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Bringing Home the Splendor

April 10, 1999|JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS

Ranunculus thrive in Orange County. Though planting millions of bulbs is impossible, you can include some of the magic of these charming flowers in your own garden. Michael Cardosa shares these tips:

* Ranunculus tubers are generally available in the fall at garden centers and are best planted in fall or winter. You can plant them until the end of April; just don't expect as big a show this year. The plants are also available potted and in full bloom at the Flower Fields and some nurseries.

* Plant ranunculus in a full sun in well-draining soil. They grow 1 to 2 feet high and look good in beds and borders. Mixed colors look good in small beds, while single colors light up larger areas, such as long borders. Ranunculus also do well in containers in high-quality potting soil.

* Water during active growth when the soil approaches dryness. Be careful not to over-water, which will cause rotting.

* Fertilize ranunculus once every two to three weeks with an all-purpose rose food, according to package directions. If well cared for, they can produce more than 25 blooms per plant in a season.

* When the plant has stopped blooming, let the foliage die back completely; then dig up the tubers, shake free of soil and cut off the foliage. Store in a cool, dry place in a paper bag or on open trays, not in plastic bags. The tubers do not need to be refrigerated.

* Plant tubers the following fall or winter for a whole new round of blooms come spring.

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