When to plant ranunculus - experts reveal the best time to add these beautiful buttercups to your garden

Listen up, buttercup

Ranunculas in garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ranunculus may be difficult to pronounce, but it’s not hard to understand why so many people love these beautiful buttercups. And if you want to plant ranunculus in your own garden, you’ll first need to know when to plant ranunculus. 

Coming in a wide range of colours, varieties, and sizes, ranunculus is a petal-packed flower that will help bring any garden idea to life. These big blooms are planted as tubers (which are often called ‘claws’ because, strangely, they actually look like claws) and will flower throughout the whole summer and into early autumn if planted correctly. 

However, planting at the wrong time can drastically reduce their blooming period and thwart your flower bed ideas. That’s why we’ve consulted with garden experts to uncover when to plant ranunculus. 

When to plant ranunculus

If you want to make the most of ranunculus blooms, you need to know when to plant ranunculus. Luckily for you, it’s around the same time as when you'll plant your summer bulbs

Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench explains, ‘There are a couple of different types of ranunculus. However, they mainly need to be planted in springtime here in the UK (around March or April).’

Ranunculas in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

‘For example, Persian buttercups can be purchased as either young plants or tubers and should be planted in spring, as well as border ranunculus, which should also be planted in spring.’ 

This is echoed by Kate Turner, Gardening Guru at Miracle-Gro, who says, ‘Ranunculus are tender bulbs (tubers) from warm climates so are best planted in the spring, ideally no earlier than mid-March depending on where you live in the UK.’

This is something you should take note of if you’re looking to plant a container garden, as Persian buttercups offer stunning and silky petals that really pop when planted in pots. And if you’re looking to upgrade your garden borders, border ranunculus can add that pop of colour you’re after. 

Ranunculas in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

But why is planting ranunculus a task to add to your list of jobs to do in the garden in March? Well, Steve has explained.

‘This is because ranunculus prefers slightly moist soil, so it's important that the soil isn't too cold or going to freeze over, which could kill them. They also need to be placed in a sunny spot or in a spot with partial shade.’

In fact, this makes them perfect for those with a south-facing garden or those with a particularly sunny balcony. 

However, if you want to get a headstart on your summer garden for next year, you also have the option to plant ranunculus claws from early autumn to early winter. It’s essential to do this undercover in a greenhouse or cold frame, though, as these plants are only half-hardy.

Ranunculas in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

‘Get them off to a head start by soaking the bulbs for a few hours in water to allow them to swell and they will also sprout earlier,’ says Kate. ‘Plant them in containers filled with a good peat-free multi-purpose compost, add some grit and place them in a frost-free greenhouse or cool windowsill/conservatory to bring them on before planting out either in the ground or a larger container when the weather is warmer.’

Doing this will give you one less job to do in the spring, but it’s important to note that planting ranunculus like this could potentially result in smaller blooms and delayed flowering. 

Because of this, most experts would suggest planting ranunculus during spring, if you can. 

Headshot of gardening expert Steve Chilton
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field and has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. Steve is a keen educator and loves to share this knowledge with others. He strives to simplify complex garden practices and encourage eco-friendly gardening.


What month is best to plant ranunculus?

If you’re planting ranunculus outside, it’s best to plant the young plants or tubers in spring. You can choose anytime between March and April, as these plants prefer moist but sunny locations. Planting in spring will also ensure that the frost has passed, which could potentially prove deadly to the half-hardy tubers. 

However, you also have the option to start your ranunculus early (or late, depending on when you're reading this) in the autumn. You should do this undercover in a greenhouse and then transplant them outside next spring. 

Is it too late to start ranunculus?

If you miss the boat to plant ranunculus in the spring, you could get a headstart on your summer garden next year and plant your ranunculus tubers during the autumn months. You should keep them covered and protected from frost throughout the winter and then transplant them outside. 

Most experts would advise against this, though. Instead, aim to plant ranunculus in the spring. 

Well, there you have it. Now you know when to plant ranunculus, you can move onto learning how to plant ranunculus... 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.