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How to Plant Ranunculus

Ranunculus bulbs are odd things. They arrive looking dried out and dead. They have a flat top with numerous claws or legs hanging down. In fact, they look quite a bit like multi-legged spiders. But these odd looking bulbs can produce amazing technicolor flowers, that is if you can get them to bloom. Proper planting and planting at the proper time for the zone (growing area) you live in is essential for your ranunculus bulbs to produce their amazing rose-like flowers. Ranunculus bulbs are hardy in zones 8 through 10. In lower zones (1 through 7) they must be lifted and replanted yearly.

Planting Ranunculus in the Garden

Plant ranunculus in early to mid fall in zones 8 through 10 and in early spring after all threat of frost has passed in zones 1 through 7.

Choose a spot in full sun with well-drained soil. Place near other spring blooming flowers like snapdragons, larkspur or tulips.

Dig 3 to 4 inches of compost or well-rotted manure into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil at the planting site.

Plant ranunculus 2 inches deep. Place the bulb with the "points" or "claws" facing down and the "eyes" facing up. Space the bulbs 4 to 12 inches apart depending on variety.

Give your bulb 3 to 4 inches of water or water until the water pools on top of the soil and it takes 1 minute for the soil to absorb the pooled water. Bulbs will sprout in 15 to 20 days.

Planting Ranunculus in Pots.

Plant ranunculus in pots in 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost. Store the pots in a garage, basement or outbuilding where temperatures will not fall below freezing.

Fill the bottom 1/3 of a container with gravel or small stones. This increases water drainage.

Mix a general purpose potting soil with perlite until you have a 2/3 soil, 1/3 perlite mix. Fill your container to the top with this mix.

Plant ranunculus 2 inches deep. Make sure the "claw" is facing down. Space bulbs 4 to 5 inches apart.

Water the container until water runs out of the bottom drainage holes.


Gardeners with short growing season should grow ranunculus in containers as bulbs won't have time to sprout and produce flowers before warm summer temperatures arrive.

Ranunculus bulbs produce the best flowers if they have a 6 to 8 week cool (under 75 degrees F) growing season.

You don't need to soak the ranunculus bulbs prior to planting. Watering after planting will cause the bulbs to plump up.


Ranunculus bulbs will rot if left in poorly drained soil.

Gardeners in zones 7 and below will need to lift and store their ranunculus bulbs in late summer.

Don't remove the ranunculus foliage after flowering as the bulb stores the energy the foliage produces through photosynthesis. This energy is what keeps the bulb viable while it is dormant.

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