Buttercup flowers

Friend or foe, the buttercup is growing in our garden.

There are probably more than 500 types of buttercup flowers. With so many varieties, it is not surprising that some would be quite different than others.

Is buttercup a weed?

Buttercup flowers

The creeping buttercup is considered a noxious weed here in the Pacific Northwest. You probably have this flower growing freely in your lawn or popping up in garden beds. The scientific name is ranunculus repens. This variety is difficult to control as their roots spread rapidly (as they are appropriately called "creeping".) It spreads both by seed and root and will fill a large area, killing or smothering other plants...except blackberry. I do not know of any plant that is good at smothering blackberry. They probably came to our area as a lovely new floral gift and then, like many other problem plants, took off and became invasive. A lawn mower is ineffective at permanently removing them. About the only ecologically friendly way of controlling this weed is to dig it out and prevent it from re-seeding.

See this link for more information: Creeping buttercup.

Also see Creeping buttercup as a noxious weed. Be forewarned, this is pretty scary reading. It is interesting to note, however, that even though this plant is toxic, dogs will generally leave it alone because of the unpleasant scent and taste. Puppies on the other hand...who knows? It is best to keep an eye on your puppy if you have creeping buttercup growing in your yard.

Which is the prettiest buttercup flower?

Unlike the not-so-friendly creeping buttercup, the Persian ranunculus, as is the scientific name, is a welcome addition to our garden. It is not a weed, but instead a lovely tuber and the prettiest of all varieties of the buttercup (in my opinion.) One could say that all flowers have their own beauty...even weeds.

What is especially nice about the Persian variety is they can be divided like many other bulbs and thus easily multiply their goodness to other chosen areas of the garden. You can dig them up after the flowers disappear in the summer if you choose. Doing so will ensure an even more promising growth the next year. Note that tubers can rot if the ground is too wet.

Persian buttercup also survive being dried out in mid-summer. If they disappear from your garden during an especially hot summer, don't panic, just wait for them to pop back the next year. There is one caveat. They are zone 8 plants. (See the USDA zone map in our blog about climate zones.) This means, if you live in the higher elevations around Seattle, your yard may be just a bit too cold for them; nonetheless, some varieties are quite hardy so I would suggest you give it a try.

Plant the tubers in the fall and they will pop up in mid-spring, flowering as early as March. You can give the tubers a short soak, but not too long. If they are going into a garden, odds are they will be wet enough to start growing. Plant them just below the surface of the soil. Most Persian ranunculus plants grow between 6 and 12 inches and have complex flowers, unlike the creeping buttercup which has one row of petals. The colors vary from white to bright orange, pink, red, and as you'd expect from the name, including yellow.

Contact us at Environmental Construction Inc. for help with planting bulbs, removing weeds, or any other garden maintenance. We offer a full-service Garden Stewardship Program to save you time and provide peace-of-mind.

Category:  Flowers in the landscape

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