Does anyone grow ranunculus for cutting?

steve22802(7a VA)January 17, 2009

Hello all,

This is going to be my first year growing cut flowers to sell at my local farmers market and I'm considering trying to grow some ranunculus. Has anyone else on the forum had much success growing them for cutting? I'm afraid my climate here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia may not be what they really prefer. I also don't think they would overwinter here, but I was hoping maybe I could plant them early with some protection and maybe get a nice spring crop before it turns hot. Any experiences to share?



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Steve~Sorry I don't have any experience, but wondered if you were aware of their toxicity? Also, they must be carefully handled to avoid contact dermatitis, just a "heads up". Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 1:57PM
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bfff_tx(z8b TX)

Hi Steve. Yes I plant 1,000 "La Belle" a year and they are one of my first lucrative spring crops. I love them. Don't know anything about your Virginia growing conditions. What I do, is soak corms in warm water for about 4hrs with slight drip to aerate the water, the last 20 mins I add a fungicide treatment.
Corms are then placed in a netted/mesh bag with moist (not soaking wet) peat,or perlite wrapped in brown paper bags and put in the cooler (35-40f) for about 3 weeks. This enhances the rooting and shoot sprouting, so you can plant the viable ones and gives them a head start on the growing season. I plant them late November, at 1.5" deep, 8" apart, 4 rows in a 4' wide bed. My ranunculus are all field grown. They can take cold. I have some mixed in with the dutch iris that I didn't cover during a recent chilly spell and overnight it was 21F. Don't know that they could take constant cold nights like that though.
When they start forming flower buds, I rig up a hoop system (pvc) and cover them with plastic to prevent damage by rain to the flowers.
They start blooming towards the end of Feb and they'll be done by mid April for me.
I would imagine if you can get some now, give them some cold treatment (you could put them in a regular fridge) and get em in the ground by mid Feb, you'll have flowers in May.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 4:30PM
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flower_farmer(5/6 MI)

Although it is possible to develop a flower farm without a plan simply by blundering along (as many of us have done!!), it is, however, more efficient and certainly more cost effective to have a specific plan. Plans consist of three elements: vision, strategy, and schedule.

Understandably, Steve, I can understand why you are interested in growing ranunculus. They are beautiful. One problem that I see is just like peonies and lilacs. The regular local customers do not want to buy the same type of flower week after week. By growing a single crop you are escalating your risks.

Another point to be made is: What's your budget? We don't necessarily need to know this; but, you certainly do.

Let's assume you have a limited budget for cut flowers for your first season. Then, most first year grower's crops consist of: zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, amaranthus, ammi, and snapdragons -- (just to name a few). If you plan to grow any of these crops, grow the best quality. You can succession sow the sunflowers and zinnias the entire season; and, the customers never seem to tire of any of these.

If you are up to a bit of a challenge, and, are looking for a crop to grow undercover, try growing some lisianthus. They are customer magnets at the farmers market.

As always, probably more information than you actually wanted because you were just inquiring about ranunculus. And, I did not realize the contact dermatitis issue. That is good to know.

Always learning.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 5:01PM
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Trish, as always your photos are amazing, your advice, consise and to the point. I also would like some advice on Ranunculus. If I plant middle of April, which is almost at the end of the heavier frost here, in the field, (my hoophouse is not projected until next year:(...) will I get a reasonable crop? From what I have read, they can handle a frost but not a hard freeze.

How does lisianthus do in the field? Thanks in advance from someone always blundering and always learning. Gotta love it:).

    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 11:43PM
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steve22802(7a VA)

Thanks for the advice bfff_tx and Trish! I think I'll go ahead and order some ranunculus now but not a huge number, maybe 40-50 as a trial and aim to plant them in mid February as bfff_tx suggests. With such a small number it shouldn't be too difficult to give them some additional protection as needed. Any suggestions on where to order them? (There were some good reviews on GardenWatchdog for

Trish, I did find some lisianthus plugs at a local greenhouse two years ago and I grew some for my personal enjoyment. I'll definitely keep them in mind as a possible choice for market.

I noticed that a lot of the flowers you suggested are what I might call Country Style annuals. There is already one cut flower vendor at my market who is focused on that informal style and so I was hoping to try to differentiate my product a bit. Maybe aim for a slightly more formal style. Do you think this is a good idea?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 12:29AM
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flower_farmer(5/6 MI)

It is very noble of you, Steve, to take into consideration another flower vendor at your market. Unfortunately, at our markets, vendors don't play by those rules. Sometimes what we grow one season, other vendors have the next season. As I have mentioned several times, it keeps us on our toes. We have a lot of competition. We specialize in dahlias, and always introducing new varieties every year in an attempt to keep the customers interested, and for various other reasons.

However, those sunflowers, zinnias, and cosmos are considered "bread and butter" crops. And, I wouldn't consider them "Country Style" necessarily. We never thought we could mix these flowers with dahlias because we considered dahlias to be high end. The customers, however, have much input; and, they started asking for sunflowers, zinnias, and cosmos in their dahlia bouquets. We shuttered at first; but, we're pretty much alright with it now. Let's say that it pays the bills! And, of course, we have customers who want strictly dahlia bouquets with a little greenery. Thank the Lord. We appreciate that.

So, anyway, back to the ranunculus. You did realize the company that you linked to only ships September through December? There is a vendor who ships special pre-rooted ranunculus. This speeds up the crop by 3-4 weeks. These ranunculus are specifically for the cut flower grower. They are 14-16 weeks sow to bloom time. This company ships September through May. And, let's just say they are closer to Virginia than they are Michigan. I know, Thinman, very cryptic. But, I have my own rules to which I abide. I don't mention wholesale vendors.

Kat, we don't grow lisianthus in the field. It's grown in an unheated coldframe/hightunnel. We plant in March. The reason we grow under cover is because we get taller stems, they are protected from the wind, and it is easier for us to stay on top of the weeds when they are just tiny plugs and just sit there forever before they decide to grow. And, yes, they can take the cold. Our last frost date here in Michigan is May 15.

They go from this:

To this:

And, then they decide to start growing:

And, I often wonder how it happens, but finally they start to bloom:

And, off to market:

And, I realize this thread is totally not about lisianthus. However, how can you not love the lizzies? Well, maybe after you've told customers for the millionth time. But, I digress.

Hope the sun is shining where you are this morning.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 9:40AM
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steve22802(7a VA)

>> Hope the sun is shining where you are this morning.

Unfortunately it's overcast today with light snow falling. :(

I've grown dahlias in past years and have tried cutting some for my own use or for gift bouquets but they don't seem to have very long stems. Are there some varieties that have longer stems or does growing in a hoop house make them stretch too?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 9:50AM
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steve22802(7a VA)

>> There is a vendor who ships special pre-rooted ranunculus.

Trish, would you please send me the name of this vendor directly using my email link on my member page?


    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 10:01AM
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flower_farmer(5/6 MI)


Do you subscribe to Growing for Market? We wrote an article titled, "Dahlias All Summer" in the September 2007 edition. It is still available to order on the link I have provided.

So, to answer your question. Yes, there are definitely varieties that have longer stems. And, there are techniques that can be used to promote long stems.

We grow a in a hightunnel/hoophouse from which we start harvesting toward the end of May. These take us up to the time our field crops start producing. And, actually, at that time, we are cutting from both the hoophouse and the field.

The dahlias in the hoophouse go from this:

To this:

To this:

In the field they go from this:

To this:

To this:

I cannot believe it is overcast in Virginia. We have family in the Richmond area. Sorry about your weather. But, honestly, we need a break from all the overcast and snow we have had this year.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 10:42AM
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steve22802(7a VA)

>> I cannot believe it is overcast in Virginia.

Ha, it's not ALWAYS the sunny south! ;) But now, just an hour later the snow is done (1/2 inch maybe), the sun is shining and I have already swept (not shoveled) the driveway which is rapidly drying. :)

OK, you've convinced me that I should plant some dahlias for cutting. I already was a believer in their beauty, I just need to get some varieties with longer stems. You are also starting to persuade me (without even trying) that I should have at least a small hoophouse... :)

- Steve

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 11:50AM
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flower_farmer(5/6 MI)


I emailed you the information for the ranunculus vendor. Hopefully, you received it. You may want to check your SPAM folder. I have noticed that know sometimes the email I receive from other GardenWeb members goes into my SPAM folder.

And, yes, but, Virginia does not look like this in the winter.....


    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 5:00PM
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steve22802(7a VA)

Oh my, that does look bleak! :( We rarely get more than a few inches of snow here and there during a typical winter and then it all melts quickly. Every once in a while I think it would be fun to get a big pile of it but that's the curl-up-by-the-woodstove side of me not the gardening side of me! ;)

- Steve

P.S. Yes, got your direct email ok, thanks!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 5:56PM
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I just can't resist to remind you of the much forgotten part of the Appalachia region. And it does very much look like your picture outside here right now. Granted our snows don't usually hang around longer than a week or two but we often (or at least up to 4-5 years ago...we have been in a heating trend for a while now) have a few feet a couple times a year. This is my favorite time believe it or not!

Trish, I was wondering if I too could get an email with the name of this vendor? I was also thinking of trying ranunculus this year. I had started to think it was too late though...that I should have started them in the fall. But,I desperately need June/July flowers.

BTW, I don't post on here very often. So you may not recognize me but I have been hanging around for about three years.

Thanks so much.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 6:11PM
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flower_farmer(5/6 MI)

Blaithinbeka, I do actually recognize you. And, yes, I can imagine that you get snow; however, as you say it doesn't hang around for weeks, and weeks, and weeks.

BTW I can't email you through your My Page because you don't have your email link. You can, however, contact me through the email link on My Page. Does that make sense?


    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 7:00PM
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Oops, sorry about that. I have updated it but will email you also.

I am honored that you recognize me. :)

And no offense taken. We here in SW VA get used to people thinking we are like the rest of the state. I often have a hard time deciding though whether we are part of the northeast or southeast. We have a little of both. BTW, it is still snowing here and about 15 degrees. But then in Michigan it is probably 15 below. :)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 11:35AM
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flower_farmer(5/6 MI)

Totally understand. There are some who think those of us living in Michigan wear red and black buffalo plaid jackets. BTW It is a balmy 18 degrees here today. And, the sun is shining!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 5:13PM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Hi all...brrrrr!!
Its cold here in N. Central Oregon too...24 this morning and overcast.

But, back on topic, I tried ranunculus last year, planted them in April and was cutting them in late July! But, I forgot about them and didn't get them weeded. They also needed the support netting, which some had and others didn't. I ordered some late fall and have them waiting in the cooler for a bit warmer weather. I'm going to try them again and take better care of them this year!

Stay warm!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 2:47PM
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