My first exposure to the Ranunculus family came when I was about six. We moved into a house that had a south-facing slope. During the first spring of our residence the hillside became covered almost overnight with Ranunculus repens, Creeping Buttercup. I don’t think my parents were all that excited, as this species is now classified as a noxious weed, but I loved the tiny yellow blossoms. Move forward a few decades and the Ranunculus still enthralls me, only this time around it’s the beautiful fully-double blooms of the Persian buttercup, Ranunculus asiaticus. Nothing noxious about these beauties!
NUTS AND BOLTS
Ranunculus is grown from small claw-like tubers. Gardeners can purchase tubers but blooming plants are available in four inch pots in spring. Depending on the cultivar plants will grow up to ten inches tall. Persian buttercup is not winter hardy, but plants will stand temperatures down to -10 deg. C, making them a great choice for early spring colour in our area. The crepe paper-like blooms come in a huge range of vivid colours and last for up to a week in a vase as a cut flower. Once the flowers have faded treat the plants as annuals and compost them.
PLANT THEM WITH…
Persian buttercups are ideal for spring containers, as they will take the cold and last for weeks on end. Combine them with potted bulbs, pansies, primroses and other cool weather options for a splash of colour by your front door in March and April. In the garden use Ranunculus with other spring bloomers like Arabis or Aubretia (Rock Cress), Iberis (Candytuft), Myosotis (Forget-me-not) or Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicale). The wide variety of colours ensures that there will be no shortage of dazzling combinations to be had.