of rain here so what do I do about keeping them dry until they have sprouted?
    Also, can I bring them inside for winter and replant next spring?

    • Hi Michelle, if you live in an area that receives a lot of rain, it’s important to ensure that your soil is well-draining. After planting your bulbs and watering them in, adding 2 to 3 inches of mulch, compost, or other organic materials can help regulate the soil’s moisture levels. To save your bulbs for the next season, let the foliage yellow and wither after the blooms have finished before cutting back. During this time, don’t water at all, as that could rot your bulbs. Store the tubers in dry moss, such as peat, in a mesh bag in a cool, dry place over winter.

  9. I live in zone 7 where planting ranunculus would be in spring. It gets very hot and humid here in summer. I read that ranunculus prefer cooler temperatures. Is it even possible to grow them here?

    • Hi Marilyn, ranunculus can actually grow in zones 3 through 10. In colder zones, the bulbs need to be overwintered indoors. In warmer zones with mild winter temperatures, the bulbs can be overwintered outside. In your zone, ranunculus should be planted in the fall and can be successfully overwintered outdoors but may need to be minimally protected with a low tunnel or frost cloth. We recommend reaching out to your local county extension office. They are experts on gardening in your region and will be able to offer more advice. You can also look for gardening groups in your area on Facebook, there may be some gardeners that can tell you how they grow ranunculus in your area.

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