Just a few years ago, the yellow-flowering Adonis was found growing in the wild in almost all of Europe. It has become a rarity in Germany. This may be because Adonis vernalis has been valued as a medicinal plant since ancient times. The displacement and development of the natural locations, such as grasslands and sunny slopes, also contribute to the rabid decline of the Adonis beauty. One more reason to cultivate the delicate plant as an ornamental flower in the home garden. The rare and strictly protected plant makes some demands on “its” gardener.


  • Adonis belong to the buttercup family.
  • The perennial herbaceous plant can reach a height of up to 50 cm.
  • Under ideal weather conditions, the yellow flowers open as early as late February or early March.
  • The yellow flowers of the Spring Adonis are only open when the sun is shining.
  • All parts of the Adonis vernalis plant are poisonous and not suitable for consumption.
  • The deciduous leaves wither in summer, the plants withdraw into the ground.

Location and substrate

The Adonis likes it sunny and warm. Large, shade-giving plant neighbors are perceived as a disruption. Avoid partially shaded and shady places. This is the only way to enjoy the splendor of Adonis vernalis’ flowers. When looking for the optimal location, one thing must be taken into account: the plant with the pinnate leaves is poisonous. In humans and animals alike. Children playing and pets should not be able to get near the plants. Consumption of the plant can lead to severe symptoms of poisoning in humans and four-legged friends.
Due to the long and widely ramified roots of Adonis vernalis, it is advisable to choose a location that is free from underground construction work. Pipes and pipes running in the ground cannot be damaged themselves, but they can make it more difficult for the plants to absorb water and nutrients. The substrate must meet special requirements. While other flowering plants need a soil rich in humus, it cannot be lean enough for the Adonis.

  • Loose, sandy substrate is preferred.
  • A high lime content in the soil promotes growth.
  • Prepare loamy garden soil with large amounts of sand and lime.

The buttercup plant is the ideal companion plant for semi-arid and dry lawns. In the stone bed, the plant brings color to the rocky landscape. The spring adonis flower can be combined well with other relatives, such as the summer adonis flower (Adonis aestivalis) and the fiery red devil’s eye (Adonis flammea). Slopes or hill beds are ideal for the early flowering plants. Due to the slight incline, excess rainwater can drain away more quickly.

Watering and fertilizing

As a steppe plant, the Adonis has a widely branched root system that extends up to 80 cm in depth. With this, the plant is able to draw water from the lower soil layers even in long periods of drought and is not dependent on rain or irrigation water. Young and freshly planted Spring Adonis must be watered regularly in the first year.

  • Calcareous water does not harm the plants.
  • It is poured in the early morning or in the late afternoon.
  • Water moderately on frost-free days in the cold season.

You should mulch the soil 2 to 3 times a year so that the irrigation and rainwater can easily drain away. Be careful not to damage the plant. A heavily compacted soil can affect even the robust Adonis vernalis enormously. You can remedy this with fine pebbles. These are mixed generously under the substrate. Like a kind of natural drainage, they ensure that rainwater is drained away from the surface more quickly. At the same time, nutrients and oxygen reach the deeper layers of the earth more easily. An advantage from which other plants in the neighborhood can also benefit. The small stones in the ground have no negative impact on maintenance and gardening.

The plants with the feathery foliage feel comfortable in a nutrient-poor substrate. Adonis are sensitive to excessive care. This does not mean that you should leave the plant entirely to its own devices. Spread a small amount of horn shavings or compost annually and work this material into the soil.

Tip : Due to the downward-striving, long roots, it is not advisable to cultivate the Spring Adonis in a planter. The plant cares and hardly develops flowers.


The easy-care Adonis beauty likes to be undisturbed. The plant needs time to develop undisturbed. Choose a spot in your garden that meets these requirements. The best time to transplant is in late summer. The buttercups can get used to the new planting location and collect reserves for the cold season. Adonis vernalis is easy to plant:

  • The planting hole should be twice the width and about 1/3 more depth than the root network.
  • Prepare conventional garden soil according to the requirements of the buttercup plant.
  • Spread small amounts of compost in the planting hole.
  • Insert the Adonis and refill the substrate.
  • Pour on vigorously.

The compact perennial plant can reach a height of 50 cm and is particularly effective in group planting. Up to ten plants are planted per square meter. The Adonis also cuts a fine figure with other plants that have similar requirements in terms of location and substrate. Equivalent plants are, for example:

  • Corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas)
  • Blaue Kornblumen (Cyanus segetum Hill)
  • White pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Alba’)
  • Stengel-Silberdistel (Carlina acaulis ssp. Simplex)

When planting, keep a minimum distance of about 20 cm between the individual plants. The Adonis is also an ideal plant for gravel beds.

Tip : Due to the roots, older plants can only be moved with great effort.


In contrast to other perennial perennials, Adonis vernalis does not reproduce via root division. Not only that the roots of the plant often protrude up to 1 m deep into the ground. The Adonis is sensitive to any kind of disturbance. Even the slightest damage to the root network can lead to the death of the plant. If you want to cultivate the buttercup family in your own perennial bed, you don’t have to start a foray through numerous nurseries. All you need is seeds that you can obtain from specialist retailers or gardeners friends. This type of propagation is a pure game of patience, because Adonis vernalis is anything but germ-free. Often the difficulties begin with collecting the fine seeds. Arranged as green grains around a spindle, they are a treat for ants and mice. The seeds are harvested when they are still green. In this “milk maturity” the grains germinate relatively quickly.

  • Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for a few hours so that the grains can soak up.
  • A warm, light location with sandy loam is required for germination.
  • Cover the seeds only minimally with substrate.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist and remove annoying weeds on a regular basis.

All seeds do not always germinate reliably. For this reason, it is important to sow as many grains as possible at once. The first green shoots appear by late summer, but only sprout vigorously in the warm spring of the following year. It is worthwhile to loosely cover the seedlings with brushwood to protect them from frostbite. From March onwards you can prick out the young spring Adonis and transplant them to their final location. In the first growth phase, the plants need nutrients. The small roots of the buttercup family are not yet able to pull the important minerals out of the ground. Mix the soil with compost or humus.

For targeted germination, you can scatter the seeds of Adonis vernalis in a shallow planter. The location and composition of the substrate remain the same. The advantage: You have an overview of what is germinating in the tub and you can immediately remove unwanted plants in a targeted manner. It can take 2 to 3 years for the first flowers to develop. Do not lose patience.

Tip : If the Adonis flower feels at home in the place where it is planted, it likes to actively contribute to its reproduction. If necessary, remove the seeds in good time to prevent this from happening.

To cut

A pruning of the Adonis vernalis is not necessary. Simply cut back withered or dead leaves and shoots close to the ground. Make sure you have adequate protection so that you do not come into contact with the plant sap. The tools used should also be adequately cleaned. At the same time, you avoid fungal pathogens and germs from spreading unchecked in the garden and infecting other plants.


Older buttercups are hardy, bald frost and double-digit minus temperatures cannot harm them. Seedlings and freshly planted adonis are an exception.

  • Protect the plants with bark mulch, brushwood or withered leaves.
  • Remove the material in good time before budding in spring.
  • Pour small amounts of water on dry, frost-free winter days.

When sowing in the planter, you should also prepare for the cold season: In winter, the bucket is wrapped with burlap and covered with withered leaves or brushwood.

Pests and diseases

Damaging insects and fungal pathogens or germs can affect the plants in the garden enormously. In the event of severe infestation, in some cases it is unavoidable to completely remove the plants to protect the other perennials. With the Adonis it is snails that literally like to eat the finely feathered leaves. The slimy journeyman gardeners manage to level all of the plants to the ground within a few nights. If you want to enjoy the bloom in the same year, remedial action should be taken quickly:

  • Collect the snails regularly at dusk.
  • Promote predators in the garden, such as hedgehogs and tiger snails.
  • Plant unpleasant plants to border the bed, such as chamomile and bracken.
  • Sprinkle coffee grounds around the badly affected plants.
  • Spread a thick layer of sand around the beds.

The list of ways to control slugs is huge. Not all measures always work reliably. This applies to coffee grounds as well as to the plants that are supposed to keep the pests away. Do not use chemicals to protect small mammals and beneficial insects. One of the best preventive methods was a balanced variety of plant species in the garden. As a result, the pests find food everywhere in the garden and are easier to keep away from the beloved ornamental plants. A well-intentioned tip: Hands off the often mentioned “beer traps”. The smell not only attracts your own snails. Even the slimy fellows from the neighborhood won’t be able to resist the stale beer.


The hardy Adonis is a robust, perennial plant. In terms of location and care, Adonis vernalis has some special requirements for the passionate hobby gardener. Once the buttercup has gained a foothold in its own garden, it will delight you with its yellow flowers every spring.

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