Anemones are unbelievably productive, sometimes producing as many as 20 blooms per bulb. Also known as windflowers, these stunning flowers come in shades of red, pink, white, purple, and yellow, generally with daisy-shaped or poppy-like blossoms. If you're looking for a vibrant, dependable bloomer for a garden bed, container, or just about anywhere, consider planting a few anemones.
When to Plant Anemones
Depending on your climate, as well as whether you're planting anemones in the garden or in a container, anemone bulbs (really, corms, but to keep it simple, people usually just call them bulbs) are planted in either spring or fall. They usually bloom about three months after planting.
- If you live in Zone 6 or warmer, you can plant anemones in fall for spring bloom, and then again in spring for fall bloom, if you wish.
- If you live in a place colder than Zone 6 (or where it reaches temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter), your best bet is to pre-sprout the corms indoors and then plant them out in the garden about a month before your last spring frost, which is usually when the danger of hard freezes has passed.
How to Plant Anemone Bulbs
Anemones are pretty easy to plant. The thing that usually confuses gardeners about planting anemones is that (unless you've pre-sprouted them) there's no easy way to tell which end of the corm is up. The good news is, unlike many bulbs, it really doesn't matter. They'll sprout no matter how they're planted, and the shoot will make its way up through the soil.
As noted above, there are two ways to plant anemones: pre-sprouting them, which is recommended if you live in a cold climate, and just planting the corm in the garden, which works well in warmer areas.
To Pre-Sprout Anemone Corms:
Pre-sprouting anemone corms is easy, and it will give you a jump on the growing season as well as protect the corms from deep freezes, which will end up causing the corms to rot.
- Soak the corms for three to four hours in warm water, agitating the water every once in a while. This will help them root and sprout more readily.
- Fill a shallow container or tray with about two inches of moist potting soil.
- Place the soaked corms on top of the soil, then cover them with more soil so they're completely buried.
- Place the tray or container in an area that's consistently around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for two weeks. It doesn't need particularly bright light, since you'll be planting the corms outside once they sprout.
- Check the soil regularly to make sure it stays moist. If it starts to feel dry, mist or gently sprinkle with water.
- Once they've sprouted, and once you're past reaching low temperatures colder than 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can plant anemones out into the garden. Follow the steps below for planting into the garden.
To Plant Anemones Directly Into the Garden:
If you live in an area that really doesn't get below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can plant directly into the garden either in late fall or late winter/early spring.
- Amend the soil with plenty of compost; anemones grow best with rich, fertile soil.
- Plant the corms about six inches apart and two to three inches deep.
- Water well.
- Be ready to protect the corms from deep freezes. A row cover or light blanket will work and it's a good idea to have something on hand, just in case.
Where to Plant Anemone: Light and Soil Requirements
Anemones grow best in full sun to partial shade. They need at least four hours of sunlight per day.
Rich, moist soil is ideal for growing anemones, and they do best in slightly acidic soil, though that varies a bit by species. They're fairly adaptable, growing well in Zones 5 through 10, again, depending on the type.
Watering and Fertilizing
Since anemones prefer moist soil, you'll have to make sure they're getting at least an inch of water per week, either via rain or irrigation. They might need to be watered more often during very hot weather.
Aside from adding plenty of compost at planting time, you can also add bone meal to the soil (add it in fall if you're growing spring-blooming anemones, and in spring if you're growing fall-blooming anemones). This will add important nutrients to the soil and can result in healthier plants and more vigorous blooming.
You really don't need to prune anemones. The foliage is small and unobtrusive enough that it's barely even noticeable as it starts to fade. Some of the taller cultivars might look a little messier, and if so, feel free to cut off the dead foliage--just be sure to wait until the foliage has withered and died, since the leaves are absorbing energy that the corm will need for its next blooming season.
Anemone Pests and Problems
Anemones don't have many pest or disease issues. The most common problems gardeners notice with anemones are leaf spot, downy mildew, and powdery mildew. Usually, none of these are serious problems.
The easiest and most common way to propagate anemone is by digging up the corms and dividing them into pieces, then replanting each piece into the garden at spring planting time.
When dividing, you'll want to make sure each section of the corm has its own roots; this is important for making sure the section can grow on its own once you transplant it.
Fall-Blooming Anemone Cultivars
Fall-blooming anemones are generally referred to as Chinese anemones or Japanese anemones. They bloom in shades of white and pink, and have delicate, saucer-shaped blossoms.
- 'Margarete': This absolutely gorgeous Japanese anemone has medium pink, semi-double blooms. It grows to about 30 inches tall and blooms in September and October in most areas.
- 'September Charm': Silvery-pink blooms with bright yellow centers and a tall, arching habit make this Japanese anemone an absolute stunner. Blooming late summer through early fall, 'September Charm' also makes a wonderful cut flower.
- 'Pocahontas': Deep pink double blooms with slightly ruffled petals make 'Pocahontas' a showstopper in the fall garden. As an added bonus, the stems of 'Pocahontas' are stronger and more upright than some cultivars, so they withstand rain and wind a bit better.
- 'Honorine Jobert': If a pure white bloom is what you're after, consider this compact variety. Its flowers are about two to three inches in diameter, and this is one of the longest-blooming Japanese anemones available, blooming for almost three months straight.
- 'Serenade': With its masses of bubblegum pink blooms, 'Serenade' would look right at home in any cottage garden. It is a vigorous bloomer, and its strong stalks make it less likely to flop after a rain.
Spring and Summer Blooming Anemone Cultivars
Spring blooming anemones are usually those that are planted in fall. They bloom the following year, and have to be treated a bit differently depending on variety and which Zone you live in.
Anemone Blanda Cultivars
If you live in Zones 5 through 9, you can grow most cultivars of Anemone blanda, and they'll bloom wonderfully in the spring.
If you live in an area colder than Zone 5, you'll have to treat A. blanda as an annual, planting it as soon as the ground can be worked, and digging it up again to overwinter indoors before the ground freezes in fall.
- 'White Splendour': This variety usually blooms in April, producing a carpet of cheerful, daisy-like white blooms. This is an excellent cultivar for naturalizing, since it only grows to about four inches tall.
- 'Pink Star': Blooming for weeks at a time, the flowers of 'Pink Star' are daisy-like, with deep pink petals that fade to white near the center.
- 'Blue Star': The flowers and overall size of 'Blue Star' is similar to those of 'Pink Star' (listed above), but in an intense blue shade.
- 'Blue Shades': If you like blue/violet flowers, this is one to keep in mind. The deep, lilac-purple, daisy-like flowers provide a vibrant pop of color in early spring. The flowers are about two inches in diameter, and are profuse; it looks like a purple carpet if it's growing in optimal conditions.
Anemone Coronaria Cultivars
Anemone coronaria cultivars have blossoms similar to poppies and usually bloom in summer. You can plant them in fall if you live in Zone 7 or warmer, but for colder climate gardeners, they're best planted in spring and then dug up again in fall. There are two general types of coronaria anemones: DeCaen and St. Brigid, each with an array of cultivars to choose from.
- 'Monarch DeCaen': This is a mix of various vibrant shades, including deep purple, bright red, pink, and white. If you want show stopping color, 'Monarch DeCaen' mix will give you that, plus plenty of variety.
- 'Black-Eyed Beauty': Soft, pure white petals are offset by deep black centers and anthers, giving this cultivar a dramatic appearance. 'Black Eyed Beauty' blooms for about three months straight in spring, and growers suggest staggering planting in spring to prolong the bloom time even more. (Which is something you can do with all of the Coronaria cultivars, if you want a longer bloom time!)
- 'The Governor': It would be very easy to mistake 'The Governor' for one of the scarlet red poppy varieties that have come to symbolize remembrance and veterans. The double flowers and intense red shade make this a real standout in the garden, and it's a tiny bit hardier than other Coronaria cultivars, hardy to Zone 6.
- 'Mt. Everest': A St. Brigid cultivar, 'Everest' has very full, pure white blooms with lime-green centers. It also has a long bloom time, and is an excellent cut flower for arrangements and bouquets.
What to Plant With Anemones
Some good options for what to plant with spring-blooming anemones include spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, muscari, and crocus, as well as spring-blooming perennials like bleeding heart, hellebores, primroses, hepatica, and columbine.
Anemones for Any Season
Whether you're looking for spring blooms, summer color, or a fall alternative to mums and asters, there is an anemone cultivar that will work perfectly in your garden. And with the sheer variety of colors, forms, and sizes, with a bit of planning you can have an anemone of one type or another in bloom at all times during the growing season!