Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Magic Of Persian Buttercups

Ranunculus asiaticus, also known as Persian Buttercups, are fabulous perennials with a most unlikely name.  Ranunculus (pronounced ra-NUN-ku-lus), you see, means "little frog."  They are so called because some of the other species within the genus are native to watery places.  But this magical plant bears no resemblance to its salientian namesake.  Reminds me of Der Froschk√∂nig.

Persian Buttercups are native to the eastern Mediterranean region and nearby Asia, southeastern Europe and northwestern Africa.  Flower colors range from white to shades of pink and red, orange and yellow.  Plant height and spread are approximately 12" to 18".

Though they are cold hardy in USDA climate zones 8 through 11, there is hardly a gardener who can not use them.  The tuberous roots can be dug when the weather begins to cool, and stored until the following spring, but gardeners who live in cold climates often save themselves the trouble and treat them as annuals, planting fresh ones each year.

Flowering begins in late spring and continues into early summer.  Persian Buttercups are excellent in container gardens, perennial and bulb gardens, and absolutely fantastic for cut flower arrangements.  They are particularly beautiful when planted in lavish beds, or tucked here and there among other flowers.

Plant in full sun and in average, well-drained soil with pH ranging from 6.1 to 7.5.

Before planting, take a sample of your garden soil to your local Cooperative Extension Service office.  They often provide collection bags.  For the most basic recommendations, you may be charged a nominal fee.  For more information such as micro-nutrient and organic content you may be charged more.

Ranunculus planting begins in fall for gardeners in warmer climates.  Gardeners in colder climates should plant them in spring a couple of weeks or so before last frost.  Prepare the planting bed by cultivating at least 6" deep, removing all traces of weeds. Compacted soil should be cultivated to 10" deep. Poorly drained sites can be improved by raising the height of the planting beds.

Your soil sample report from your local Cooperative Extension Service will include fertilizer recommendations based upon the results of the test.  Following instructions should be a good bet.  A fine all-around practice for Ranunculus is to mix 5 tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer and 2 cups of bone meal per ten square feet area of garden.  Repeat the application when shoots appear, but be careful that fertilizer does not come into direct contact with plant tissue.  Apply 2 tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer per ten square feet of garden area every two weeks until flower buds appear.  Bone meal is often beneficial.

Like many popular ornamental plants, Persian Buttercups are toxic to mammals.  Some chemicals in them can also cause skin irritations for sensitive persons, so avoid prolonged contact.

The tuberous roots are attached together at the top and somewhat resemble claws.  Plant them "claws" down about 2” deep, and 8" apart for a lush appearance.  They don't look like much, but know that they will soon be transformed into something handsome as if by magic.  Cover them with soil and add a top-dressing of mulch about 2" deep to suppress weeds.  Water regularly, but do not over-water.

To induce new blooms, remove (dead-head) spent flowers.  Of course, cutting them fresh for arrangements is perfect for encouraging more.  When hot weather arrives, the plants will begin to yellow and go dormant.  After leaves have dried, the roots may be dug and stored.

Plant a box of them.  When your "little frogs" bloom, you'll be astonished and wonder, "Where have you been all my life?"

Return to


Unknown said...

They have always been some of my favorites. Especially the pinks and purples. Picotee's too! Thanks for all the great info.

Unknown said...

Thanks for following me! Love your blog!