We've tried a few different methods to growing our ranunculus and anemones and we've had success with all. Most growers will plant them out in the fall and cover with remay under low tunnels, so that they bloom at the first signs of spring. We plant ours later in the year, around the first week of February, so that we can use the blooms for Mother's Day and our May and June brides.
Anemones and ranunculus grow from corms, which is an underground storage organ. This is where all of the plant's energy is stored and where new growth will start. Once planted, they take 3 months to flower. If you are trying to get blooms for a particular date, make sure you plant at least 90 days prior. Remember, these are cold loving blooms. Here in upstate NY, we are able to stretch their season into June but once the hot days arrive, these blooms wither away and go back into dormancy.
We start our first corms at the beginning of February and succession plant every 2-3 weeks until mid-March. This extends our crop into June so that we can add these beautiful blooms into our wedding work. We get lots of requests for both anemones and ranunculus from our brides.
Pictured: Anemone corm with sprouts
Pictured: Dormant ranunculus corm
Corms are funny little things. When you order your ranunculus and anemones and receive them in the mail, they may not seem like much to you. You'll get these shriveled little alien-like corms that might leave you wondering if they are even alive. No worries! They are very much alive and will turn into amazing blooms.
First, we want to wake these dormant plants back up and give them a good drink. To wake them up, they need to be soaked in water for 8-10 hours. I use mason jars and sort my varieties out by color, each color in it's own jar. Some people like to leave the water running slightly to provide oxygen during the soaking process. I haven't found much of a difference in my experience.
After the corms have soaked, they should be almost twice as big and very plump. Now it's time to get them in media. We have tried a few different methods of growing and they all have worked for us pretty well.
Our first method was growing in crates. In the beginning we didn't have high tunnels, low tunnels or any tunnels for that matter! All we had was our propagation house where we start all of our seedlings. After the corms soaked, we lined bulb crates with newspaper, added soil and planted the corms in the crates. We fit about 25 corms per bulb crate.
We then brought the crates into our propagation house and covered with 2 layers of agribon or remay. The propagation house was unheated at the time.
Pictured: Anemone first bloom
We kept the crates consistently watered and waited for signs of life. Sure enough, 3 months later we started to see our very first blooms.
Once the greenhouse got too hot, the crates were moved outside and they continued to do well during our cool spring.
The bulb crate method was a great trial for our first time growing anemones and ranunculus, but the crates took up a lot of space in our propagation house and we wanted to be able to grow hundreds more!
Pictured: Anemones grown in bulb crates
Pictured: Ranunculus 'Violet'
We put up a small greenhouse over a few of our raised beds in the yard. It's nothing special, but it is close to home and easy for us to access in the winter to work the soil.
After soaking the corms we experimented with "pre-sprouting" before planting the corms into the ground. Pre-sprouting the corms is suppose to give you a few week jump start on blooms and it's also a way to find out which corms are duds.
To pre-sprout we soaked the corms overnight and then put them into flat seed trays with moist potting soil. Make sure all the corms are covered with a layer of potting soil and store in a cool place at 50 degrees. We stored ours in our crawl space below our house that stays between 45 and 50 degrees. You should start to see sprouts in about 10-14 days, sometimes longer if they're in a cooler spot. Be sure to check on them every few days to check for rotting corms or soil drying out.
After the corms have been pre-sprouted, they are ready to be planted in the ground. You are not looking for green growth at this time. You are just trying to get the corms started. Once they start to sprout and grow little tiny roots, then they are ready to go into the ground.
We pre-sprout our corms only on the first and second successions. After that, we soaked the corms and plant directly into the ground without the pre-sprout step. We have found that the corms do just as well being planted directly into the ground after soaking as they do being pre-sprouted. The one benefit to pre-sprouting is to avoid planting corms that are duds.
Pictured: Ranunculus growth during month 2
Pictured: Ranunculus growing in ground under tunnel
Pictured: Pastel Mix Anemone
We found that we were able to grow quite a few in our small hoop that only measures 12'x24'. We didn't use any sort of plastic mulch but planted close and kept them fairly weeded. Once the plants were bigger they shaded out the weeds and it was easier to manage.
This is a pretty short season crop, giving about a 4-6 week bloom time.
Once the weather gets too warm, these cool loving plants start to die and we replace them with a summer loving crop.
Pictured: Pon Pon Ranunculus
We order all of our corms from Fred C. Gloeckner, a wholesale company. They have a 250 corm minimum per variety, but they do offer mixes. This year we ordered Galilee "white with black eye" anemone and Galilee "pastel mix" anemone.
For ranunculus, we ordered "Le Belle Mix" and "Amandine Mix", with Amandine having the ability to withstand warmer temperatures and therefore extending their flowering season.
This is our first year growing the amandine series so we will be interested to see if they hold better during the warmer months.
Pictured: Pastel Mix Anemone
Pictured: Long-lasting Ranunculus, pulled out of the cooler in late July
Once your plants start producing blooms, you can start harvesting. We cut into straight clean water with no preservatives and have had great success.
Make sure to cut the anemones when the blooms are still closed. This allows them to be packaged and transported easier and gives you the longest potential vase life.
Ranunculus and anemones both have a pretty good shelf live, lasting 10 days or more.