The origin of asian buttercups (or asian ranunculus) is Anatolia. The plant was named by a roman naturalist Pliny, ages ago. He noticed that buttercups prefer to grow on the swampy ground, and called them ranunculus that in Latin means “a frog”.
In Italy people call buttercups 'golden buttons of meadows'. There is a beautiful legend about them, saying that buttercups are the little stars that Jesus turned into flowers for his mother, in sign of love and honor.
Later, in the XVI century, ranunculus was imported to the UK from Turkey, and has immediately captured the hearts of british gardeners. Today we know about 600 varieties of buttercups.
In a vase with water buttercups stay fresh for almost 2 weeks, so they are popularly being grown as cut flowers.
The flowers of asian buttercups are gorgeous. You can grow them oudoors in the garden or indoors in pots decorating rooms, terraces or balconies. The length of asian buttercup depends on its variety, they can be from 20 to 80 cm tall. The shape of a ranunculus' bulb looks much like a goose-foot. Generally, rhizomes, leaves and stems of asian buttercups are very similar to dahlia.
The flowers of ranunculus are 5 to 10 cm large, double or semi-double and can be found in any tone, except for blue. Their blooming period lasts from May to August. When the blooms just start opening, they look much like roses. When fully opened, they remind of peony poppy flowers. Tender and chic white and pink asian buttercups are often used for creating bride bouquets.
Important to know that juice of the ranunculus plant is poisonous, especially for dogs.
Commonly cultivated asian buttercups originally have two species: Ranunculus Persian (similar to a rose) and Ranunculus Africanus (similar to peony).
Asian buttercup grows in the garden perfectly even in the direct sunlight, although it will still prefer a site with the half-shade and protected from drafts. There it will bloom longer and have more intense colour of flowers. Before planting, assure that there will be no more frosts.
Choose the light, rich and neutral soil. You can for example use black earth mixed with sand and humus, or limed peat. Do not use clayey soil for ranunculuses.
It's important that the growing medium soaks up water well, but the same time doesn't let the water stagnate. So don't forget to create a good layer of drainage to be sure that your plants won't get rotten. The easiest drainage system is to put some sand on the bottom of a planting hole.
Right before you start planting, turn over the soil of the flower bed, add a composted fertilizer and apply a fungicide solution onto the ground.
To cultivate asian ranunculus from seed is not an easy job. Since the germinating ability of buttercup's seeds is pretty low, don't put high hopes on this method. But if you are ready for such an experiment, we are here to help you with our knowledge.
When the ground is warm enough, and there are no more frosts expected, it's the good time for planting ranunculus rhizomes. It's quite an easy process, but you need to keep in mind a few important details.
How to plant ranunculus?
There is nothing difficult about handling of asian buttercups outdoors.
Water it regularly but moderately: like this you will protect roots from rotting. The first signs of rotting roots are mold on the foliage and loss of flower buds. If it happens, remove the affected parts of the plant, loosen the soil around the stem and reduce watering.
Regularly remove wilted flowers from your ranunculus.
Regularly loosen the soil around buttercups and fertilize them with potash fertilizer (40-50 g per 1 m²) once in two weeks, and with potash salt, potassium sulphate or wood ash during their blooming period.
When the summer is dry, you asian buttercups can be attacked by red spider mites. The foliage of ranunculus is attractive for plant lice and thrips. If you notice silver or white spots on the leaves of your buttercup, treat it with insecticide. To prevent insect attacks, spray asian buttercups with 0.2 % solution of mercaptophos.
Growing asian buttercup in your balcony isn't more difficult than in the garden. Flower gardeners recommend planting indoor ranunculus in groups.
Take a flower tray or a wide pot with drainage holes to plant your buttercups in. Use the same soil mix that you would use for planting ranunculuses in the garden: a peat based growing medium.
Before planting, put rhizomes in water for 24 hours. On the bottom of a tray or pot place a layer of drainage (chip stone, eggshell or bloating clay), then a layer of soil, then the rhizomes and cover it with more soil, so only the top parts of rhizomes stay visible. Water the rhizomes, and keep them at the temperature of 12 °C before they shoot first sprouts. Moisten the soil from time to time.
When the sprouts are a few centimeters tall, you can raise the temperature up to 20-22 °C. During the blooming period of asian buttercup, the temperature needs to stay at 18 °C. When growing in the environment with the higher air temperature, ranunculus has a very short blooming period.
It's important to provide indoor asian buttercups with good lighting. They feel good and bloom well when placed at a window in the eastern or western parts of your house, but they will bloom greatly if you find for them a spot next to a window in the southern part of your house. When it's warm outside, you can move the pot with your ranunculuses in the open balcony.
Water the plants regularly, but assure that the soil isn't overmoistened. Once a while spray them with water. Reduce watering after the flowers have withered.
In the Fall you need to dig up ranunculus' rhizomes. Growing them didn't seem to be difficult, and digging up and storing buttercups' rhizomes are very easy processes as well.
When the leaves of your asian buttercups get yellow and dry, cut off the foliage and carefully dig up the fragile rhizomes.
Actually, ranunculus is a perennial plant, but it can't survive frosts. At the temperature lower than -7 °C it will simply die. So if you live in a cold region, store the rhizomes over winter in a paper bag or dry moss at the temperature of 4-6 °C.
Before storing the rhizomes, put them for 30 min in a fungicide solution and let it dry in the shade for 3 days.
If you don't have cold winters in your region, don't dig up the rhizomes, leave them in the ground. Just cover the garden bed with dry leaves or fir twigs.
After your indoor asian buttercup stopped blooming, place it into a cool, shady room where it will still grow for a while, and then go on its dormant period. You will be able to notice it easily: the foliage will get yellow and dry.
Transplant your buttercup into a pot with new soil and put it in the room with air temperature of 15-18 °C. The dormant period of asian buttercap lasts for about a month, and already in April you will see new sprouts popping up.
Every rhizome shoots 5-7 new sprouts during its vegetation. When you dig up rhizomes you need to divide them carefully and plant, or just keep in the basement or the bottom part of your fridge until the spring. Although, you need to know that with every year your ranunculus will become weaker and bloom less, so it's really better just to buy new rhizomes next year.