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Ranunculus and anemones make great additions to any spring garden. With their wide range of color and ruffled petals- these flowers are such a treat to enjoy!
Truth be told- while I have long adored these early spring blooms, it wasn’t until more recently that I started growing them myself. For years I avoided growing ranunculus + anemones as I was intimated by the process…
As is the case with most things, once I learned more about the growing conditions required for ranunculus + anemones to thrive- I realized that the process is, in fact, pretty straightforward.
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at growing ranunculus + anemones, but had no clue where to start- this blog post is for you!
Below I’m sharing everything you need to know to grow these early spring crops in your own gardens.
Ranunculus and anemones are grown from corms. As you’ll likely notice when you receive your corms- ranunculus corms resemble small, brown octopuses; and anemone corms look similar to shriveled acorns.
If you haven’t yet purchased corms- know that corms are widely available for purchase during the fall months, and for best selection, I encourage you to buy corms then (psst- we will have corms available for purchase as part of our fall bulb sale- so check back here later in the year, if you’re interested in growing the same varieties we do!).
While we purchase our corms in the fall, here where I live in West Michigan (Zone 5b)- it’s too cold for us to fall-plant our corms and so we simply store them until we’re ready for them in the spring.
If you’re in a similar situation where your corms arrive to you in the fall, but you don’t plan on growing them til spring- no worries! Both ranunculus and anemone corms are shipped in a dormant + dry state. Simply keep your corms in their original package and store them in a cool, dry place (preferably out of direct sunlight) til you’re ready for them.
When to Plant Ranunculus and Anemone Corms:
Perhaps the most confusing part of growing ranunculus and anemones is knowing when to start them.
Both ranunculus and anemones thrive under cool conditions. That’s why it’s best to grow these flowers during the earliest parts of spring when temperatures are still cool.
Though ranunculus and anemones are delicate-looking when in bloom- don’t let their appearance fool you. These plants are incredibly tolerant to cold and can often handle temperatures in the mid-to low twenties (degrees Fahrenheit). Ideally, you’ll grow your ranunculus when night time temperatures are between 45 and 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) and daytime temperatures are not exceeding 68 degrees (Fahrenheit).
Understand that with prolonged exposure to temperatures above 70 degrees- ranunculus + anemone plants begin to shut down and become dormant.
Because of this preference to cold, ranunculus + anemone often follow the same schedule as ‘hardy annuals’. This means that you can expect to plant your corms outside in your garden (unprotected) approximately 4 to 6 weeks prior to your area’s last frost.
Here at Two Sisters Flower Farm, we pre-sprout our corms in late February/early March- about 8 to 10 weeks before our last frost date. We then transfer those plants outside 4 to 6 weeks later in early April.
Now that we have an understanding when to grow ranunculus + anemones- let’s discuss how to grow them.
Step 1: Soak Your Corms
As I’ve previously mentioned, corms arrive to you in a dry + dormant state. To help ‘wake up’ your corms (and to accelerate the germination + rooting process), we soak our corms prior to planting.
We gently transfer our corms to a floral bucket which we then fill with room temperature water. We allow our corms to soak for an average of 4 to 6 hours. During this time, our corms plump up (often doubling in size!).
Step 2: Pre-Sprout Your Corms
Because we like to get a jump on the season (and because we currently do not have a greenhouse or high tunnel to grow in), we pre-sprout our corms in trays indoors during the chilly parts of late winter- while it’s still too cold for our plants to survive outdoors.
You certainly don’t have to pre-sprout your corms and I know many gardeners that plant their corms directly into their garden space- but I caution you to be mindful of temperature- you may have to start your corms later in the season to achieve the ideal growing conditions for your plants to thrive.
We plant our corms into 50-cell trays using a well-draining potting soil. For both ranunculus and anemones, we make sure that the pointy side of the corm is facing down. Make sure to cover your corms completely with additional potting soil, and then place your trays in a cool place (ideally somewhere that maintains 40-50 degrees) for a couple of weeks.
During this time, your corms will be hard at work developing roots. And eventually you’ll start to notice tufts of green poking through the soil (this can take 2 to 3 weeks- so be patient with the process!).
Once we see green sprouts emerging- we begin to supplement with light so that our plants don’t become too leggy. We use these LED shop lights as our ‘grow lights’.
Our goal is to have our plants grow to about 2 or 3 inches in size before planting them outdoors.
Step 3: Plant Your Ranunculus and Anemones Outdoors
By now your plants are ready for the outdoors. You’ll want to plant your corms in healthy, well-draining soil. This can be somewhere in your garden, in a raised bed, or even in a large decorative pot (if you’re growing just a few).
Last season, we grew our ranunculus + anemones in bulb crates. Honestly, I was hesitant to plant our corms in our annual field- where the rest of our cut flowers grow- being that our soil is rich in clay. During the spring especially, our soil holds lots of moisture and I feared it would be too much for our corms.
The nice thing about bulb crates is that I have a little more control of the planting medium (last year, we filled our crates with a well-balanced potting soil) + the results spoke for themselves, we had an abundance of beautiful blooms to enjoy!
Wherever you decide to grow your plants, be sure to give them plenty of room.
Anemones don’t seem to mind tighter spacing, and for this reason, we plant our anemones just 4 to 6 inches apart (which means that we can fit approximately 18 to 20 anemones in a single bulb crate).
In my experience, ranunculus are a little bit more robust and require a bit more room. We plant our ranunculus plants 9 inches apart (and often fit an average of 10 ranunculus per bulb crate).
Step 4: Enjoy Your Beautiful Spring Garden
When given the proper care, you can expect your plants to reward you with a full six weeks of flowers!
Now trust me, I know- with their awkward planting time and their intolerance of both extremely cold + extremely warm temps, ranunculus + anemones can be a bit of a hassle to grow.
But now that you understand the ideal growing conditions for these early spring blooms, it’s my hope that you’ll feel confident tweaking the growing process based on the conditions of your growing climate.
Growing ranunculus and anemones may take some getting used to- but for all the frustration they create, they sure do make up for it with their blooms come spring!
P.S. Want to see more behind-the-scenes of how we grew ranunculus and anemones last year? Watch more in this YouTube video here.