Are Ranunculus Annuals or Perennials? How to Grow Them for Years of Color

With their rose-like blooms in shades of red, pink, yellow, and white, ranunculus offer charm to spring gardens. But are these beauties annuals or perennials? The answer depends on where you garden and how you grow them.

The Perennial Nature of Ranunculus

Ranunculus are perennials by nature In their native climates like the Mediterranean, they bloom in spring then go dormant in summer, storing energy in their corms (enlarged bulb-like root structures) The corms remain in the ground over winter and send up new growth when conditions are right.

So ranunculus are inherently capable of living for many years as perennials if planted in an ideal climate.

Growing Ranunculus as Annuals

In cold winter climates, ranunculus typically don’t survive over winter outdoors. Temperatures below 30°F damage the corms.

To enjoy ranunculus in chilly zones (3-6), gardeners treat them as annuals

  • Buy new corms each year
  • Start indoors early for transplanting
  • Remove plants after blooming ceases
  • Discard corms or save for forcing again

With this annual approach, gardeners get to enjoy spring ranunculus flowers without the need to overwinter the tender corms.

Encouraging Perennial Behavior

But ranunculus can also be coaxed into behaving as perennials in colder zones with a bit of added care:

  • Select hardy varieties like those from Italy.

  • Plant in raised beds for excellent drainage.

  • Use row covers or mulch for winter protection

  • Site in a warm microclimate, against a sunny wall or rock.

  • Dig up corms after leaves yellow and store in fall.

  • Replant a portion of corms each spring.

With the right conditions and care, ranunculus will return for multiple years in zones 6-7. In zone 5 and colder, success overwintering in the ground is less likely. Storing corms indoors over winter is a safer bet.

Overwintering Tips for Perennial Ranunculus

To keep ranunculus performing as perennials, here’s how to properly handle the corms each year:

  • Allow foliage to die back completely after blooming ends.

  • Dig carefully when soil is dry to avoid damaging corms.

  • Gently brush off soil but don’t wash corms.

  • Spread out and dry corms for 1-2 weeks in shade.

  • Remove any shriveled corms. Keep plump, healthy ones.

  • Pack in peat or vermiculite in breathable bags.

  • Store in cool spot (40-50°F) until spring planting time.

With this overwintering method, healthy corms can be perpetuated indefinitely.

Storing Corms for Forcing Indoors

For a super early spring ranunculus display, the corms can be forced into bloom indoors before planting:

  • In late winter, pot up stored corms in soil mix.

  • Keep pots at 60-65°F with moderate moisture.

  • Once sprouted, move to a sunny window or under lights.

  • Transplant to the garden after hardening off seedlings.

Forced ranunculus will bloom weeks earlier than direct spring planting. Enjoy flowers both indoors and out.

Balance Annual Blooms with Perennial Potential

Treat ranunculus as annuals for reliable flowering with minimal fuss. But also experiment with cultivars and conditions that may allow perennial reblooming in your unique garden conditions. Finding the right balance will let you enjoy this ephemeral spring flower for years to come.

Plan for Success

Sun and Shade: Ranunculus are cool weather plants that need lots of bright light each day. In most climates, they should be grown in full sun. In hot climates they may need some sun protection during the hottest part of the day.

Hardiness Zone: Ranunculus corms are winter hardy in growing zones 8-10, where temperatures do not fall below 25°F. Gardeners in these areas plant ranunculus corms in fall for spring flowers. In colder places (hardiness zones 4–7), ranunculus plants won’t make it through the winter unless they are grown in a greenhouse or under a floating row cover. People who live in these places can plant ranunculus corms in late winter or very early spring to get flowers in early summer. To find your growing zone click HERE.

Soil Conditions: For best results, plant ranunculus corms in light, well-drained soil. Avoid soggy soil, as the corm and roots can rot. If you are growing ranunculus in pots, make sure you use a good soilless growing mix and keep the bulbs from getting too wet in the winter.

Air Movement: Powdery mildew loves to grow on ranunculus leaves, so it’s important to keep the air moving in and around the plants. Use drip irrigation or water early in the day so the foliage stays as dry as possible. Avoid overcrowding the plants.

Your Guide to Planning, Planting, and Growing Ranunculus

Ranunculus flowers look almost too perfect to be real. Their flower looks like a rose and has very thin petals. The colors range from cream and pale yellow to apricot, pink, orange, red, and burgundy. Even though you don’t see ranunculus flowers very often in home gardens, they are a must-have in wedding bouquets and high-end flower shops.

If you like ranunculus, why not try growing them yourself? The corms can be planted in pots or the garden, so you can enjoy these pretty flowers both inside as cut flowers and outside in flower beds, borders, and pots. Shop our selection of ranunculus HERE.

How I Grow Ranunculus (+ Schedule of Planting Dates)! // Garden Answer


Does ranunculus come back every year?

Caring for Ranunculus after they Bloom Ranunculus are winter hardy in zones 8-10. To encourage the plants to come back a second year, make sure to plant them in very well drained soil. Keep in mind that these plants do not like hot weather. Cool coastal conditions are ideal.

Can you leave ranunculus in the ground over winter?

If you’re a gardener in USDA zone 7 or above, you can leave your corms in the ground and they may bloom the following year depending on multiple factors, such as how cold your winter is, how well your soil drains, and how much pest pressure you have in your garden.

Do ranunculus bulbs multiply?

Yes, ranunculus bulbs, or more accurately, corms, can multiply under the right conditions. After the blooming season and once the foliage has died back, the original corm will have produced several smaller cormlets around its base.

Do ranunculus like sun or shade?

Ranunculus plants need full sun and rich, well-draining soil. Prepare the planting area by incorporating several inches of compost into the soil. Plant the corms 2” deep and about 9” apart. If there’s a chance you could still get some freezing temperatures, cover the planting area with frost cloth.

Are Ranunculus cut flowers?

Today, ranunculus are grown as cut flowers mostly, though there are some shorter bedding varieties that are sold at plant nurseries in the Spring. Ranunculus reproduce by tubers and seeds. Ranunculus is a tender perennial flower that grows from fleshy, underground structures called tubers.

Are Ranunculus perennials?

Ranunculus are cool season perennials with exquisite, multilayered flowers that come in stunning hues of red, orange, pink and yellow, to name just a few! Ranunculus are a natural fit for, beds and containers. Their long-lasting, origami-like flowers and straight stems make them excellent as cut flowers.

Is Ranunculus a good ornamental plant?

Ranunculus, also known as the Persian Buttercup, is a popular ornamental plant for a reason. With its plentiful foliage and showy flowers, planting it in your cut garden or even a container is a huge treat. Here’s a detailed Ranunculus growing & care guide that will teach you all about Ranunculus.

What is a Ranunculus flower?

Ranunculus—also known as buttercups—are popular for their eye-catching pastel colors and long vase life. These vibrant bloomers are great for potting or planting in your own garden. As cut flowers, they add color to spring bouquets and vase arrangements. Oops, something went wrong What Are Ranunculus? What Are Ranunculus?

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