How to Grow Ranunculus Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Buttercup, Water Crowfoot, and Spearwort

Ranunculus are a large genus of hardy or half hardy perennials.

Due to the large number of species, the flowering season is species dependent. This ranges from late in the winter until the summer.

Most Ranunculus flowers have cup shaped flowers, though many have double cups.

Ranunculus montanus - Mountain Buttercup by Cliff1066™

The large range in height of Ranunculus plants means that the locations where they should be grown is species dependent. Ranging from rock gardens, through to borders or in mass.

Ranunculus eschscholtzii
Ranunculus eschscholtzii - Alpine Buttercup by Brewbooks.

Some common names for Ranunculus include Buttercup, Creeping Buttercup, Lesser Celandine, Greater Spearwort, and Bachelor's Buttons.

Latin names include Ranunculus flammula, Ranunculus glacialis, and Ranunculus repens.

Commonly Grown Ranunculus Species Photographs and Plant Identification

Ranunculus acris

Ranunculus acris
Ranunculus acris (Meadow Buttercup / Common Buttercup), photograph by Andreas Rockstein; CC.

Ranunculus bulbosus

Ranunculus bulbosus
Ranunculus bulbosus (Bulbous Buttercup / St. Anthony's Turnip), photograph by Peter O'Connor aka anemoneprojectors; CC.

Ranunculus asiaticus

Ranunculus asiaticus
Ranunculus asiaticus (Persian Buttercup / Red Buttercup), photograph by Dr Mary Gillham Archive Project; CC.

Ranunculus repens

Ranunculus repens
Ranunculus repens (Creeping Buttercup / Creeping Crowfoot / Sitfast), picture by Andreas Rockstein; CC.

How to Grow Ranunculus

Ranunculus Growing Guide and Facts

Common Names: Buttercup, Water Crowfoot, Spearwort, Lesser Celedine, Makino, Bachelor's Buttons. Buttercup: Woodland; Creeping; Lapland; Smallflower; Pygmy; Swamp; Mount Cook; Californian; Utah.
Scientific Names: Ranunculus acris; R. aquatilis; R. calandrinioides; R. ficaria; R. lyallii; R. repens.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial or half hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 0.5 to 40 inches (1 to 100 cm).
Native: Central and Northern America, Mediterranean, Europe, Asia, Australasia.
Growing Region: Zones 4 to 9.

Flowers: End of winter, spring and/or summer.
Flower Details: Yellow, white, orange, red. Cup-shaped. Lustrous petals. Often has five petals.
Foliage: Broad. Lobed. Fine hairs.

Sow Inside/Outside: Cover seed. Roots: 2 inches. Sow in flats in the spring. Place flat in a bag and stratify in the fridge for three weeks. Sink flats in a shady area. Provide a glass/plastic cover.
Germination time: two weeks to three months. Transplant seedlings to their final location with a spacing of 2 to 24 inches (5 to 60 cm).

Requirements: Light shade. Good drainage. Moist soil. Light poor soils. Summer cooling mulch. Regular watering during prolonged dry periods to keep the soil moist.
Bring tubers indoors in cool areas for the winter. Propagate: dividing in the spring in cool areas, or in autumn in warmer areas.
Family: Ranunculaceae.
Miscellaneous: Some species are classified as invasive.

How to Grow Buttercup Species

Buttercups can be started from roots, these should be buried about 5 cm (2 inches) deep.

When growing Buttercups and other Ranunculus species from seeds, it is best to start them in flats in the spring.

Ranunculus seeds should be lightly covered once sown. Then the flat put into a plastic bag, and placed in the fridge for three weeks.

The flat should then be removed from the bag, sank into a shady part of the garden, and covered with glass.

Seed germination takes from two weeks to three months. As soon as the seedlings emerge transplant them to their final location.

Buttercup (Ranunculus) prefers to grow in a partially shaded area, or in sunny areas that have moist soils.

Caring for Buttercups and similar Ranunculus Plants

It is pretty easy to look after Ranunculus plants. They should be watered during prolonged dry spells, or if growing in a sunny area.

They enjoy a cool soil, so mulch the plants in the spring time. If you require more plants then they can be propagated by division in the spring or autumn.

Common Questions

How many members does the Ranunculus genus contain?

The Ranunculus genus, the Buttercups, has around 500 species.

Do Ranunculus members make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, many Ranunculus species are excellent in the garden for their beautiful, often brilliantly colored flowers and their attractive foliage.

Which Ranunculus species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

One of the most popular is Ranunculus asiaticus (Persian Buttercup), grown for its large, multi-petaled flowers in a variety of bright colors.

Are Ranunculus plants fragrant?

While Ranunculus flowers are visually appealing, they typically do not have a strong fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Ranunculus?

Ranunculus prefers a sunny location with well-drained soil. They are a great choice for borders, containers, or as cut flowers.

Is Ranunculus invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, some Ranunculus species, like Ranunculus repens (Creeping Buttercup), are considered invasive in parts of the USA due to their aggressive growth.

How do I remove Ranunculus plants from my garden?

Ranunculus can be removed by hand-pulling, ensuring to extract all the roots to prevent regrowth. Regular monitoring is required to maintain control.


The Ranunculus genus, also known as buttercups, includes a variety of flowering plants. These plants are appreciated for their glossy, multi-petaled flowers which appear in a spectrum of colors.

Ranunculus species enjoy full sun and require fertile, well-drained soil. They are typically planted in the fall or early spring depending on the climate. While some varieties are hardy, others may need to be lifted in winter in colder regions.

I hope that you found this guide on how to grow Ranunculus plants in your garden. You may also enjoy my gardening guides on how to grow Helleborus, Consolida plant, Aquilegia vulgaris, and other Aquilegia plants.