Ranunculus

Ranunculus is a very large genus of fibrous and tuberous rooted plants, of value for garden decoration and for cutting. Though thought by many lovers of this flower to be so tender that they would provide only disappointing results, the Ranunculus and its many lovely species has for long remained sadly neglected. It is a wonderful plant for a damp corner of a garden, by the side of a stream or pond or even in a dell which is kept moist by overhanging trees. The hybrid strains which are so valuable for commercial cut-flower purposes require quite the opposite conditions.

They like a richly manured soil and one containing a large amount of humus, but a position facing south and protected from cold winds. Planted in a sandy soil containing ample supplies of humus and especially in sheltered areas the corms may be left in the ground undisturbed for several years – those gardens with a heavier soil and in an exposed district or position should be lifted every October and replanted mid-March each year. Those that are allowed to remain in the ground should be given a peat mulch during October.Ranunculus

PLANTING

The corms have peculiar claws which should be placed downwards when planting them 2-3 in. deep and kin. Apart. A mixture of sand and peat sprinkled round each corm will get them away to a good start. The cut-flower grower will plant in beds of exact width to enable picking to be done to the middle of the bed without damaging the outside rows. My own method is to plant the corms 6 in. apart each way and to make a bed of six rows. If cloches are to be used for covering the rows early in May then make the rows only 4 in. wide and set out the corms in three-row beds leaving a path of 18 in. between each section.

SPECIES

  • Ranunculus alpestris. This is an interesting species for the rockery for June flowering. It produces a bloom like a white buttercup with golden stamens. It must be given a porous, yet moist soil and one containing plenty of calcium.
  • R. anemonoides. Of purest white and very much like Anemone blanda in form. The flowers are enhanced by the attractive grey, fern-like foliage. In bloom during June and of very dwarf habit.
  • R. asiaticus. This is the double form more popularly known as the French Ranunculus. They have a colour range from yellow to red and orange and are most striking. This section is slightly more tender than the others and should be confined to gardens of the far south.
  • R. asiaticus vulgaris. In this section is included the Persian and Turban varieties with their huge colour range, hardy constitution and length of stem for cutting.
  • R. glasialis. From the Arctic regions and in flower during July and August. Bears pure white flowers which fade to a rosy red colour. Favours a moist, lime-free situation and should be planted in deep, gritty soil, preferably in a rockery.

R. asiaticus is a species growing about 9 in. high, many of the flowers being variegated and prettily marked. From this species there have come many interesting varieties, some of which have proved most dependable both to the home gardener and florist. They can be lifted when the foliage has died down and stored until the autumn. These include the Double Turban or Turkish strains, the flowers of which are large, rose-shaped and self-coloured. Planted in mixture, the brilliant shades of scarlet, rose, orange, yellow and white are extremely showy in the spring.

The giant French strain is vigorous growing, with large semi-double blooms in many delightful shades, all having a central black blotch. The Paeony-flowered ranunculuses produce on strong stems large flowers as much as 4 in. in diameter.

All of these strains thrive in ordinary good soil and are best planted where they are not exposed to cold winds. Plant the tubers 2 in. deep, keeping the claws downwards. The giant French strain should be planted in February and March, the remainder from October to March, but preferably before Christmas. Give plenty of moisture during dry weather in the spring. A layer of peat or leaf soil in April or early May will be beneficial. These ranunculuses also make excellent pot plants and do best when plunged outdoors until they are well rooted.

Propagation is by separating the offsets from the older tubers, or by seed sown when it is thoroughly ripened, although several years may elapse before seedlings flower.

 

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