In this second article on growing ranunculus and anemones, Jonathan Leiss writes on growing and harvesting the plants.
Once anemones and ranunculus have started to grow, they are quite a cold hardy as long as the ground doesn’t freeze. We leave them uncovered on all but the coldest nights to minimize disease. Under two layers of row cover, they have survived air temperatures of 5°F in our high tunnel.
Rather than cold, we have found managing water, disease, and pests to be the main challenges. Pests and disease can show up suddenly and quickly spiral out of control in high-density hoop house plantings. So, we recommend making a plan for prevention and mitigation and being ready to tackle these challenges before they show up.
Once the plants have sprouted, we keep the soil barely moist until the plants are actively growing. We test this by sticking our finger all the way into the ground. We only water if it emerges with no soil stuck to it. I asked Dave Dowling, formerly a cut flower farmer and now a sales representative for Ball ColorLink, about common rookie mistakes made growing anemones and ranunculus; water management topped his list.
“Overwatering plants that don’t need water yet is probably the biggest mistake new growers make,” Dowling replied. “Soak, pre-sprout, and plant. Water once, then walk away. No more water unless the soil is bone dry, then water lightly if needed. Once plants have foliage to use the water, water more, but still lightly until they are large enough to use a full, deep watering. Once flower buds and stems are forming, make sure they are watered enough. At that point, lack of water will reduce yield and result in smaller flowers.”
Anemones and ranunculus are highly susceptible to fungal diseases. For this reason, it is important to manage moisture and humidity carefully. We use row cover rarely — only on very cold nights or when we are protecting buds from frost — and we remove it and ventilate the hoop house as early as possible each day. When we irrigate or spray, we do it early in the morning and only on warm days when the hoop house will be open. With careful water management, we have mostly avoided outbreaks of botrytis and root rots. Nevertheless, our ranunculus usually does get powdery mildew toward the end of the season. Use your preferred methods for preventing and treating powdery mildew.
Read the complete article at www.growingformarket.com.