Ranunculus, the Rose of the Spring…
We are all excitedly unwrapping our parcels of little brown ranunculus corms.
When they arrive, they are dormant in a dried and dehydrated state.
This does make them fragile so the first thing to do is to re-hydrate them, this ‘starts’ them!
Once rehydrated they need to be pre-spouted straight away so I tend to do this in batches…
You can keep the rest of your corms cool and dry and even place them in the bottom of the fridge to hold them for longer before ‘starting them’. I’ve kept corms for as long as a year in the ‘salad crisper’ of my fridge (no lower than 4 degrees).
You can plant your Ranunculus either in the Autumn or the Spring.
We find that Autumn grown plants bloom up to 6 weeks earlier than Spring grown corms but we do give them a light cloche or grow them in the polytunnel to give added protection from the worst of the winter weather.
Why not stagger your corms and do a trial to see what works best for your location?
We soak our corms at room temperature for around 3 hours
The advice is to ‘leaving the water running just slightly during the process to help provide extra oxygen’ we don’t do this as we don’t like to waste water and find that just adding a splash more water to the bowl once or twice has not caused any problems.
As the corms soak, you will be thrilled to notice that they plump up to 2-3 times their original size and now resemble a ‘fat’ little octopus!
Now these precious corms (along with Anemones) are like caviar to Squirrels and Mice so we pre-sprout ours indoors rather putting out a ‘Hamper’ for the wildlife!!
Presprouting the corms before planting will also give plants a jump start (just like Sweetpeas) and you’ll have flowers a few weeks earlier.
To presprout, fill a flat-bottom seed tray halfway full of moist compost or as I prefer to do use the large 15 cell Plant Trays.
I plant one corm to each cell, this is just my personal preference so I don’t have to rush to move them to their final planting position and I often ‘over winter’ in these trays…
Leave labelled tray’s in a cool place (4-10 degrees is ideal) where rodents can’t reach for 10-14 days. Be careful that you don’t overwater at this stage.
You are most likely to loose them if you over water so keep the soil moist but not wet.
Once plants show signs of growth you can move them to their final positions or leave them to develop in their trays.
If leaving them in their trays for an extended period apply a seaweed feed when the plants are actively growing.
Once temperatures plunge the plants will stop growing and suspend until the Spring.
During very cold periods where the temperature dips below freezing, cover the plants with a layer of Horticultural fleece (frost cloth) and don’t water or feed them.
Keep an eye on those planted in Tunnels (Hoops Houses) the temperature can soar on fine days and they don’t have the benefit of rain so open doors whenever the conditions allow to give ventilation.
Autumn planted corms flower in early spring (April for us) and continue steadily for approx 8 weeks.
Spring planted Ranunculus normally starts to flower about 90 days after planting.
Ranunculus have a brilliant vase life often exceeding 10 days!
Brides love them in their bouquets, giving that round Rose shape before the Roses flower.
They also score highly for personal flowers that need to last out of water such as Buttonholes and Flower Crowns.
Cut when buds are at the marshmallow stage, fully coloured up but not fully open for the longest vase life.
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