The Asiatic Ranunculus is one of the most splendid class of florist's flowers in cultivation; but, unfortunately, our climate is so uncongenial for its perfection, and it requires so much skill and care, that it has received but little attention in the vicinity of Boston, except by a few individuals. To have this splendid flower in all its beauty and strength, it should be kept growing very moderately all winter; but our climate is so severe that this is impossible, in the open air, without too much covering, which would cause the plants to become drawn and weakened in such a manner as to be ruined. In a green-house this may be done; but how shall they be managed in the open air? Samuel Walker, Esq., formerly President of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, has been the most successful of any person in this neighborhood, in blooming the Ranunculus in the open air. I shall therefore give his directions, as published in Hovey's Magazine, August 3, 1844.
Directions For The Cultivation And Planting Of The Ranunculus.
"The soil should be trenched eighteen or twenty inches, and composed of good rich loam, to which add one sixth part of very old, well rotted cow-manure, and the same quantity of clay, broken into small pieces; add to this a little sand, and thoroughly mix the whole; if the soil binds, add some sandy peat; make the bed on a level with the path or walks; the plants would do. better if the bed was below, rather than above, the level.
"Having prepared the soil, as above, some time during the summer or autumn, take the earliest opportunity, in the spring succeeding, to stir up the bed one spit, and take off one and a half inch of the soil; then place the plants in an upright position on the surface, six inches apart each way, and replace the soil carefully, which will cover the crown of the Ranunculus about one and a half inch; deeper planting would be injurious. After the plants appear, keep them free from weeds and press the soil firmly around them after they get two inches high. If the weather prove dry, water them freely early in the morning, and shade them from the sun from nine A. M. to three o'clock, P. M. As soon as the foliage becomes yellow, take the roots up, and dry them thoroughly in the shade, and keep them in a dry place.
"The Ranunculus loves a cool and moist location, but no stagnant water should be permitted, nor should they be placed under the shade or drippings of trees. The morning sun, free circulation of air, and shade, as directed, will ensure success."
The root of the Ranunculus is a cluster of small tubers, like claws, united in the crown, which send up several bipartite leaves and an erect, branched stem, eight or twelve inches high, with a terminating flower variously colored. Unless good varieties are obtained, and the roots sound and plump, it is best not to attempt their cultivation. The varieties are endless, - of every color and combination of color that Flora paints with.
A fine double Ranunculus should have a well-formed blossom, at least two inches in diameter, hemispherical in shape, the petals imbricated in regular shape, - the largest outside, and gradually diminishing in size as they approach the centre of the flower, which should be well filled with them. The petals should be broad, with entire, well-rounded edges; their color should be dark, clear, rich or brilliant, either consisting of one color throughout, or be otherwise variously diversified, on an ash, white, sulphur, or fire-colored ground, or regularly striped, spotted, or mottled in an elegant manner.
There is another species of Ranunculus, called Great Turban, or Great Turkey Ranunculus, producing large, double, and very brilliant flowers. The roots are similar to the other species, and the mode of cultivation the same. The varieties are not so numerous; the colors are crimson, yellow and brown, yellow, white speckled, dark brown, etc.