The buttercups form a very large genus of some 400 species and a similar number of cultivars and hybrids. Most gardeners will know those that are invasive weeds. In fact even these are rather beautiful, but their rampant nature usually makes us blind to this. However, even these can be grown in a meadow or wild garden where they can be appreciated. Fortunately there are many other, much more well-behaved, species that can be grown in the garden with safety.
All have the simple saucer-shaped flowers and are mainly either shining yellow or glistening white in colour but there are also pink and red forms. Some have very attractive foliage, but many are of only average interest. Although there are annual species it is the perennials that are mainly of interest to gardeners. There are plants for every situation, full sun, shade, dry soils and even running water. Some are very small and need the attention of an alpine gardener, while others are big and sturdy and are suitable for large borders and more general gardening. When growing buttercups from seed, always sow it while it is still fresh.