Anemones come in several forms. The windflower, Anemone blanda, is the best-known variety. It grows from knobbly tubers and bears beautiful blue, pink or white flowers. The florist’s anemone, Anemone coronaria, also grows from tubers but is taller growing, with brilliantly coloured, late spring blooms that make good cut flowers. Wood anemone, Anemone nemorosa, is a shade-loving anemone that grows from rhizomes. It has dainty white blooms in early spring.
Anemones originate from Europe and the Mediterranean. All are perennial, dying back after flowering to become dormant through summer and autumn, regrowing the following spring. Anemone blanda and Anemone nemorosa are hardy, but Anemone coronaria is best grown in pots which you can move under cover for winter. These spring-flowering anemones are not to be confused with Japanese anemones, Anemone hupehensis and Anemone x hybrida. These are much larger and bloom in late summer and autumn.
How to grow anemones
Buy dormant anemone bulbs (tubers or rhizomes) in autumn or spring, depending on the variety. Alternatively, buy pot-grown anemone plants in spring, although tubers and rhizomes give far better value-for-money compared to pot-grown plants. Anemone flowers are beautiful in a range of situations – plant in pots, borders, or woodland gardens, again depending on the variety. Anemones growing in pots will need watering.
Where to grow anemones
All anemones grow in any reasonable soil that has good drainage. Grow Anemone blanda in pots and borders in sun or partial shade, Anemone coronaria in full sun and free-draining soil, and Anemone nemorosa in partial shade in humus-rich, slightly damp soil.
When to plant anemones
Plant anemone bulbs as soon as possible after purchase, as they have a tendency to dry out. Plant Anemone blanda bulbs and Anemone nemorosa bulbs in early autumn, from September to October. You can plant Anemone coronaria bulbs all year round, depending on when you want them to flower: plant directly outside in April for summer flowering, or in June for early autumn flowering. You can also plant Anemone coronaria in pots in the greenhouse or even outdoors in autumn if you live in a mild area. These will benefit from a little extra protection in winter and then flower in early spring, typically from February to March.
More like this
How to plant anemones
Soak them in water for around 10 hours prior to planting, then plant 5-8cm deep. Unlike most bulbs, it’s not obvious which way is up, but don’t worry, the leaves will find their own way to the surface. Space them 10-15cm apart unless planting in containers where closer planting gives the best effects.
If buying potted anemone plants, plant them as soon as you can, watering them thoroughly so they settle in quickly.
How to care for anemones
Anemones need little care apart from watering those growing in pots. Leave anemone flowers to develop seed as they may self-seed to form large groups over time. In areas with cold, wet winters, lift and store the tubers of Anemone coronaria to replant the following spring, or grow them in pots which you can simply move under cover in autumn.
How to propagate anemones
The best way to propagate anemones is to lift and divide the tubers in summer, once they have died back and become fully dormant. Either replant them straight away or store them in a cool, dry place to replant at a later date (autumn or spring).
Pests and diseases
Given the right growing conditions for each type, anemones are trouble-free apart from possible damage by slugs and snails. Simply pick these off by hand when you see them.
Powdery mildew can be a problem if conditions are too dry. Avoid this by watering thoroughly once a week, more regularly in pots.
Don't worry if your anemones appear to die back after flowering – this is perfectly normal and is just a sign that the plant is going into dormancy. It will re-flower the following year.
If your anemone bulbs haven't grown at all, it could be because you haven't soaked the bulbs. Remember it's important to soak anemone bulbs for around 10 hours before planting, as this greatly improves chances of growth.
Advice on buying anemones
- Anemone tubers and rhizomes are available from mail order suppliers or from nurseries and garden centres, in autumn or spring
- Pot-grown anemones are available to buy in spring, although these are much more expensive compared to buying tubers
- When buying tubers and rhizomes, always make sure they are firm, with no signs of damp or mould
Where to buy anemones
Anemone varieties to grow
Windflower, Anemone blanda, blooms in March-April and bears open single flowers of blue, pink or white, 2-4cm across, on short stems above fresh green leaves. There are several cultivars to choose from. ‘White Splendour’ has the largest blooms and is pure white. Height 15cm.
Florist’s anemone, Anemone coronaria, flowers from May to June with brightly coloured blooms in red, pink or purple, as well as white. Some types have contrasting dark centres. As its name suggests, it's commonly used by florists and makes an excellent cut flower, as well as offering a splash of colour to pots and borders. Height 25-30cm.
- Buy florist's anemone from Crocus
- Buy florist's anemone from Thompson & Morgan
- Buy florist's anemone from Sarah Raven
Wood anemone, Anemone nemorosa, blooms March-April, bearing single white, sometimes pink-tinged flowers 2-3cm across. Also comes in lavender-blue and double-flowered varieties. Height 15cm.