Friday, August 10, 2012
Ranunculus, get 'em in bud
Ranuncs are one of my favourite Spring flowers. Genuine Spring flowers too, brief and vibrant. The colours are crayon bold. Not everyone's taste admittedly but I'm one of thiose that loves the crispness & purity heralding warm weather.
When I started working in the nursery we sold Ranuncs as seedlings but they are shockers to germinate and grow on so I eventually gave up. Last year we grabbed a tray of seed grown plugs from a surplus list (I'm happy to let someone else go through the pain of raising this seed) and potted up a small batch that we grew from start to finish under light shade cloth, they love the cold. We plant our Ranunculus in April and they are just budding now, apart form that they don't need a great deal of attention. They certainly don't appear to attract bugs or diseases. Anyway despite putting a shiver through the unbelievers as the bulk of the plants approached peak flowering while still in the nursery the batch we grew last year sold down to the last pot or two. Of course we want to ship them in bud, they are less likely to get damaged and are easier to handle. i also think they offer greater shelf life in the garden centre and give the gardener the pleasure of watching the full flower cycle.
Ranunculus is a true herbaceous perennial, it will flower in spring like Daffodils then die backthrough Autumn. Under the soil the plant has produced a crown, something akin to a skeletal cats claw. These can be left to regrow or lifted to divide and multiply the plants. I haven't tried this, too much messing around for a production nursery, we just treat them as annuals. The flowering period is brief and exciting but relative to a bunch of flowers a potted Ranunculus gives a great show for a long time. They can be taken indoors but I find the flowers shatter and die off more quickly than when left in a cool sheltered position.