Every PNW garden could use a colorful batch of anemones and ranunculus

Every PNW garden could use a colorful batch of anemones and ranunculus

The lush blooms of anemones and ranunculus are spring favorites. Open-faced or delicate double-faced anemones come in a range of colors from jewel tones to creamy pastels.

Ranunculus flowers, sometimes called primroses, consist of multiple layers of cupped petals and come in a range of warm, fruity colors, from raspberry pink to light watermelon and lemon yellow.

Ann Long is the owner of The Dahlia House, a flower farm located in the Skagit Valley. Long loves anemones and ranunculus and believes they belong in every garden in the Pacific Northwest. “These are luxury flowers for busy people,” she says enthusiastically. “But anemones and ranunculus are not equal.” The experienced flower grower is a big fan of hardy Italian varieties that have been bred to withstand the widest temperature range.

Weather controls both ends of the anemone/ranunculus growing season. Anemones tolerate lows well into the teens and begin growing actively in late winter, when temperatures reach 40 degrees. Buttercups reach a temperature of 26 degrees and begin to grow a little later, when the garden temperature reaches 50 degrees.

At the other end of the season, anemones go into hibernation when the thermometer reaches 70 degrees; Ranunculus continues to bloom until we reach 80 degrees. Our area's cool spring weather is ideal for flower production for up to eight weeks, but the occasional spring heat wave may shorten the blooming season.

Anemone monkeys look like a wrinkled acorn, while buttercup monkeys resemble a small, shriveled octopus – neither of which looks very promising. After a quick soak in room temperature water for three to four hours, the corms are well stocked and can be planted in a sunny part of the garden. Long recommends planting shallowly: 2 inches deep for anemones and 1 inch deep for ranunculus. Plants are heavy feeders, so supplement with compost and a balanced organic fertilizer in the fall and then again in early spring. Plants will begin to bloom about 12 weeks after spring planting.

If flowers begin to lag midway through the blooming season, additional feeding recharges blooms.

Goose corms pre-emerge in early bloom. Fill a flat, non-drainable seed tray halfway with moist soil mixture, then place the soaked corms on the surface of the soil (they can be very close apart). Fill the tray with more potting mix and place it in a cool place, such as an unheated garage or basement. Within 10 to 14 days, you will notice white, thread-like roots appearing. Remove any corms that show signs of mold or rot.

Although they are beautiful in the landscape, anemones and ranunculus shine as cut flowers. The prolific plants are cut-back growers and have an exceptionally long vase life. To encourage longer stems, space plants 4 inches apart and provide protection from wind. Harvest anemones while they are in bloom, but test the buttercup buds with light pressure before picking them. “Side-by-side buds can look identical, but only the squishy, ​​marshmallow-like buds are ready for picking,” Long says.

Deer repel anemones and buttercups. However, rabbits love it, as do slugs. Long Sluggo is applied to deal with slugs and gardeners are advised to plant in raised beds at least 14 to 15 inches deep to deter rabbits. Squirrels are “ninja buttercups — they won’t eat worms, but they will dig up the worms and carry them away,” according to Long. She recommends protecting fresh plantings with a shallow layer of branches and leaf mulch for a few weeks; You remove it as soon as the plants start to emerge.

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