Thursday, March 08, 2012

Ranunculus 2012 - Planting Time

OK so I purchased 1,200 Ranunculus corms off Garden Express to plant in the garden. Note: this garden is in the Southern Hemisphere so planting conditions/months are different than USA and UK.

They corms came in January but they have to get a cold start if you wish to have them flowering in June/July and not in September (Spring).

I placed them in the fridge for 4 weeks as recommended by one New Zealand website. Another site recommended 8 weeks minimum. I chose the former.

I thought that by planting early in mid February - the ranunculus would have the benefit of the extra sunny conditions . On 2nd thoughts this is probably a mistake because mid-Feb is still Summer and the days can approach the high 30Cs. Apparently if the weather gets too hot, the corms fall backwards into dormancy.

I pulled them out of the fridge on 16th Feb and planted 200 of them in the garden bed opposite my study room. During that week the temperature rose to the high 30s for a few days. (Its roughly 2+weeks, 20 days, and I can see two of them sprouting.)

Because the weather was so hot, I decided to return the rest of the remaining ranunculus corms (1,000 of them) back into the fridge.

The hesitancy to plant may have had more fatal consequences for the rest of the stock.

When I took them out on the 28th Feb, they had a slightly pungent odor. I noticed that white moss (like cotton wool threads) was wrapped around some of the corms.

I placed them in a bucket of water to "plump" them up before planting. Some advice 14 hours - so I kept them overnight. I did not drown them in water - but did give them a good soaking.

The next day they were all fat like bananas. I planted half of them but didn't have time to do the rest.

When I checked them the day after they stank and a thick layer of white moss covered the top layer.

I suspect it was the hot and humid conditions - plus the fact that they were all wet that encouraged the fungus to thrive.


I soaked them in a white vinegar solution - half vinegar, half water - to try and kill that damn white fungus. And dried them out for a day.

They might be all dead. But might as well give it a try. What do I have to lose now?

By now, I'm running out of garden space to plant them - they only like sunny positions, sloped positions in the garden. They do not like shade so that excludes a large portion of the garden nearer the house which gets a fair bit of shade.

I planted the rest on the top garden bed - which was the original site where I first planted the ranunculus way back in 2002.

The fact that some of the 1st batch have sprouted - despite the appalling hot conditions - does give me some hope.

I don't know whether the white mold has killed the rest - only time can tell, ie. 2 to 3 weeks.

(Postscript - yes, I think virtually all of them didn't make it)

At the moment, we are getting plenty of rain so that's good. But we need to have more sunny days to encourage growth.

In the future, it will be much safer if I plant the corms on the 1st week of March - after storing them for 1+ month in the fridge (Jan-Feb). Planting them in mid-Feb was too risky due to the very hot days.

And it might be better to store than in a bar fridge or a fridge which I'm not using for daily use. The constant opening and closing is bound to affect the poor buggers.

Soaking them in water does help - but I'll be more careful to only soak the ones that I intend to plant on that day only. No point soaking the entire batch if only 200 can be planted at one time.

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