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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

4 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!

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