Anemones and Ranunculus are, quite simply, stunning.
And you can start them any time in October - IF you have some way to protect them over winter - read on below for details...
I've talked about them together here as you can follow the same sowing instructions for both - and in fact sow them all at the same time to make life easier.
I buy all my Anemone and Ranunculus corms from Farmer Gracy.
Anemones are one of the first flowers to arrive in the cut flower patch if sown in the Autumn, arriving as early as February - and with each plant producing up to 25 or 30 flowers, these things flower and flower and flower and flower. These are followed quickly by the Ranunculus and both will go on flowering for 8-10 weeks if sown in the Autumn, or until the weather becomes hot in early summer.
They also look really fancy and as if they'd be really hard to grow, but they're actually remarkably simple - as long as the mice don't get them before they've had a chance to get going.
When to start them?
It is widely advised that you only start anemones and ranunculus in the Autumn if you have some way of protecting them over the winter such as a polytunnel to plant them out into. If the anemone corms fall below -7C for example, they will freeze and then rot as they thaw (not great obvs!) and although they are hardy plants, they will need protection through the worst of the winter - and their flowers can easily be damaged by strong wind, rain and frost.
I will share with you, however, my own personal experience.
In the Autumn, I planted both in the "proper" polytunnel I had - they ALL without fail, were stolen and munched by mice. However I had had a go at doing things my own way and planted some in my raised beds and then added some garden hoops with a layer of horticultural fleece and they THRIVED. So you can get around 'don't start in Autumn if you don't have a polytunnel or greenhouse rule' but know that you are taking a risk.
I started with this mini-polytunnel - it was rubbish and the plastic all split in the first wind.
So then I removed the plastic and draped horticultural fleece over the hoops instead and pinned the whole thing together with clothes pegs. (I'm so fancy!). Your main challenge then becomes preventing the cats from sitting on them or digging them up because it's toasty and warm in there.
And here was the result by May when they were in full bloom (after a pretty rubbish start to the year weather-wise). The anemones are in the foreground and you can just see the ranunculus in the background.
If in doubt, and you're not the adventurous type wait until Spring (you can start them in late February) but know you'll be dead jealous when you start to see those Autumn-sown beauties on your instagram feed months before you have a single flower. C'est la vie.
They don't start life looking pretty. When they arrive, take them out of the box and keep them somewhere cool and dark where the air can circulate until you're ready to sow them in October.
These are what you can expect your anemone corms to looks like (in case you get freaked out when you open the bag).
And your Ranunculus which are even weirder.
I make a plan of what is going where and usually sow the bulk in Autumn, and leave a few in reserve for a Spring sowing.
When you're ready to go, soak them first in room temperature water for 3-4 hours. You'll notice them bulk up as they absorb the water and then you're ready to go.
Tip: Make sure you plan your day properly! If you leave them in water for longer because you went out shopping and forgot about them, you are increasing the chances of them starting to rot.
Take a module tray or seed tray and add a layer of (peat-free) compost then sow your corm either one into each module or spread across the seed tray with the pointed end down in the case of anemones and the 'legs' down with your ranunculus.
Cover completely and leave somewhere cool (by now the temperatures are usually cool enough that a greenhouse is just fine) until they begin to sprout (usually 10-14 days). Make sure the soil stays moist but not too wet - the danger here is over-watering and that will cause them to...guess what....rot. (They love a good rot these things!)
This is the stage at which they are most beloved by mice so put them somewhere completely unreachable - (and in my case add a clear lid to the tray and sellotape it down so the cannot be touched!).
Whip the lid off the minute the first one sprouts.
Continue to grow them on in their modules until they are fist-sized before planting them out into your polytunnel or beds (remember the frost cloth as soon as the temperatures start to dip).
Space them 15cm apart so you can get LOADS into a bed.
Worry about them, worry about them, worry about them all winter long.
(Or don't if you've got better things to do with your mind)
Roughly 90 days after you have sowed them, your first flowers will start to appear. The stems will be short initially but don't worry. Cut them for jam jar posies from the base of the stem and more will shoot up, getting longer and longer throughout the season.
This was taken on in mid-February. The first stems will be very short when they start to flower - don't panic -simply cut them right down close to the ground and new, longer stems will start to appear.
As these buds start to appear - this was when I started my Spring-sown anemones and ranunculus - following the same process as above.
If you want anemones to last as long as possible, cut them as the flower starts to unfurl from the bud.
And for Ranunculus - cut them when they are at 'marshmallow stage' - see this little video:
Condition them - which simply means to leave them in a bucket full of cool water in a dark place like a garage for a few hours or overnight and then arrange.
Be prepared to be smitten.