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Ranunculus flowers are usually sold and planted as rhizomes. Sometimes these are mistakenly referred to as bulbs or tubers. The plants are native to South America. Plant the ranunculus rhizomes one and a half to two inches in well-drained soil, with the tips of the rhizomes pointing down. Cover with soil. Water well. During the growing season, the plants can be fed once with fish emulsion or other organic liquid fertiliser when the flower buds appear.
Where Ranuculus Grows
Ranuculus rhizomes will survive in USDA growing zones 8 and above. These are cool-weather plants that are planted in the fall. They begin to grow in the late fall and bloom in late spring. The plants die back after blooming. They can be grown with heavy mulch and protection in warmer areas of zone 7. In zones colder than USDA zone 6, plant the ranunculus rhizomes in pots in late winter or directly in the ground after danger of hard frost has passed. Treat them as annual summer flowers. To save the rhizomes over the winter, dig them up and store them indoors in a cool dry place.
How Ranuculus Flowers Grow
The rhizomes store food for the plant until the growing conditions are met. After receiving six to eight weeks of weather where the nights are between -1.11 and 10 degrees Celsius, the rhizomes will start to grow. The ideal growing temperatures are between 7.22 and 15.6 degrees C. Stems will start to appear and push through the ground. As long as the temperatures remain above freezing, the plants will continue to grow. Leaves will start to unfold as the stems straighten. The unfolding leaves provide food for the plant. They convert sunlight to sugars and starches through a process called photosynthesis. After flowers have appeared and died back, the ranunculus plant goes dormant. The leaves and stems will gradually turn yellow and this allows the plant to store food for dormancy in the rhizomes. A hard frost will kill the plants.
Reproduction of Ranuculus Flowers
The plant continues to grow and flowers form. When fertilisation in the flowers takes place, the flower dies and a seed head is formed. These seeds can be used to produce more plants. Gardeners usually remove the spent flowers before the seed head forms. This allows better rhizome production and does not drain resources from the plant. Commercially, ranunculus flowers are propagated by rhizome divisions. As the plant grows, more rhizomes are produced. These are part of the root system. Each section of rhizome is capable of producing a plant. It is possible to grow a ranunculus plant from even a tiny piece of the rhizome.