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 tubers or rhizomes in autumn or spring, depending on the variety. Alternatively, buy pot-grown plants in flower in spring, although tubers and rhizomes give far better value for money compared to pot-grown plants. Plant in pots, borders, or woodland gardens, again depending on the variety. Water anemones growing in pots.
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.
How to plant anemones
Plant anemones as soon as possible after purchase, as the tubers can dry out. Plant tubers of Anemone blanda and rhizomes of Anemone nemorosa in early autumn, and tubers of Anemone coronaria in spring. 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 find their own way up. Space them 10-15cm apart unless planting in containers where closer planting gives the best effects.
How to care for anemones
Anemones need little care apart from watering those growing in pots. After flowering, leave the seed heads to mature as anemones often 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).
Growing anemones: problem solving
Given the right growing conditions for each type, anemones are trouble-free apart from possible damage by slugs and snails. Powdery mildew can be a problem if conditions are too dry – avoid this by watering thoroughly once a week, more regularly in pots.
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
- Buy wood anemone from Crocus
- Buy florist’s anemone from Thompson & Morgan
- Buy windflower from Thompson & Morgan
- Buy wood anemone from Naturescape
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. Height 25-30cm.
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.