Im not sure whether its by fate or sheer coincidence that 3 of our favourite flowers (and yours!) all bloom at the same time, but no one can deny that the pairing of Peonies, Ranunculus, and Anemones is anything short of perfection. Maybe its the fact that they are some of our first flowers to burst after a long winter's waiting that make them extra special, or perhaps it's the rows and rows of perfect petals in every shade you could desire. Whatever it is, we can never grow enough of them! While the growing process may seem intimidating at first, its actually quite straightforward. Ranunculus and Anemones thrive in cool spring weather, which makes them the perfect addition to any Northern Garden!
Remove your corms from their packaging and laugh at those ugly little octopus' and poop looking nuggets can turn into such gorgeous flowers. When dry like this, they are in their dormant state, and can be stored in a cool dry space until ready to be started. Both plants can handle lots of light frosts, but need to be protected if temperatures dip below zero, as -4°C can cause them to fully freeze and turn to mush. In our northern climate, They are best planted outside about 4 weeks before last frost, and are happiest when growing below temperatures of 18°C, as they will go dormant once the temperature hits 20°C. Begin the presprouting process about 6 weeks before your last frost date (or 8 weeks if you have a protected location that's not too hot to grow them out in until you can plant them outside!)
Step 1 - Activate
The first step to waking your corms up is to soak them in room temperature water for 4-6 hours. As they soak they will plump up, doubling in size. Be sure not to soak for too long. If a few legs have broken off of your Ranunculus, don't worry- it wont affect them.
Step 2 - Presprout
To presprout, fill a flat-bottom seed tray half full of moist potting soil. Place the corms crown side up (legs/points down), and cover them with more soil so that they are completely covered. Leave this tray in a cool dark place 4°C-10°C for 10 to 14 days in an area where rodents can’t find it. Ranunculus corms are like candy to rodents! Check on the corms every few days, making sure the soil is moist but not soggy, and remove any that show signs of mold or rot.
During this time, corms will develop white rootlets and start to send up light green shoots. Once that starts happening they are ready to plant out. If temperatures are still freezing, you can pot them up and grow out in a protected area such as a greenhouse, cool bootroom under a grow light, or in your brightest windows if necessary, but try not to keep them in a warm room. 10°-15° degrees is ideal!
Step 3 - Planting
Once the weather is right for planting out, harden off your corms for a couple of days, getting them accustomed to the outdoor temperatures before planting them. Choose a well drained location. As Ranunculus and Anemones like cool weather, you can pick a semi shaded location to help prolong their bloom window. Keep in mind when choosing a location, that large rocks or pavement will act as a heat sink, whereas planting them beside a shrub will provide cooling dappled shade. Plant at 6" spacing, 2" depth.
Step 4 - Enjoy!
Depending on weather conditions, our first blooms usually start arriving mid June, and will last until mid July, then die back and go dormant. Sometimes we even get a second flush of blooms at the end of August/beginning of September! Both Anemones and Ranunculus make exceptional Cut Flowers. If harvested when just opened, they will last well over a week; Ranunculus up to 2 weeks! As you can see below, my kids can never resist bringing me the first few buds that appear- the first stems are always hilariously short, but blooms that follow will grow taller.
These flowers will always hold a special place in my heart and in my garden, and I hope they find space in yours too.