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Gardening 101: Ranunculus


Gardening 101: Ranunculus

December 11, 2016

Ranunculus: “The Little Frog”

Ranunculus, especially of the buttercup variety, has a long history in legend. In Latin, its name means “little frog,” because the flower was first spotted growing near bodies of water. The original Asian myth that became “the princess and the frog” claimed that the prince was transformed not into a frog at all, but a Ranunculus (far more pleasant for the princess).


Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle. For more, see Frugal Flowers: How to Make Supermarket Ranunculus Look Like a Million Bucks.

Flowers in the Ranunculus genus can have ruffled petals delicately layered like a French pastry. Ranunculus makes any bouquet of freshly cut flowers a dazzling success, with its intricate blossoms atop long bendy stems. Perhaps this is why ranunculus is a favorite at weddings, paired with roses and peonies.


Above: Buttercups are also members of the Ranunculus genus. Photograph by Xemenendura via Wikimedia.

Cheat Sheet

  • Frequently grown as a cut flower, Ranunculus will improve any bouquet.
  • Grow with garden roses and peonies for a trio of bouquet champions.
  • Ranunculus tubers look like tiny clusters of bananas. Don’t be confused by the odd shape; plant them with the “bananas” pointing down.


Above: Photograph by Meredith Swinehart. For more, see Foolproof Spring Bulbs for a Beginner.

Keep It Alive

  • Ranunculus enjoys full sun and does not need to be watered once established.
  • Plant bulbs 2 inches deep and from 4 to 6 inches apart.
  • Plant Ranunculus in autumn or early spring.


Photograph by Justine Hand. For more, see Test Drive: Which Cut Flowers Last Longest?

Above: Though Ranunculus flowers can grow in the wild, and even colonize whole fields, you will have to plant these buttery beauties if you want them in your garden. Plant in either fall or early spring, depending on when you want ranunculus to bloom. We recommend harvesting these full-bodied blossoms in time for Mother’s Day.

N.B.: For more springtime flowers to plant in addition to Ranunculus, see our Garden Design 101 guides:

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