Gardeners who love the look of the exotic Himalayan blue poppy, but are unsuccessful in growing it, should try the much more forgiving anemone flower. The flowers of these spring or fall blooming bulbs are a hot trend in wedding bouquets, and also make the garden come alive in vibrant red, white, pink, yellow, and purple shades. Anemone flowers have a simple, daisy-like shape and lobed foliage. Some anemone varieties feature double flowers, similar to a frilly, oversized mum.
The family Ranunculaceae is a generous contributor to flower gardens. In addition to the genus Anemone, other members of the family include delphinium, clematis, and ranunculus. Anemones are often referred to as windflowers from the Greek word for wind "anemos."
- Botanical name: Anemone
- Common name: Anemone, windflowers, poppy anemone
- Plant type: Perennial
- Mature size: Depends on the variety, 6 inches to 4 feet tall
- Sun exposure: Full sun, partial sun
- Soil type: Rich and moist
- Soil pH: Slightly acidic to neutral
- Bloom time: Spring, fall
- Flower color: Red, orange, yellow-green, blue, purple, red-purple, white, ivory, and pink
- Hardiness zones: 5 through 10
- Native area: Temperate zones
How to Grow Anemones
Choose your planting time based on the blooming cycle of your anemones. Plant spring bloomers in the fall, and fall bloomers in the spring. Anemone flowers are low maintenance plants. Leave the foliage in place to nourish the bulbs after flowering.
Anemones should be placed where it can receive full or half day sun. Some varieties thrive more in partial shade.
Plant anemones in well-drained soil. Before planting, you can improve the soil by adding compost, leaf mold, or other organic matter.
Water the plants regularly when it does not rain. Keep the soil lightly moist. Water slowly, allowing the soil to absorb as much water as possible. Some varieties have special water needs, for example, wood anemone (A. nemorosa) dies to the ground in midsummer and does not need water until it regrows.
Temperature and Humidity
The recommended temperatures for growing anemones is 58 to 65 F during the day and 42 to 50 F at night. The optimum temperature for efficient flower initiation may be lower than 54 degrees.
If desired, you can add some bone meal to the soil in the fall for spring bloomers or in the spring for fall bloomers to give the bulbs a nutrient boost.
The fading foliage of spring bloomers is usually insignificant enough to wither away unnoticed, so you will not need to prune it for a tidy looking garden. Taller fall-blooming varieties may look shabby after the first frost, so shear dead growth during early winter clean up.
Plant several dozen spring-blooming anemones around your tulips and daffodils, or plant large drifts of anemones in wooded areas, where they can naturalize undisturbed. Place your spring-blooming anemones near the front of your borders or at the edges of paths, and do not worry about browsing deer, which generally find this flower unpalatable. Fall-blooming anemones fill in gaps between mounding chrysanthemum plants.
It is hard to believe that the wizened little tubers of anemone plants will amount to anything. The first step in bringing them back to life is to give them a good soaking to hydrate them. Place them in a bucket of warm water for a few hours.
Plant your anemones in a site with rich to average garden loam and good drainage. Raised beds are essential in gardens with heavy clay soil, as bulbs will rot after a wet winter.
Unlike many bulbs that have a distinct shape that indicates how you should orient them in the planting hole, anemones are lumpy and irregular. Site your anemones where they will receive at least a half day of sun. You can place them under the dappled shade of a deciduous tree canopy, where the plants can soak up energy-providing rays before the trees leaf out. Place them 2 inches under the soil, 1 inch apart, in any direction, and let nature dictate the proper growth of the roots and stems. If you have skipped the pre-soaking step, be sure to give the newly planted tubers a good watering to trigger growth.
Varieties to Grow
Be generous when you plant the petite spring anemones; these low-growing plants that range from 3 to 15 inches look best in groups of 50 or more.
Anemone blanda adapts well outdoors and is hardy in zones 5 through 9. Anemone coronaria, the poppy-like bloom with black centers that are popular in floral arrangements, is only reliably hardy in zones 8 through 10. The Japanese anemone blooms abundantly from mid-summer to late fall, giving gardeners a shade-loving alternative to the sun-drenched mums and asters of autumn. Anemone japonica types not only bloom later but also tend to be taller types suited for the middle or back of the border. Early spring blooming types like Anemone sylvestris do not have time to attain great heights and belong at the front of the border.
Other varieties include:
- Hollandia has red flowers and sports a white eye around black stamens.
- Lieutenant features double blue flowers that look brilliant alone or with a stand of early yellow tulips.
- Mr. Fokker blooms early and has a single violet flower with black stamens.
- Mt. Everest has double white flowers with green stamens.
- St. Brigid will produce a semi-double to fully double flower in a mix of white, pink, purple, and blue.
- Whirlwind begins to bloom in August and refreshes faded gardens.