by Jennifer Poindexter
Buttercups always make me take a deep breath because I know spring has finally arrived after a long, dreary winter.
Their bright colors are a reminder of what’s on the horizon in the coming months, and this makes me so happy every year.
If you’d like a cheery little flower to pop-up in your yard as a reminder that spring is on the way, you should consider planting buttercups.
They’re low-maintenance, easy-to-grow, and with over 400 varieties, there’s sure to be a buttercup right for you. Here’s what you need to know to grow your own buttercups.
Growing Conditions for Buttercups
Buttercups have specific growing conditions that need to be met to ensure they grow well and produce the desired beauty they’re known for.
Make sure to plant the buttercups in full to partial sunlight. The more sun they receive the brighter the blooms.
Soil makes a difference when growing these flowers. They need a fluffy soil that is also well-draining. Sandy soil is a good fit for buttercups because it allows moisture to drain away from the plant quickly.
By providing these basic growing conditions, your buttercups should do well and return each year as perennials in most planting zones.
How to Plant Buttercups
Buttercups are easy flowers. They produce a vast amount of beauty and require so little in return. This is why it shouldn’t be surprising that planting these beauties is a simple process, too.
Most gardeners have a hard time getting buttercups to grow from seed. Therefore, most plant them by dividing mature plants and transplanting the tubers.
Some gardeners also purchase bulbs from nurseries. Which method you choose will be up to you and what works best for your situation.
Either way, the planting process is pretty much the same. The one thing to keep in mind, if planting buttercups from bulbs, is to choose bulbs which are big and sturdy. The larger the bulb, the more plants inside.
This could equate to more flowers and blooms for your grow space. If planting from division, be sure to divide the plants in spring or fall.
Use a sharp spade to cut directly down the plant, separating the roots. This will form multiple smaller plants from one that’s overgrown.
Once you’re ready to plant, loosen the soil where it’s ready to receive a tuber, bulb, or root division. Place the tuber or bulb in such a way that the pointy end is directed into the soil, and plant them approximately two inches deep.
Continue planting each tuber in this way ensuring you put a half foot between each plant. The only difference between planting tubers or divisions from bulbs will be the spacing. Bulbs should be placed approximately one foot apart.
Be sure to water the plants at the time of planting. The only other items you should be made aware of when planting buttercups is to make sure you plant them after the threat of frost is over or in the fall before the ground has frozen.
The plants will remain dormant until the temperatures are approximately 60-degrees Fahrenheit during the day and hang around 50-degree Fahrenheit at night. These temperatures will break the plants’ dormancy and encourage them to begin blooming.
Follow these few simple steps when planting buttercups, and you should be in for a glorious display of color come spring.
Caring for Buttercups
When caring for buttercups, there are five basic needs: mulch, water, fertilize, deadhead, and tubers. Let’s start with mulch.
Buttercups need cooler temperatures to thrive. By surrounding the plant in mulch, it helps retain moisture which in turn keeps the soil temperatures cooler.
The cooler the temperatures remain, the longer the bloom cycle. Ensure your buttercups have mulch around them for these reasons.
It’s also a good idea to cover the entire plant with mulch when winter sets in. Wait until all foliage has died back to cover.
This will ensure the root system is protected during the brutal winter months. Basically, it helps protect your perennial investment.
Next, you must consider water. It isn’t about ensuring the buttercups receive enough water. It’s about ensuring you don’t overwater.
Water the buttercups during planting and leave them alone. Unless a period of drought sets in, they shouldn’t need water.
Knowing when to fertilize is another step in the care-process. Buttercups should only be fertilized in the spring. They don’t require a special fertilizer. Any general fertilizer will do.
However, ensure you fertilize your buttercup plants one time per month throughout the spring months. This will give the plant the boost of nutrients it needs to keep blooming.
Deadheading is something most plants need. When you pull the dead away from the plant, it leaves room for new growth. Again, this keeps your plants healthier and blooming.
Finally, buttercup tubers must be dealt with and they’re a free gift, so why wouldn’t you want to handle them?
Once you have an established buttercup plant, it will continue to produce to a point where it will smother itself. This is why it’s vital to divide most perennial plants.
To ensure your plants remain healthy, pull up the buttercup tubers once all the leaves have died off for the season.
Place the tubers in a cool, dry location to allow all moisture to be sucked out of them. This will prevent mold from forming and keep the tubers in quality shape for planting in the spring.
When spring rolls around, follow the same planting process outlined above to continue adding more color to your yard or garden with no out-of-pocket expense.
By following these few tips when caring for your buttercups, you should be pleasantly surprised at how wonderfully they grow for you.
Garden Pests and Diseases for Buttercups
Buttercups are known for being self-sustained, hearty plants. Therefore, they don’t have many enemies in this world. Who doesn’t love a plant that gives a great deal without requiring a ton of care in return?
However, you should be aware of a few pests and diseases which might threaten your beautiful buttercups.
The main pests which will await the chance to munch on your plants are birds, spider mites, leaf miners, and aphids.
Aphids are a common pest in most gardens. They live on the sap of your plant and will cause it to become discolored to the point of death.
Beat these pests by spraying your plants with soapy water. This will dislodge them from the plant, and you can follow-up with an insecticide. Treat your buttercups as needed because aphids are persistent.
Spider mites are difficult to see. You may notice their homes before you notice them because you’ll see webs stringing about your plants.
Again, spider mites can be sprayed with soapy water and treated with insecticidal soap as well. Keep a close eye on your plants and treat as needed.
Leaf miners will leave a design in the foliage of your buttercups. You can either treat with insecticidal soap, for larger infestations, or run your thumb and index finger along the designs in your leaves. These are actually little tunnels and you’re squishing the pests as you trace the design.
This will only work for minor infestations, so be mindful of your plants and assess the proper treatment plan based upon how many pests have moved in.
Finally, birds will attack your buttercups when they’re beginning to sprout. In all honesty, can you blame them? It has been a long winter, and your buttercups are one of the first signs of fresh, green foliage. The birds are excited for something fresh and new.
To keep them from destroying your plant’s shoots, you can cover the buttercups with bird netting or make a DIY scare crow with pie pans to keep the birds at bay.
Buttercups have a few diseases which threaten them as well. Be on the lookout for root rot, rust, and powdery mildew.
Root rot is caused because the buttercups were planted where the soil isn’t well-draining. If this happens, you must find a new location and transplant.
Cut away any rotten portion of the root system and allow the plant an afternoon in the sun to dry out before transplanting. This doesn’t have a 100% success rate but is worth a shot to save your plants.
Powdery mildew and rust are fungal diseases which are normally caused due to lack of airflow. Ensure your buttercups are spaced properly, and divided when needed, to avoid overcrowding.
If these diseases crop up on your buttercups, treat them with a fungicide, remove any damaged parts of the plant, and begin thinning out your buttercups to provide better airflow around them.
Buttercups are a gorgeous flower to brighten up any landscape. They’re also a cheerful reminder that spring is on the way.
Not to mention, they keep multiplying which provides a wonderful opportunity to beautify your yard on a budget. If all of this sounds desirable to you, plant a few buttercups, and give it a whirl! You might be pleasantly surprised.