One of the flowers I have planted this autumn, which I have never grown before, is Rannunulus asiaticus or Persian Buttercup. Rannunculus is a large genus of roughly 500 species including one we all know, Creeping Buttercup or Rannunculus reptens. The Persian Buttercup, in its cultivated form, is much larger than its smaller cousin, and has a flower that is reminiscent of an opening rose. Considered to be a worthy cut flower, it grows up to 12” tall and has a good vase life. It also comes in all sorts of colours, but I think the white form is particularly beautiful.
The uncultivated species is native to the Middle East, hence the name Persian Buttercup. The name Rannunculus is made up from two Late Latin words: rana, meaning frog and unculus meaning little. It is assumed that this is because many species grow beside streams and in damp environments. The Persian Buttercup is a herbaceous perennial, and thus dies down for a dormant period before growing again the following season. It has hairy, fuzzy stems with sparse leaves and the flowers are made up from layers of paper thin petals.
We ordered a mix of Rannunculus colours in yellow, white, pink and red. They arrived through the post as a bag of corms (a swollen underground plant stem from which shoots emerge) which swelled up once I had soaked them in water for 24 hours. Rannunculus asiaticus can be damaged by prolonged frost and so we planted the majority of the corms in the ground in the polytunnel, some in pots in the polytunnel, some outside under a cloche and some outside unprotected – so we have all bases covered! We shall see which survive our Highland winter and perhaps use some fleece to protect them if our winter is hard.
It was the middle of October when they were planted; about 2” deep and 6” apart. They have already emerged above ground and have gone dormant now that it is cold. I am not 100% sure of when they will flower, but I hope that it will be in early spring, perhaps to coincide with the Anenomes, Narcissi or Tulips.
Traditionally, Rannunculus are thought to express charm and radiance, and are therefore given as gifts by admirers!