Persian buttercups (Ranunculus asiaticus) are beloved for their brilliantly colored and ruffled petals, tall stems, and long vase life. Their color range—from bright pink, red, and purple to cream, pale yellow, and orange—makes them a favorite at florist shops and in wedding bouquets. Plus, the bulbs are easy to find at nurseries and in catalogs, and they can be planted in the fall or spring, depending on the climate. The plants grow fairly quickly and should provide blooms in the late spring to early summer.
|Botanical Name||Ranunculus asiaticus|
|Common Name||Garden ranunculus, Persian buttercup|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature Size||1 to 2 ft. tall and wide|
|Soil Type||Sandy, loamy, medium moisture, well-drained|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer|
|Flower Color||White, pink, yellow, purple, red|
|Hardiness Zones||8 to 10 (USDA)|
|Toxicity||Toxic to dogs and cats|
Persian Buttercup Care
In warmer climates, Persian buttercups can be planted outdoors in the fall. But in colder areas where the temperatures dip well below freezing for extended periods, wait to plant the bulbs until early spring once the threat of frost has passed, or start the bulbs indoors in pots about eight to 12 weeks before your area's projected last frost date. Plant the bulbs with the end that looks like claws facing down, and cover them with about 1 to 2 inches of soil.
Bulbs planted in the fall generally bloom in early spring and continue producing flowers for six to seven weeks, while those planted in early spring tend to flower by mid-spring and continue for four to six weeks. Deadheading (removing spent flowers) can promote additional blooming.
If you live in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 10 and wish to try growing Persian buttercups as perennials, leave them in place and allow the foliage to die back naturally at summer's end. Dormant bulbs appreciate dry, cool conditions; too much moisture and warmth can cause rot. If you live outside of the plant’s hardiness zones, you can try digging up the bulbs and storing them in a cool spot indoors for winter covered in a dry medium, such as peat moss. However, successful storage is difficult, so many gardeners opt to grow these plants as annuals and replace them with new plants each year.
Persian buttercups prefer a planting site that gets full sun (at least six hours of sunlight on most days) to grow and bloom best. For indoor container plantings, choose a south-facing, sunny window.
These plants like to grow in sandy or loamy soil that has good drainage and a slightly acidic soil pH. If you have heavy soil, amend it with peat moss or plant in raised garden beds where you can control the soil makeup.
It's not necessary to soak the bulbs in water prior to planting to stimulate growth. But if you decide to soak don't overdo it; an overnight soak will be enough without encouraging mold growth. Water the bulbs well upon planting, and then withhold water until growth appears to avoid rot. Once the plants are established, they prefer moderately moist soil, so water only when the soil begins to dry out.
Temperature and Humidity
Persian buttercups prefer cool spring weather and will begin to go dormant once summer temperatures pass 90 degrees Fahrenheit. A layer of mulch around the plants can help to keep the roots cool and extend their growing period. They're not overly picky about humidity, though very high humidity can cause the bulbs to rot and kill the plant.
Mix some compost or bulb fertilizer into the soil of the planting site before planting your bulbs. Then, once leaves appear, fertilize the plants biweekly with a water-soluble fertilizer.
Persian Buttercup Varieties
There are multiple varieties of Persian buttercups that range in appearance, including:
- Ranunculus asiaticus 'Tecolote Red': This variety has deep red blooms that measure roughly 3 to 6 inches across.
- Ranunculus asiaticus 'Bloomingdale': These plants produce large flowers in several colors.
- Ranunculus asiaticus 'Café': This variety sports bronze-colored blooms.
- Ranunculus asiaticus 'Flamenco': These flowers are a mixture of yellow and orange with red around the edges.
- Ranunculus asiaticus 'Merlot': These plants can feature both deep red-purple flowers and white flowers.
Growing Persian Buttercup in Containers
Persian buttercups are often grown in containers, especially outside of their hardiness zones. To begin, use containers with ample drainage holes at the bottom. Fill a container with an all-purpose potting mix that drains well. Space the bulbs three to four inches apart if planting in the same container, and bury them about 2 inches deep in the soil. Water the bulbs well after planting, and place the container where it will receive full sun.
Several pests are drawn to Persian buttercups, including spider mites, leaf miners, and aphids. These pests will feed on the leaves and render them splotchy, withered, and with a yellowish-brown color. Keep aphids away by spraying the plant with a mixture of water and mild dish soap in a bottle.