I can’t remember when I fell in love with ranunculus, but it seems to be about the same time the rest of the U.S. did. So much for my dream of being a trend-setter. I started seeing them everywhere, from wedding bouquets to my farmer’s market flower stand.
Justine & Jessica, those lovely ladies over at Foxglove Brooklyn who gave us tips on buying sustainably sourced flowers, said the ranunculus craze fully formed about four years ago, and it’s still going strong. Jessica noted that they’re an alternative to that old classic, the rose, and while other blooms like orchids or tropical blossoms have had their moment in the glory of the wedding bouquet, the ranunculus isn’t fading as fast, continuing to hold its place in the hearts of hipsters, brides, and flower stands around the country.
The brighter the better for my house, as they add pops of color to my love of white bedding and collections of green plants. A potted bunch, an impulse buy at Trader Joes, grows on my front stoop, so that I have them both to cut and put in my kitchen, and to enjoy outside, as I sit with a book in the warm early spring sun. (Sorry to those who don’t live in Southern California!)
The name Ranunculus is Late Latin for “little frog,” perhaps, according to Wikipedia, for the fact that it thrives near water. (See? Everything about it is adorable.) If you’re looking to tell someone how you feel with flowers, and want replace the language of the rose (yellow for friendship, white for purity, orange for passion), Real Simple claims they mean “radiant with charm,” while Teleflora says that a bouquet of ranunculus states “I am dazzled by your charms.” I wouldn’t hate on that message delivered to my door.
A close relative of the buttercup, the common name for the ranunculus is the Persian Buttercup. But unlike its cousin, that ubiquitous buttercup you held under your chin as a child to find out if you love butter (and who doesn’t?) it’s not listed on weeds that will overtake your yard. A perfect addition to your cutting garden, plant the ranunculus in the fall to see spring flowers in March, and if you plant them now, you’ll have flowers in June and July, that last up to six weeks. According to Garden.org, “ranunculus are frost-hardy cool-season perennials. They perform best where winters are relatively mild and springs are long and cool. … [They] are most popular in the mild-winter regions of the South and West, in states such as California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana (USDA Hardiness Zones 8 through 11), where they grow best.”
When you’re buying your bulbs, go big. The “jumbo” choice, 2-3/4 to 3-1/8 inches in circumference, will produce up to 35 flowers for you to cut for your home, or to share. And if your yard isn’t ready for spring yet, you can plant them indoors, to transfer outside. Garden.org suggests you “place pots in a south- or west-facing window or under grow lights,” and to keep the temperature around 55°F. Once early spring has sprung, slowly introduce the potted plants outside, for increased increments of time, bringing them indoors at night.