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How to grow ranunculus in South Africa

How to grow ranunculus in South Africa

Ah, the ranunculus, the darling of the spring garden! You may know them as ranonkels, ranuncs, or even, Persian buttercups but let’s be real, you could call them Fred and they would still be fabulous. These floral superstars bring their A-game to your garden, whether they are sitting cosy in containers or throwing a full on fiesta in flower beds. Their rosette-like blooms are perfect for brightening up your garden or making a vase look like it got a visit from the Petal Pixies. 

So, whether you’re a proud ranunculus parent, a hopeful planter, or just someone with garden dreams, here’s your guide to growing gorgeous blooms. Get ready to unleash some serious garden magic, with our guide on How to Grow Ranunculus in South Africa. 

Flower name meaning and symbolism 

The name "ranunculus" comes from the Latin words 'rana,' meaning ‘frog’, and 'unculus’, meaning ‘little’. You may be wondering what these beautiful flowers have in common with amphibians. Well, they thrive near streams and other bodies of water just like our ribbeting friends. Don’t worry though, you don't need a pond in your garden to keep them happy and blooming!

Come spring, these dazzling beauties leap into a riot of colour. They symbolise charm, attractiveness, and beauty, making them the perfect choice for almost any occasion. Whether you’re gifting them, using them for winter or spring time celebrations, or just looking to beautify your home, ranunculus has got you covered.

What month is best to plant ranunculus?

Ranunculus are tuberous roots that should be planted anytime from April to early June. They are available for preorder on from February and are delivered to customers all over South Africa from late March. You can also purchase them from your local nursery, retailer or garden centre during planting time. 

Where is the best place to plant ranunculus bulbs?

Ranunculus perform best in a position that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. 

Do I need to pre-soak my bulbs?

There is absolutely no need to pre-soak your ranunculus bulbs. They should be planted directly into soil. 

When do they flower?

Ranunculus show off their bright and bold blooms anytime between July and September, depending on when they were planted. They generally bloom around 90 days after planting, and will continue to flower for around 4 – 6 weeks. Talk about long-lasting beauty. 

How to plant and care for ranunculus 

Spoil your ranonkels with humus rich, well-draining soil, which errs on the side of slightly moist, and water them regularly to ensure a bumper display. Plant them with the claws facing down. If you’re potting them up, ensure you use a good quality potting medium and make sure there is proper drainage and that the water doesn’t stagnate in the saucer. In containers you can water them every 2-3 days until water runs out the bottom. In beds, water them every 3-4 days for 10 minutes, provided it hasn’t rained. 

A very important part of growing happy and healthy ranunculus is to mulch with a layer of compost. This helps feed the soil and regulates the soil temperature. 

Ranunculus, like many other winter bulbs, can take up to 8 weeks to sprout. It is the cold weather that activates their root growth, and only once their roots are established, do they sprout. While you may not see any signs of growth in the first few weeks, there is important underground activity taking place. The roots grow first, and it is this unseen growth that results in the exciting emergence of sprouts.  

Just remember, that like humans, bulbs can also grow at their own pace. So, relax while you allow their journey of growth to unfold.

When your plants are established watch out for yellowing leaves that may indicate over-watering or poor drainage. You don’t want the blooming party to be ruined. 

Once your spring stunners are done blooming, you can discard the plants. Obtaining new tubers the following year will give better results. However, if you would like to keep them, only lift when the foliage dies back naturally. This will indicate dormancy. The tubers can be lifted and stored in a cool and dry place, such as a garage or cupboard. 


How to cut ranunculus for the vase

Ranunculus aren’t just filler flowers in the garden, vase, or bouquet—they’re the stars of the show! These beauties can hold their own, and the more you cut their stems, the more buds they produce. Snip them when the buds are showing colour but haven’t fully opened. In a vase, they can last up to seven days without flower food and even longer with it. For super long-lasting blooms, try using Chrysal Cut Flower Food. So, go ahead and cut away—your garden and vase will thank you!

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