Ranunculus Vs Peony: Key Differences

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By Arthur Mbanefo

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I can’t mention how many people still confuse ranunculus for a peony.

They ARE NOT the same flowers! 

Yes, you may have noticed the striking similarity between ranunculus Vs peony. They look alike, which might be misleading. But their bloom’s size says everything about them. 

The Ranunculus flower appears to be smaller, with a flatter shape than peonies. It also has more layers of petals Clumped in a circle. They have densely packed roses esque.

Meanwhile, peonies say otherwise, with a much larger bloom and more spacious petals.

And that is not the only difference. 

What Is Ranunculus? 

Ranunculus is a buttercup flowering plant from the family Ranunculaceae, known for its distinct cup-shaped flowers with bountiful layers of soft petals.

They are most valuable for their ornamental potential, garden beauty, and floral arrangements. 

Ranunculus has over 600 species with diverse colors, sizes, and growth habits –with that, you can customize your space to your taste. 

However, the Persian butter cup is the most cultivated species, with exceptional beauty.

What Is Peony? 

Peony hails from the genus Paeonia, which belongs to the family Paeoniaceae. 

It is a fragrant, semi-double, and lush blooming plant native to Europe, Asia, and North America. 

The petals are delicate and somewhat sparse. Its opulent blooms emit a sweet and pleasant fragrance, making it a popular choice for floral arrangements, bouquets, and gardens. 

Furthermore, Peony has about 33 known species, each with blooms that can come in pink, white, red, yellow, and even coral. 

Ranunculus Vs Peony

This section gives a  more comprehensive comparison between ranunculus vs peony in their respective characteristics: 

Ranunculus Vs Peony: Flower

The flower shape is the most noticeable difference between the ranunculus and the peony. As I said, the Ranunculus flower appears to be smaller, with a flatter shape than peonies. 

It also has more layers of petals Clumped in a circle. And they are densely packed like roses.

However, peonies are much larger with more spacious petals.

Ranunculus Vs Peony: Growth Habits

Ranunculus is a more mellowed bloomer than peony. It has a compact and low-growing habit. 

I can speak the same for all cultivars, but their signature feathery and finely-cut green foliage always catches up with them. 

Peony, on the other hand, grows bushy and upright. Under the right conditions, they can grow taller and live as perennials. 

They have dark green, glossy, and lobed foliage, contrary to the ranunculus’s feathery leaves. 

Ranunculus Vs Peony: Blooming Seasons

Peonies will reward your garden with abundant blooms, creating this luxurious aura in late spring to early summer.

Whereas Ranunculus starts giving signals of blooms in late winter and shoots nicely in early spring. 

Although each of these blooming seasons can be altered based on the flower variety and your climate. 

Ranunculus Vs Peony: Propagating 

These plants share a lot in their planting requirements, from their daily sunlight dosage of full sun to partial shade to consistent moist soil that is well-draining. 

However, there is a slight difference in propagation. 

Ranunculus propagates from corms —that small, bulb-like structure in the plant that stores nutrients—dug up well-draining soil about 2 to 3 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart as you sow them. 

Ranunculus are planted in the fall, requiring cold dormancy to sprout —and mostly cultivated as annuals.

Meanwhile, you propagated peonies mostly through division, although you can also sow from the seeds. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is peony The king Of flowers?

This is quite a controversial topic, as other flowers (more beautiful) could be competing for that title.

But here is why I think peony is the “King Of Flowers” or the “Queen Of The Garden”: 

Aside from the irreplaceable opulent appearance and luxurious fragrance likened to royalty, the peonies have strong historical cultivation and cultural significance, especially in China and Japan, where they are mostly called the “king of flowers.” 

Is Ranunculus An Expensive Flower?

Contrary to the preconceived notion that the ranunculus could be expensive due to its beauty, it is actually cheap.  It’s a lot cheaper than you thought. 

Ranunculus is going for less than $5 per stem. And a ranunculus bouquet would be worth $25. 

It is even cheaper when it blooms the most in the springs and is readily available as a cut flower. 

And even though you buy themin larger quantities or bulk, it won’t sum up, as many suppliers are willing to give discounts for large orders. 

However, pricing could differ depending on your location and the availability of local growers and suppliers.

What Are Peonies Substitutes?

It is extremely hard to replicate the luxurious appearance and elegance of the peony; only a few flowers can do this: 

However, they are only reminiscences of the peony characteristics, but there is a huge margin still. As such, you will notice the absence of your peony.  

But at least these substitutes will hold the fort in the garden: 

Conclusion

In the end, both flowering plants are unique in their own way. 

Ranunculus isn’t better than peony; neither is the latter better than formal. 

Both plants are highly sought after for their exceptional beauty and usage in floral arrangements, bouquets, and gardens.

However, each flowering plant caters to different preferences and growing conditions.

Our job is to show how they differ in appearance, growth habits, bloom season, and more.

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