Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Spring Series - "Plant of the Week"

I have had a few requests to share more about some plants here on this blog 'o mine so I thought this would be a great opportunity to start a new series called "Plant of the Week."  This way, I am able to share with you some of my plant knowledge AND perhaps introduce you to some plants or cultivars you may never have come across otherwise.  I would also love this to be a way for you guys to chime in and let me know if it's something you would plant, have planted, have killed, etc...The only way for me to know if you guys like this or not is for you to comment!  So please don't be shy!  I'm pretty laid-back, especially with some peppermint tea and cadbury eggs in me  :)

So, for my inagural plant I've chosen one of my favorites...Ranunculus, it's name means "Little Frog" in Late Latin.  How cute is that!!  And aptly named-frogs like to live near water, so do Ranuculus.

Average size of foliage is 6-12" across, average height of blooms is anywhere from 8-18" tall.

The Tecolote strain I would say is the most common and has large, 3-6" double flowers.

The Bloomingdale strain can also be found, usually in higher-end garden centers (not Home Depot or Lowes), and tends to be a little shorter, typically 10" also with double flowers.
Ranunculus, for the most part, are frost-hardy cool-season perennials.  They perform best where winters are relatively mild and springs are long and cool.  Sorry deep South!!

I have also found they do best when planted in their container in your larger container.  That enables you to pull them out when they're done blooming.  When you're ready for your May/June seasonal color, remove the pot, lay the container on its side to make sure no water rots the bulb and then store in a cool, dry place and save for next year!  You can also treat them as an annual and just toss them if you're not into upkeep.
One of their charms is the multiple layers of delicate, crepe paper--thin petals, looking like an origami masterwork.  Greg bought me some gorgeous white/yellow ones (similar to the photo below) from Israel for Valentines Day and they lasted over a month!
They are a bulb (really a tuber-like potatoes!), can be planted in the fall and will bloom in late winter/early spring for most of the country.

Bulb size predicts the number of flowers, so bigger is better!  Each jumbo bulb will produce some 35 cuttable flowers, compared to a fifth as many from a number three bulb.  Number ones will make about 20 flowers, number twos a dozen or more.  Stick to jumbos for containers and most smaller plantings.  Smaller number twos or even threes serve well for mass plantings.  If you are purchasing pre-potted from a nursery they are typically jumbo or #1's, more bang for your buck!
They come in an array of colors, sizes and blooms, I always select them with at least one flower in bloom so I know the "true color" I'm getting in my containers.  Although some people like a surprise, I'm too much of a color-combo planner! 
I purchased some of my own (third photo-purple and white tinged ones) to put in our containers by our front door.  My mother-in-law is coming to visit tomorrow and I wanted to spruce it up!  So I'll show you the planting combo once they're happily in the soil.

So there you have it!  Please let me know if you like this and want to see more!  Who doesn't love a little beauty (and learning)!

Have a great Wednesday!


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