What You Will Need
Top quality ranunculus corms
- Potting soil or peat moss
- Organic fertilizer
- Frost cloth
- Drip irrigation or soaker hoses
- Depending on where you live and what kind of set up you're working with, you can plant your ranunculus in either the fall or late winter-early spring. While spring planted corms won't be quite as prolific as fall-planted ones, a nice harvest can still be had. In areas with mild winter temps (zone 7 and above) ranunculuses can be planted in the fall and successfully overwintered outdoors with minimal protection such as a low tunnel or frost cloth. In colder areas, where temps dip well below freezing for extended periods of time, you can start them indoors—in a hoophouse or low tunnel, or in trays to plant out later—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.
- When you unpack your ranunculus corms you'll notice they resemble little brown octopuses, and are probably not what you were expecting. Don't worry, these strange looking creatures will actually produce an abundance of beautiful, ruffly blooms!
- Before planting, soak corms for 3-4 hours in room temperature water, leaving the water running just slightly during the process to help provide extra oxygen. As the corms soak, they will plump up, often doubling in size. After soaking, corms can either be planted directly into the ground, or be presprouted. Presprouting the corms before planting will give plants a jump start and you'll have flowers a few weeks earlier than non-presprouted ones.
- To presprout, fill a flat-bottom seed tray halfway full of moist potting soil. Sprinkle the soaked corms into the soil and cover them with more soil so that they are completely covered. Leave this tray in a cool place (40-50° F or 4-10° C), where rodents can't find it for 10-14 days. Check on them every few days and make sure the soil is moist but not soggy and remove any that show signs of rot or mold.
- During this time, corms will swell to twice their original size and develop little white rootlets that resemble hair. Once these roots are about 1/8- 1/2" (0.3-1 cm) long (pull them up to check), plant them in the ground 2-3" (5-7.5 cm)deep.
- During cold stretches, when temps dip below freezing, cover the plants with a layer of frost cloth.
- Ranunculus normally starts to flower about 90 days after planting. Fall planted corms bloom in early spring and continue steadily for six to seven weeks. Late winter planted corms will flower by mid spring and continue for four to six weeks.
- The vase life on Ranunculus is outstanding, often exceeding 10 days! Cut when buds are colored and squishy like a marshmallow but not open for the longest vase life. If cut open they still last a good week but are more fragile to transport.