14 March 2012

Batty for Buttercups

I've got a new obsession -- a tiny little buttercup, Ranunculus ficaria
Here's the low down on what it needs: sun or shade, happiest in wet soils, but not picky. It is a spring ephemeral, meaning it pops up early, blooms its head off along with things like daffodils and tulips, and then vanishes underground for the rest of the year. Which, for people like me who try and cram too many plants into too little space, is a good thing.
The wild species forms a mass of shiny green leaves topped with bright, bright yellow flowers. Nice enough, but not too exciting. But never fear, the cultivars are amazing.
For foliage, try these black-and-silver leaves of 'Dusky Maiden'
Or even more dramatic, the amazing black leaves of 'Brazen Hussy'

If you prefer subtler flower color, the over-sized pale yellow blooms of 'Randal's White' are for you
Or, you can go for the tangerine blooms of 'Cupreus'
One word of warning. Some of these do like to seed around the garden, especially in wet areas they can become a weed. I don't mind this too much, because they're so small, and present so briefly that they never harm other plants, but if you are worried, there is a solution. A most beautiful solution. Doubles.
'Flora Plena' is not only beautiful, all its naughty bits have been converted into extra petals, meaning no seeds, and no seedlings. It will spread slowly, by division, but never make a bid to conquer the world.
The same goes for perhaps the very cutest of them all: 'Collarette'
How can you resist those adorable little flowers?

You can get them all, of course, from my new employer, Arrowhead Alpines


Barry Parker said...

This is my obsession too ( although not so new). It was nice seeing the selection of cultivars on the Arrowhead site, but surely we need to see the leaves as well as the flowers.

plantingoaks said...

Oh you dirty, dirty hustler. I knew your new job would get us into trouble.

Megan said...

Loving those doubles! Alpines are my new obsession. They're so teeny & cute. Are all the plants on Arrowhead Alpines are hardy to zone 5? Congrats on the new job!

Joseph said...

Megan, most of the stuff Arrowhead offers is hardy here in zone 5 Michigan, but not everything. We're working on getting hardiness zones added to all the catalog descriptions.

Tom said...

If only I didn't have to spend most of my days pulling this out of people's gardens in the spring...

Most of them are pretty damn charming though, I'm thinking long and hard about getting either Dusky Maiden or Collarette.

Riz Reyes said...

The straight species can be a problem as it is so rampant in our area, but these selections are quite lovely and I hope people aren't afraid of them.

greenman said...

Lovelly. Speceally the collarette.
Never saw them here in Portugal.

Jeff White said...

Thanks to your post, I now know what the lovely yellow flowers are in a ditch in a nearby town. Have been seeing them for years as I drive by. Only place I've ever seen them. Gotta get me some.

Life Style Garden said...

Aaack! It Ranunculus ficaria is a horrible, horrible invasive weed! At Kingwood Center in Mansfield, Ohio it is in all our annual beds, it has made major inroads into the woods and is colonizing more and more perennial beds. It is in our compost rendering it "dangerous" to use, and it can be found spotted around in much of our turf. It has defied many attempts to control it.

Rudolpho said...

Oh Dear!
I have many hybrids, most that I've brought back from England, or received from other collectors.
They have gone mad here, , have hybridized, and yes, are escaping to everywhere!
I'm escared of this plont now, and am threatening 'ROUND-UP" to them.

Anonymous said...

Very very very invasive. Do not plant this crazy stupid plant. If you start getting large amounts the only way to get rid of it is chemical spraying. It's taking over woodland at an alarming pace killing almost all spring plants. Pull and spray now if you have managble clumps.

Mr Paul said...

Wow, that Collarette is something else.