The pleasant spring days are dwindling and will soon be another echo of a past season. With the cold spring that captivated our area this last year, some of the more tender blooms are hanging in the garden, though technically past their season. I’m specifically referring to the “rose of the spring,” my fickle (yet endearing) friend the ranunculus.
In the high desert we definitely are faced with many gardening challenges, a sudden late frost can wipe out your tomato plants and zinnias. A sudden heat wave can cause premature blooming and fading of your anemones and tulips. Yes, it can be frustrating gardening in the high desert. Ranunculus is a prime example of a difficult flower to conquer growing in our area. When successful, she graces us with such delicate beauty that is reminiscent of frilly petticoat dresses. There is never enough fluff when it comes to flowers!
When combing your garden centers in the fall, don’t be fooled by them advertising ranunculus as easy-to-grow fall planted flowers! They are not cold-hardy like tulips or daffodils by any means. They are native to the Mediterranean which has a fairly temperate climate. Alas, our climate is very different from that of the Mediterranean climate. Our weather has crazy mood swings and ranunculus are not big fans of those. They like pleasant seventy-degree weather and nights without freezing temperatures, wouldn’t we all love that though?
At Sierra Flower Farm, we grow everything in the field. We have a tiny greenhouse for pampering seedlings and then we boot them into the elements. That plan would not have ended with a successful crop of ranunculus. We built low tunnels, also known as “caterpillar tunnels" to protect and keep the ranunculus at a cozy temperature. On the especially cold nights, we had flash lights in hand and tucked the plant babies in with a warm blanket, known as frost cloth.
The actual planting of ranunculus is pretty effortless and a lot of them can fit close together. We have very limited growing space and cannot afford to waste it, therefore, much like what we did with the anemones, we pre-sprouted the corms and then let them grow some in the greenhouse. Only the healthiest of them had the honor of getting nestled into our garden space. This method requires some extra effort but rewards us with many more flowers.
Unfortunately, as the valley is getting snowed by the cottonwoods instead of the sky, the time for the ranunculus are coming to their end. The window of them gracing us with their beauty is a fleeting one, there is not such thing as too many ranunculus in my books!
They are beautiful and make long-lasting cut flowers. If you have conquered growing ranunculus, reward yourself with a bouquet of them! As with any flower the key to harvesting them is at the right stage and during the coolest parts of the day. Ranunculus like to be harvested when their buds are colored and they feel squishy as a marshmallow. Once harvested, into the cooler they go, which is set about thirty-eight to forty degrees fahrenheit.
If taken care of properly, these beauties often provide a seven day vase life!
I realize, I framed these guys are pretty tough to grow. They are and they are not but either way they definitely are showstoppers worthy of extra TLC! Keep your eyes peeled, soon I will be launching a blog and video series of how to successfully grow ranunculus and anemones!
The series I am working on will be great for hobbyists and ambitious flower farmers alike!