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Flower Meanings


Arguably, one of the most beautiful blooms around—the ranunculus is a wedding-season favorite!

The Meaning of Ranunculus

With each unique blooms comes another variety of special meanings.

The ranunculus is no different!

The top 3 meanings commonly associated with ranunculus blooms are:

  • Charm: It’s no surprise ranunculus symbolizes charm—just look how charming they are! This gentle bloom is the perfect way to let someone know how charming they are! (Making them an amazing gift for that special someone in your life).
  • Attractiveness: Another one we’re sure you could have easily guessed! Of course, these beauties represent attractiveness—look how stunning they are!
  • Having a crush on someone: The gift of the ranunculus is the perfect way to let someone know you’re attracted to them and want to learn more about them.

Now onto a bit of legend:

The ranunculus flower is associated with 2 legends of lore. The first is a Native American legend and the second a Persian legend.

Persian Legend: This story is one of love. It tells of a young Persian prince who falls for multiple beautiful nymphs. To impress them, he would sing their praises nightly (literally would sing to them every single night). But they remained unimpressed with his efforts. In an attempt to get him to stop, the nymphs transformed him into a Ranunculus flower.

Another version of this tale states that the prince died of sadness due to the nymph’s rejection and on the place where he died grew a Ranunculus flower.

Native American Legend: This story tells of a coyote that was tossing his eyes up into the sky and playing with them. Ever lay on the ground and toss a baseball up into the sky—a little game of solo catch, if you will?

While he was playing, an eagle spotted him and caught his eyes mid-flight—*cue audience gasp*.

Since the coyote could no longer see, he used two buttercup flowers to make himself a new pair of eyes. [1]

Ranunculus Color Meanings

There are many flowers that have just one meaning, but the ranunculus has many meanings depending on its color… and it has a lot of color varieties. Here are just a few different colors and what their ranunculus color meaning is:

  • The color yellow is a symbol of happiness, joy and positive feelings. The yellow ranunculus flower is going to bring joy to everyone you gift it to, and will also bring a lot of positive energy into your home.
  • The color red is a symbol of love, passion and romance. The red ranunculus flowers are perfect gift for your partner and you can always give them to your partner to surprise him or her. Color red sends a very strong message and with the original symbolism of the ranunculus flowers.
  • The color pink is a symbol of romance, love and gentle feelings. This color goes perfectly with the symbolic meaning of the ranunculus flower. This flower is a perfect gift for your mother, friend but also your partner. You will certainly make them happy.
  • The color purple is a symbol of mystery, royalty and beauty. This unusual flower is a perfect gift for someone who is special in your life and has something unique about them. This color goes perfectly with the original symbolism of the ranunculus flower. [1]

What Does Ranunculus Smell Like?

These popular wedding flowers are not known for their scent. Perfect for those with sensitive sniffers!

"Ranunculus. It’s a kind of flower. It’s such a weird word but the flowers are so pretty, I like how unexpected that is.​"

Christina Lauren

The History of the Ranunculus

More commonly referred to as buttercups, ranunculus is a genus of flowering plants in the Ranunculaceae family. Its name is derived from the Latin terms rana and unculus which translate to little frog. The ranunculus was most likely named this because of its tendency to grow alongside streams in a plentiful manner.

Of the many types of ranunculus available, the most sought after is the Persian buttercup. This variety is also referred to as R. asiaticus, and is known as the florist’s bloom for its ruffled and vibrantly colored petals coming in all sorts of beautiful hues—pink, purple, orange, yellow, and red, to name a few!

This variety usually will have flappy, globe-like flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer and can reach up to two feet tall!

The Persian ranunculus is native to central Asia but is now widely grown throughout the world, particularly in regions with more temperate climates.

Since we are talking about quite a vast genus, some of the blooms are perennials, while others are annual or even aquatic. Yes, aquatic! Some varieties are commonly found in grassy meadows and woodland areas throughout the United States. To name a few—R. aconitifolius with saucer-shaped flowers, R. lyallii with huge white flowers and lily pad-like leaves, and the R. acris or double meadow buttercup that tends to be weedy and invasive. [2]

DID YOU KNOW - Ranunculus Fun Fact

Ranunculus are common wedding flowers! The soft and delicate petals are romantic and full, making them the ideal flowers to fill in a bridal bouquet. [3]

How to Grow Ranunculus

Unless you’re living in sunny California, you probably don’t see too many ranunculi growing in your neighbors garden. You are probably used to seeing them in your local florist’s cooler though!

But if you are a long-time admirer of these beautiful blooms—growing them yourself can be easier than you’d think!

Although they are considered a frost-tender tuber, they can be grown as an annual in most climates. The bulbs are also generally inexpensive and widely available at many nurseries!

There are two strains of R. asiaticus that are commonly cultivated for planting in home gardens. Both have cup-shaped flowers that look like a hybrid of a peony and a tea-rose, with plentiful layers of papery petals.

  1. Giant Tecolote produces large double-flowered blooms up to 6 inches wide on stems as tall as 2 feet. It comes in almost every color except for blue.
  2. Bloomingdale is a dwarf variety that produces the same lush petal-packed blooms but on shorted, sturdier stems about 8-10 inches high.

When to plant:

In areas where temperatures don’t drop below 10 degrees F, like the West Coast, and in the South, ranunculus can be planted outdoors in the fall with minimal protection.

In colder areas where temperatures dip well below freezing, wait to plant in late winter or early spring when you are sure the ground won’t freeze, or start them indoors.

Where to plant: Like most tubers, ranunculus can adapt to a wide range of growing conditions as long as you give them full sun, sufficient moisture, and soil with good drainage. The one environment they can’t tolerate is warm and overly wet, which can ultimately lead to rotting.

Water & fertilizer:

Once your plants begin growing, water them adequately but don’t allow the soil to become soggy. If you are growing your ranunculus as an annual, fertilization isn’t necessary. [4]

DID YOU KNOW - Ranunculus Fun Fact

They reflect UV light! Many of us played the game as kids where you held a buttercup under your chin to see if it made your chin glow yellow—if it did, that meant you liked butter. Even though the result has nothing to do with your butter preferences, the color under your chin isn’t just an optical illusion—the petals do actually glow. The petals have mirror flat cells that bounce back light. They will reflect UV light which helps attract bees and looks vibrantly yellow from any angle! [3]

How to Care for Ranunculus

Ranunculus temperament after cutting is quite similar to that of a peony—be sure to handle them with care as they can be quite delicate!

Steps for Caring for Your Cut Ranunculus:

  • Remove all of the leaves from the bottom half of the stem, making sure there is no foliage touching the water—this will aid in preventing unwanted bacteria growth.
  • Cut at least a half-inch to one inch off the base of the stem before placing them in water.
  • Pro Tip: If you are using ranunculus for an event, keeping them in a cooler once they’ve reached an ideal stage will help keep them fresh for use!
  • Be sure they get enough water, particularly after initial processing (if your ranunculus begins to droop, it’s likely they are not getting enough water). [5]

When to Send Ranunculus as a Gift

Since the ranunculus symbolizes charm, attractiveness, and having a crush, they make the perfect gift for that special someone!

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