By Jovita Mirembe
Buttercup, also called crowfoot, are large genus flowers of about 300 species of herbaceous flowering plants in the family of Ranunculaceae.
Joan Kizza, a gardener says the plant got its name buttercup because it looks like a cup filled with butter.
It has bright attractive flowers which come in shades of yellow, red, orange, pink, white and lavender which are a magnet for the sun rays.
This leads to more pollinators visiting it.
“Although the buttercup is a lovely flower, its leaves and stems contain ranunculin, a glucose that forms the toxic burning agent that is poisonous when eaten by humans and cattle. If swallowed, ranunculin causes paralysis, convulsions and can also lead to death,” Kizza said.
She, however, says when the plant is dry, the poison is not active.
How buttercup is propagated
Moses Businge, another gardener says buttercups can be propagated by dividing the tubers and removing offsets.
He says this is the most common method of propagation, although the plant can also be propagated through seedling.
“When propagated by seeds, germination will usually take place within 10 and 15 days. When the seedlings grow to have four or more leaves, they are ready to be transplanted to bigger containers so that they can grow a bit more before being moved to the flower garden or into bigger flower pots,” Businge says.
According to him, this plant prefers the full sun or light shade and grows best in moist, well-drained soil.
“Buttercups are very particular about soil choices than most flowers because they need light and cool, well-drained soil. When growing buttercups in a warm and sunny climate, mulching around the base of the plants is crucial because it keeps the soil at a cooler temperature,” Businge said.
Pests and prevention
Kizza says buttercups are commonly affected by powdery mildew, a fungal disease which can be prevented by spraying pesticides.
He says aphids, which are small green insects that infest buttercups feast on the sweet sap that flows through the flower stems.
“While aphids can be removed by hand, it is advisable to spray your plant with a mixture of mild dish soap, water and essential oils. This makes your plants unattractive to them,” Kizza adds.