Ranunculus – buttercup

Several of this large, mostly hardy group of plants, which contains herbaceous perennials, tuberous-rooted perennials and annuals, are useful for the border, the rock garden and for the water garden.

Suitable site and soil. Plant all but aquatic varieties in well-drained soil in a sunny or partially shaded spot.

Cultivation and care. Plant herbaceous and aquatic varieties in autumn or winter. Thin out aquatic species each spring.

Propagation. Increase most by division in autumn or late winter. R. asiaticiis tubers can be separated when lifted.

Recommended varieties. The herbaceous perennial R. aconi-tifolius ‘Flore Pleno’ (fair maids of France) grows up to 75cm – 2’ – jft high and spreads to 45cm – 18in. It has double white flowers, produced in late spring and early summer. Another good herbaceous perennial, based on the common buttercup, is R. (icris ‘Flore Pleno’ which grows to 75cm – 2.5ft high and has double yellow flowers. The tuberous-rooted R. asiaticus (Persian buttercup) grows to about 40cm – 15in and comes in a number of strains with, most commonly, double or semi-double red, yellow and white flowers 8cm – 3in across produced in late spring – early summer. It spreads to about only 20cm – 8in. A good rock garden variety is R. alpestris (alpine buttercup) with white flowers and glossy leaves. In the water garden, R. lingua has small yellow flowers in spring and grows to 90cm – 3ft; it should be planted in 15cm – 6in of water.

Pests and diseases. Usually no problems.


The tuberous R. asiaticus is not fully hardy. In cold areas it should be lifted in late summer, then dried and cleaned, before being stored in a cool, dry place for replanting in early spring.

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