How to grow Japanese anemones
All you need to know about growing Japanese anemones.
Japanese anemones put on a stunning show in late summer and early autumn. Open blooms in pale pink or white float on tall stems, above attractive foliage.
Japanese anemones make an ideal choice for growing in woodland locations or beneath trees. They thrive in shade, cope with dry soil and work well in pots.
Japanese anemones provide a welcome splash of colour at a time when other plants are dying down. They provide nectar and pollen to late-flying pollinators, particularly bumblebees.
How to grow Japanese anemones
Grow Japanese anemones in moist but well-drained soil in light shade. Deadhead spent blooms after flowering and tidy up dead foliage in spring. Mulch annually with well-rotted manure or compost. Propagate by division or root cuttings.
Where to plant Japanese anemones
For best results plant Japanese anemones in moist but well-drained soil in light shade. They will grow in most soil types, but struggle in really wet winters.
How to plant Japanese anemones
Dig a generous hole, around the same depth as the pot the Japanese anemone is planted in, and at least twice as wide. Add some organic matter, such as well rotted manure or leafmould to the base of the planting hole. Add the plant, ensuring it sits at the same depth it was in the pot, fill around the rootball with soil and firm in gently. Water in well and apply a thick mulch to seal moisture into the soil.
Caring for Japanese anemones
Cut back after flowering or leave the seedheads for birds to eat in winter and then cut back after they have eaten them. Tidy up dead leaves and stalks in March. Mulch annually in spring or autumn. Divide larger clumps every few years to keep them under control. Do this in autumn or spring – you may find plants sulk when moved, but they should settle and re-establish themselves.
How to propagate Japanese anemones
The easiest way to propagate Japanese anemones is to divide clumps in early spring or autumn. Simply dig up the plant and use a sharp spade or knife such as an old bread knife to divide the rootball into sections. Then replant and water well.
When dividing plants in autumn, you can also take root cuttings. In this clip from Gardeners' World, Carol Klein demonstrates how to propagate Japanese anemones from root cuttings:
Japanese anemones are rarely affected by pests and diseases.
Yellowing or browning leaves may be a sign of dry soil. Remove the leaves and give the plant a good water, then apply a thick mulch to help stop water evaporating from the surface.
White, dusty coating on leaves and flowers could be powdery mildew. Remove and destroy affected material and ensure the ground remains evenly moist throughout the season, as drought-stressed plants seem more prone to infection. Applying a mulch can help lock moisture into the soil.
Brown, holey leaves could be caused by eelworm. Japanese anemone leaves can be susceptible to eelworm, also known as nematodes. They are tiny organisms, 1-2mm long, that look like eels under a microscope. Most live harmlessly in the soil, feeding on bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms, but a small number feed on plant material. Plants are unlikely to be significantly affected but in large numbers, eelworms can do a lot of damage. If necessary, remove and destroy affected leaves, but do consider leaving them alone as birds and wasps should control them for you.
Controlling Japanese anemones
When growing in the right conditions, Japanese anemones can spread easily and may become invasive and outgrow the space you intended for them. As well as self-seeding, they also send out rhizomes (spreading roots) that grow into new plants. To keep them under control, remove new shoots as they appear. Dividing and replanting established clumps can also help to control the spread of Japanese anemones.
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Advice on buying Japanese anemones
- Japanese anemones vary in flower colour and height – make sure you choose the right one for your garden
- Be mindful that they can out-grow their welcome – grow them in a pot if necessary
- Always check plants for signs of damage or disease before buying or planting
Where to buy Japanese anemones
Japanese anemones to grow
Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert' – a classic Japanese anemone, with white, single flowers, tinged with pink on the underside of the petals. It's perfect for brightening up a shady corner either in a large container or herbaceous border.
Anemone hupehensis 'Splendens' – with pink flowers, this more compact variety, is a good choice for growing in containers or at the front of a sunny border.
Anemone ‘Tiki Sensation’ – an unusual new Japanese anemone with, blousy double flowers that change in colour from blush pink to white.
Anemone hupehensis var. japonica 'Pamina' – large, double, deep pink, cup-shaped flowers appear in July and August. These suit the middle of a partially shady border, but will grow in sun.
Anemone rupicola 'Wild Swan' – pictured at the top of the page. A relatively new discovery believed to be a cross between early and late flowering anemones, so it is not a true Japanese anemone. It’s unusual in flowering intermittently from May to November. Each flower petal has a distinct grey-blue streak on the underside, so when in bud or half closed, they look bluish, but are pure white on opening.