Persian Buttercup

With paper-thin petals layered like a French pastry, the vibrant colors of Ranunculus asiaticus bring a sweet flush of elegance to the garden in early spring. The cool-season perennial comes in a dizzying array of cheerful hues, from bisque white to velvety dark red.

The Ranunculus genus includes more than 400 flowering plants, but the Persian buttercup is the species that has been the most extensively cultivated for use in ornamental gardens and by florists. It’s no wonder why: Despite a delicate appearance, the rose-like flowers bloom for up to seven weeks a year, and the cut stems can last more than a week in bouquets.

Persian Buttercup
Ranunculus Trivia

Typically found in wetlands or near bodies of water, the name ranunculus means “little frog” from the Latin words for frog, “rana,” and little, “unculus.” A native of Mediterranean regions of Southwest Asia, Europe, and northeastern Africa, the Persian buttercup was first introduced to Europe in the 16th century and is sometimes referred to as a turban buttercup.

Some flowers have many different meanings, but the ranunculus has only one: charm and attractiveness. In Victorian flower language, to give someone a ranunculus was to tell them that you found them physically attractive and had fallen for their charms.

Persian Buttercup

Unlike many flowers favored by florists, the ranunculus is not strongly scented, making it a favorite in arrangements for folks with sensitive noses who dislike overwhelming floral fragrances.

Uses for Ranunculus

Persian buttercups are one of the most popular of all cut flowers in the world, but they were once prized for more than their beauty. Native Americans used the plant parts in poultices that were supposed to remove warts and treat muscle aches. In Europe, it is still used in some homeopathic applications, despite a lack of scientific evidence supporting its use to treat ailments.

A note of caution: Ranunculus species are all toxic to humans and animals. Consuming any part of the plant can cause abdominal pain and sickness. Even coming into contact with broken stems and leaves can result in rashes or blisters. So, it is best to wear gloves when cutting stems and to make sure children and pets keep their distance.

Persian Buttercup
Popular Ranunculus Varieties
Persian Buttercup
Can I Grow Persian Buttercups Successfully?

Persian buttercups are fairly easy to grow, if you have the right conditions. These beauties thrive in places with mild winters and long, cool springs. However, they can still be grown as annuals in less ideal climates. Choose a sunny planting location with rich, well-drained soil.

Ranunculus can be cultivated from seed, but are more commonly grown from something known as a corm, which looks like a claw. Soak the corms for a few hours to hydrate them before planting. Good drainage is a must, so if your soil is heavy clay, you’ll want to amend and loosen the soil or plant in a container. Place the corms two inches deep and six inches apart with the claw side down. Water well when planting and then let them be. You should have growth in 90 days.

Persian Buttercup

For an early spring bloom season lasting six to seven weeks, plant ranunculus corms in the fall. Planting in late winter will produce four to six weeks of flowers beginning in mid-spring. Applications of water-soluble fertilizer will promote robust growth. For long-lasting cut flowers, cut the stems when the flowers are still in bud but beginning to show color.

Size: 10”-24” (25-60 cm) tall

Hardiness: USDA Hardiness Zones 3-11(but must be overwintered indoors in zones 3-7)

Light Duration: Full sun

Soil: Moist, well-drained clay, loam, or sand

Blooming Time: Spring to Summer