Let's Talk Ranunculus 101

Jun 26, 2024

Let's Talk Ranunculus 101

Hey there,

A quick smile, spring is to flowers what summer is to food. The farmer’s market overrun with peaches and nectarines and cherries (oh my) come June, July, and early August? We get into that same metaflorical horn of plenty come Spring. What starts with paper whites and daffodils and tulips gives way to Farmgirl favorite, little sister to the peony: ranunculus! You know them, we love them, and if the annual stampede to get a farm fresh ranunculus bouquet delivered to yall’s doorstep is any indication, the feeling is mutual from all of you as well.

We’re talking all things ranuncs - from how these darlings are grown to the history behind them - and just incase you’re expecting a delivery of a bunch of these buttercups of your own, we’ve put together a few of our top tips and tricks for the care and styling of these extra photogenic cut stems. Let’s get to it!


How does your garden grow?

One common misconception about ranunculus is that, like many of their vase mates, they’re bulb flowers, when really they occur as corms. It’s a funny sounding word and, we promise you, looks even funnier in person (picture bananas ready for banana bread making) but for the average non-gardener/grower, the differences are minimal. Both bulbs and corms are essentially underground stems and get planted like seeds during specific times of year according to the hardiness of the flower they’ll produce and the weather.

Ranunculus can grow in a wide range of climates - as cool as zones 3/4 and up to zones 9/10. In warmer climates, the corms can be planted ahead of winter. In cooler climates, they’ll need to be protected in order to survive the chillier temperatures. If you’re planning on going all green thumb and growing your own ranunculus, we cannot overstate the resource that a local nursery will become. So many of the folks that work there are not just employees but avid gardeners themselves and will be all too happy to offer advice on how to get started! A quick google search will give you details on the closest one to you (and believe us, it’ll be worth it!).

Regardless of who’s growing them, ranunculus are another one of our favorite signs of warmer weather, generally popping up sometime after Valentine’s Day depending on the temps. That said, it’s possible to see them as early as January, and even earlier if they’ve been grown with some additional interventions such as hoop houses. Typically, the season will run into April and, if we’re lucky, as late as May (we miss them already!).


The History Behind The Name

These prolifically petaled stems take their name from their blooming season. “Rana” means frog in Latin while “unculus” is a suffix that forms the diminutive form of a noun (think -ita or -ito in Spanish). These “little frogs” are thought to have been named for their tendency to pop up near water sources as they bloom, much the same as their hoppy namesakes.


And The Category Is…

Belonging to the Ranunculaceae (or, less mothfully, buttercup) family, ranunculus are in good company with some other Farmgirl favorites. The flowers from this category have more main character energy with higher petal counts and foliage that run up the stems. Hellebore, clematis, and be-still-our-hearts anemones all also belong to the buttercup family. 

Within the ranunculus category itself, there are many variants. From Aazur to Elegance to Pon Pon to Cloni, the petal count, bloom size, petal shape, and color vary to produce a bloom that gives peonies a run for their money in terms of who is most photogenic.


TLC For Your Ranunculus Stems

As far as the usual suspects go at Farmgirl, ranunculus tends to be one of the heartier varieties you can care for at home. The general rules still apply of course. Keep these flower stems away from direct light and heat, make sure your vase is clean before styling, and change the vase water daily (or as often as you can). With good care, ranunculus should definitely last a week and with excellent care, some recipients may enjoy between 10-12 days of vase life!

When prepping your stems for the vase, it’s important to remove any foliage that will fall below the water line. Fully submerged in water, these leaves will die and cause a premature proliferation of bacteria in the vase water, preventing your flowers from getting a fresh drink. You’ll find that the foliage is easy to pull away - it reminds us a little of what you’ll see on celery stalks. Just pull up and away from the stem and it should come off easily. If you’re in doubt or if the stem seems particularly fragile, you can use your floral shears to remove as well. Just snip the leaf off close to where it’s growing off the stem.

One other thing to note about ranunculus is their tendency to produce laterals. Depending on their size and location on the stem, we may process (that’s a fancy floral word for remove) these from the stem prior to sending them, but sometimes we leave them on. They’re usually categorized by the tiny, green bud at the top of them. If your stems arrive with these on and you don’t care for the look of them, you can remove them much the same as foliage! If you like their look (like we do!), you can leave them on or remove them and style them separately with a more fully bloomed stem or two in a small bud vase. The greener buds will not open or bloom the same way as their colorful counterparts, but we love the whimsy and movement they add to arrangements!


Now That You’re Caught Up On The Ranunc-411…

We want to see how you make your Farmgirl deliveries a little home in your space! Tag us in a photo of your new ranuncs and use the hashtag #FGFlove on Instagram so we can see! Don’t have a delivery coming up? You can change that by shopping all farm fresh flower arrangements here (which are delivered straight to your doorstep, by the way!).



Team Farmgirl

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