Ranunculus asiaticus is a perennial that is also known to many as the Asian buttercup, Persian buttercup or Persian crowfoot. This ornamental plant adorns many gardens in warmer climates, though they are also planted in cooler locations as annuals. Its natural habitat includes northern Africa, western Asia and southeastern Europe, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Ranunculus asiaticus flowers come in a bright array of orange, pink, red, white and yellow blossoms.
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Ranunculus asiaticus plants grow to a height of approximately 18 inches, according to the Michigan State University Extension. The colourful flowers somewhat resemble camellias or small peony blooms. The flowers reach a size of 3 to 6 inches, with multiple petal layers. Flowers generally bloom in early spring and work well as cut flowers.
These flowers grow best in warmer, temperate zones. This includes zone 8 through 10 on the USDA's plant hardiness zone map, covering the southern and southeastern portions of the US, along with much of the western coast. Naturally perennials, ranunculus Asiatic plants also grow as annuals outside their preferred zones and are sometimes used as potted plants in colder regions.
Ranunculus asiaticus plants are usually grown from tubers which are planted in the fall. These tubers resemble bananas and appear dry and hard. However, they soften as they absorb moisture. Plant tubers 1 to 2 inches in depth with the fingers pointed downward in full sun to partial shade. Space large tubers at a rate of one per every square foot; smaller tubers may be placed 4 inches apart, according to the University of California Cooperative Extension. If tubers are to be used in pots, plant only one to two of them in a 10-inch container. Soak tubers for one hour before planting or water well and apply mulch to retain the moisture immediately after planting. Do not water again until shoots appear within two to three weeks, or the tubers may rot.
Ranunculus asiaticus plants are also available as bedding plants at many nurseries throughout the fall. Planting should be done in late fall for early spring blooms. During the blooming period, you can pinch off fading flowers to encourage more blooming. When the plant stops flowering, the leaves will begin to yellow and the foliage should then be left to die back. Watering should also stop at this time.
In areas where this plant grows only as an annual, the tubers may be dug up and replanted. Dig the plants up once the foliage turns yellow and cut off the top portion. After allowing the roots to dry for approximately one week, store them in a cool, dry place until it is time to replant them. Michigan State University Extension suggests storing the tubers in, "sand or peat in a frost free place."
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- United States Department of Agriculture: Ranunculus asiaticus information
- Michigan State University Extension: Ranunculus asiaticus
- University of California Cooperative Extension: Master Gardener Newspaper Articles
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- Harvard University: Plant Hardiness-Zone Maps