Buttercup Flowers (Ranunculus): How to Grow and Care for Them

Ranunculus spp. It is a family of bright and attractive flowers that can be found in shades of yellow, red, orange, pink, white, and lavender.

Perhaps one of the significant reasons it got its name buttercup aside from the fact it does look like a cup filled with butter is the ancient folklore common in the southern regions. It was told that if you hold the ranunculus flower under your chin and it turns yellow, it means you like butter.

The genus ranunculus is a combination of flowers that grow in the wild and are often even considered weeds.

Buttercup flowers produce a bright yellow reflection that attracts lots of pollinators like butterflies and bees to your garden. This unique flower is also a magnet for the sun rays, which leads to more pollinators visiting the flower.

Buttercups are perennials with moderate cold resistance. They typically have five petals and are native to Europe, North and Central America, Asia, and Australia.

The attractive nature of the ranunculus plant has made it a popular flower among gardeners. Suppose you’re among its teeming fans or looking to join its praise singers. In that case, this guide will show you everything you need to know about growing and caring for buttercup flowers to breathe life into your landscape.

Before we go into that…

Let me show you some popular buttercup varieties you might be interested in growing.

Buttercup Flower Varieties

Over 400 ranunculus varieties grow in different shapes, sizes, and colors, with the average varieties growing up to 2 feet tall. In contrast, the smaller varieties can grow up to 10 inches tall.

1. Bulbous Buttercup (Ranunculus Bulbosus)

The bulbous buttercups are an average size ranunculus variety with fuller flowers. It can grow up to 16 inches tall and usually produce bright five-petal yellow flowers. Their foliage is without a stalk, and even though they can grow in sandy and dry areas, they prefer a more grassy and rich soil.

Bulbous Buttercup (Ranunculus Bulbosus)

2. Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus Acris)

The meadow buttercup type can be classified as a bigger ranunculus type as it can grow up to 3 feet tall. Their height has earned them the name “tall buttercups.” Despite their enormous height, their blooms only spread 1 inch. They are usually found in forest clearings and meadow areas.

Meadow Buttercup flower

3. Aconite Leaf Buttercup (Ranunculus Aconitifolius)

Unlike the meadow buttercup, the aconite leaf buttercup blooms will spread nearly as wide as its height of 2 feet. Their petals are snow-white, while their leaves are slightly hairy. You can find them growing almost everywhere, including mountains, streams, and meadows.

Aconite Leaf Buttercup white flower

4. California Buttercup (Ranunculus Californicus)

As the name implies, this buttercup variety is found all over California. They can also be found in parts of Oregon. They have glossier lemon-yellow petals, and unlike other buttercups, the California buttercup flower has between 9-17 petals.

California Buttercup flowers (Ranunculus Californicus)

Growing Conditions for Buttercup Flowers

Buttercups require full or partial shade to grow. When it comes to soil requirements, they are more particular, needing well-drained soil that is not heavy and too hot.

Hot soil can damage the flower, so extra care needs to be taken when planting in a hotter region. Things like mulch at the plant’s base or growing taller plants to produce partial shade will be required.

When to Plant Buttercup?

For optimum growth, you need to plant buttercups at the right time, but when is the right time?

The best time to plant buttercup depends on your zone. In zones 8-11, they are winter hardy, so the best time to plant them to get flowers during the spring is fall. If you’re in zones 4-7, the corms can be planted in spring to get flowers during the summer since they’re regarded as annuals here.

How Long Does Buttercup Take to Grow?

How to Plant and Grow Buttercup

Buttercups are perennials and usually do not produce flowers in their first year, depending on species. After its first year, it can flower for up to 10 years and about 6 weeks yearly.

Even though few varieties can last up to 10 years, you’ll get several flowering years from most of the buttercups.

Preparation

There are a few things to do in preparation for planting buttercups. These things may vary slightly depending on which part you choose to grow. Buttercups can be grown from seeds, rhizomes, tubers, and even from its fibrous roots.

  • Choose the variety: the first thing you should do is choose the buttercup variety you would love to grow. Your choice here should be based on your location and personal preference. 
  • Choose the buttercup part to grow: the part of the buttercup you choose to plant will guide you on what to prepare. You can choose from the fibrous root, seeds, rhizomes, and tubers.
  • Select a suitable location: you need a location that satisfies its light, soil, and weather requirements.
  • Clear the site: remove weed, clear fallen leaves, and debris from the area.

How to Plant and Grow Buttercup Flower?

After preparation, you can now focus on planting buttercups the right way. Here, I’ll show you how to grow buttercup without hitches.

plant buttercup flowers

Buttercups can be grown from seeds or roots. However, growing from seeds is a tedious process that has put off a lot of gardeners to only grow from roots.

Here’s a quick guide to growing from seeds

Growing from Seeds

  • Sow the seeds in nursery trays in spring or fall, depending on your zone
  • Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. You do not want to suffocate them and make germination difficult
  • Cover in plastic
  • Refrigerate for 3 weeks while watering lightly
  • After 3 weeks, remove from the refrigerator and replace plastic with a glass cover. Keep in a shaded area
  • Transplant to the selected site once seedlings start to appear.

Growing from Roots

This is the common growing part used by gardeners. It is easier and takes a shorter time to establish. You can simply get the roots from garden stores near you. Buttercup can be planted in your garden, as border plants, or even in containers, especially in colder regions.

  • Dig holes about 2 inches deep and as wide as the bulb
  • Place the bulb in the ground with roots pointing downward
  • Cover the hole with soil
  • Space each buttercup at least 12 inches away from each other
  • Water generously

How to Care for Buttercup Flower?

Buttercup flower is easy to care for, requiring basic maintenance to grow. To continue to get beautiful flowers yearly, you need to maintain your buttercup plant properly.

Thankfully, most of its maintenance requirements are general care tips for most flowers.

Care for Buttercup Flower

Water Regularly

Buttercups need moist soil to grow properly. To ensure the soil never completely dries out, water regularly. Remember, you want the soil to be moist and not cloggy.

Fertilize 

Fertilize your plant with an all-purpose fertilizer or compost. Ensure not to put the fertilizer directly on the stem to avoid damaging the plant. Water the site thoroughly to encourage the quick utilization of fertilizer.

Mulch

Mulching is important to keep the soil cool and reduce the loss of water from the soil through evaporation. Mulching is essential in hotter areas. You can mulch with tree barks or cocoa hulls.

Deadhead Expired Flowers

Removing spent flowers by hand or clipping them just below the flower head will encourage more flowers and prolong the blooming season.

Discontinue Watering After Blooming Season

After the blooming season has passed, usually around late spring, stop watering the plant. At this time, the plant must have stopped flowering and its leaves turning yellow.

Dig Out the Plant or Leave it in the Ground

This decision is dependent on the water content in the ground after their blooming season. If you live in regions with minimal rainfall and the soil is dry, you can leave the plant in the ground, where it’ll continue to grow the next season.

However, if you cannot guarantee the soil will remain dry, you should remove the plant and store it in a dry place. Clip the leaves before storing. You can then replant after the frost.

Pests and Diseases

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Birds

Diseases

  • Powdery mildew
  • Root rot

Summary

Buttercup Flower (Ranunculus) is a popular ornamental plant with minimal maintenance requirements. When properly handled, you have very few pests and diseases to worry about.

Buttercup will give you up to 10 years of flowering bliss with minimal effort. What are you waiting for? Select a variety and start growing your buttercup flower.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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