Anemone Planting Guide

Love the look of anemones? (Really, who doesn’t?) Great for edgings and cut flowers, these fluttery sweeties are easy, dependable late spring to summer bloomers. Just choose the right type of anemone for your region and you’re all set.

Choosing Anemones for Your Part of the Country

You’ll find two types of anemones on this site: the blanda or windflowers, and coronaria or poppy anemones.

The blanda type is ideal for cooler regions of the country, can easily handle the frigid winters of zone 4 and are planted in the fall (z4-8) to early winter (z7b-8) so they have time to root in before spring.

Coronaria anemones are well suited to areas with cool springs and warmer winters; the Northwest is ideal. These anemones can be planted where the soil doesn’t freeze, in zones 8-10 (7 with protection). Coronaria anemenies do not perform well in regions where spring and summer temperatures are high or in regions with lots of humidity.

Sadly, neither type of anemone tends to thrive in the deep South.

Choosing a Growing Site

Choose a site with full sun to partial shade for your anemones. Windflowers are happy in sun or partial shade. Poppy anemone flower best in full sun.

Soil Prep for Anemones

Look for a site where the soil drains well. Anemones grow well in average garden soil, and as with most bulbs, very good drainage is important to help avoid bulb rot. Note: we do not recommend amending the soil with bone meal as it encourages pets and pests to dig up the freshly planted bulbs.

When to Plant Anemones

Wind flowers/blanda anemones are planted in the fall to early winter, depending on growing zone. Coronaria anemones can be planted in the spring or fall.

Spring purchased anemones are for planting in the spring and anemone bulbs purchased in the fall should be planted in the fall. Holding anemone bulbs from one season to the next often reduces performance and is not recommended.

For spring planted anemones, wait until any risk of frost has past before putting in the ground. Allow the soil temperature to reach 55 degrees and avoid planting in soil that is still wet from winter. Cold, wet soil encourages bulb rot. For fall plantings, any time after the soil has cooled from summer’s heat is fine.

How to Plant Anemone Bulbs

Soaking: Start by soaking your bulbs for about 3 hours to soften the tough outer skins and rehydrate the bulbs. Put some room temperature water in a bowl in the sink, add the bulbs and let the faucet run just a little bit to add oxygen to the water. This increases the sprouting ratio dramatically.

Pre-Sprouting: Although not required, pre-sprouting is recommended as it improves the “take rate” significantly. To presprout, plant soaked (see above) bulbs in a seed tray that has 1.5″ of very slightly damp seed starting soil in place. Tuck the bulbs into the soil about an inch apart. Cover with another inch of lightly damp soil. Place the tray in a cool spot; 50 to 60 degrees is perfect. No light is needed as the bulbs are under the soil at this stage. Give the bulbs 10 days to wake up and sprout roots. Then plant outdoors where they will grow for the season.

Loosen the soil to 4” deep and add a handful or two of compost to the soil you removed. Place a bit of the amended soil back into the holes and plant your anemone bulbs 2 to 3 inches below the soil line. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which end is which on these bulbs, so just plant them on their sides and they’ll right themselves. Refill the hole with soil, pat to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil around the bulb.

Space the bulbs 5 to 6 inches apart. Lightly moist soil is needed to avoid having the bulbs or new growth succumb to rot. Do not overwater.

During the Growing Season

Anemone plants need about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two.

At Season’s End

After flowering, your anemone foliage will photosynthesize and create food for next year’s show. Don’t snip it off; let it do its work. Afer blooming, the bulbs will go dormant and the foliage will yellow. Feel free to remove the spent leaves at this point. Anemones don’t need, nor benefit from, any extra moisture after blooming. When fall temperatures cool, the bulbs will develop new roots and will wait for spring rains and warmth to prompt the next cycle of growth and blooms. Bulbs left outside in zones 8-10 will resprout in the spring.

Insider Tips

  1. Plant 5 to 6 inches apart.
  2. Windflowers are excellent for planting in perennial beds to bridge the bloom window between spring bulbs and early summer perennials. These plants also do well in dappled shade, like that found under limbed up deciduous trees.
  3. Both types of anemones here have pretty, lacy foliage.
  4. Poppy anemones look great in a vase for up to 10 days. Snip when the flowers are mostly open and add floral preservative to the vase water to ensure that petal color is retained. These continue to grow an extra couple of inches as the flower open, so keep that in mind as you create bouquets and floral arangements.
  5. Too little sun and/or excessive heat may results in limited flower production or malformed flowers for poppy anemones.
  6. Poppy anemones grown for cutting also thrive in cool greenhouses and hoop houses, with temperatures in the 55-60 degree range.
  7. Windflowers will form spreading colonies when planted in favorable sites. Poppy anemonies do not tend to spread and tend to be fairly short-lived perennials.

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How To Grow Anemones

Method

  1. Depending on where you live and what kind of set up you’re working with, you can plant your anemones in either the fall or late winter-early spring. While spring planted corms won’t be quite as prolific as fall-planted ones, a nice harvest can still be had. In areas with mild winter temps (zone 6 and above) anemones can be planted in the fall and successfully overwintered outdoors with minimal protection such as a low tunnel or frost cloth. In colder areas, where temps dip well below freezing for extended periods of time, you can start them indoors—in a hoophouse or low tunnel, or in trays to plant out later—at the very end of winter. Plants can be moved outside once the threat of deep freezing has passed—this is usually about a month before your last spring frost.
  2. When you unpack your anemone corms you’ll notice they resemble shriveled brown acorns, and are probably not what you were expecting. Don’t worry, these strange little critters will actually produce an abundance of striking blooms!
  3. Before planting, soak corms for 3-4 hours in room temperature water, leaving the water running just slightly during the process to help provide extra oxygen. As the corms soak, they will plump up, often doubling in size.
  4. After soaking, corms can either be planted directly into the ground, or be presprouted. Presprouting the corms before planting will give plants a jump start and you’ll have flowers a few weeks earlier than non-presprouted ones. To presprout, fill a flat-bottom seed tray halfway full of moist potting soil. Sprinkle the soaked corms into the soil and cover them with more soil so that they are completely covered. Leave this tray in a cool place (40-50° F or 4-10° C), where rodents can’t find it for 10-14 days. Check on them every few days and make sure the soil is moist but not soggy and remove any that show signs of rot or mold.
  5. During this time, corms will swell to twice their original size and develop little rootlets. Once these roots are about 1/8- 1/2″ (0.3-1 cm) (pull them up to check), plant them in the ground 2-3″ (5-7.5 cm).
  6. Before planting it’s important to prepare the growing beds. We add a generous dose of compost (2-3″ or 5-7.5 cm) and balanced organic fertilizer (Nature’s Intent 7-3-4) and mix it thoroughly into the soil. Corms are planted 6″ (15 cm)apart, with 5 rows per bed.
  7. During cold stretches, when temps dip below freezing, cover the plants with a layer of frost cloth.
  8. Anemones normally starts to flower about three months after planting. Fall planted corms bloom in early spring and continue steadily for eight to ten weeks. Late winter planted corms will flower by mid spring and continue for about six weeks.
  9. The vase life on anemones is fantastic, often reaching 10 days. Harvest as soon as flowers open and add preservative to the water to ensure that the petals stay brilliantly colored to the end.

Van Engelen

Anemone blanda Horticultural Tips

Native to Greece circa 1898, Anemone blanda yields happy little daisy-like flowers with yellow centers on wiry stems above fern-like foliage. Commonly known as Grecian Windflowers, they are available in blue, pink, white or in a mixture of the three. Deer- and rodent-resistant, Anemone blanda makes an attractive 4″ to 5″ tall ground cover in border plantings or as an underplanting beneath contrasting Hyacinths, Tulips or Narcissi. Anemone blanda are also lovely mixed with select varieties of Muscari and other special, miscellaneous bulbs in naturalizing drifts. They are much loved by bees, butterflies and helpful pollinators.

Anemone blanda are good naturalizers. As Anemone blanda matures over time, when it’s happy where it’s planted, it naturalizes by bulb offsets (called bulbils: baby bulbs on the sides of the mother bulb you’ve planted). It’s terrific in garden borders, sunny woodland borders and in irregular river-like swaths.

Heirloom Anemone blanda
If you are looking for heirloom flower bulbs, you will be happy to know that two of our selections qualify.

1854 Anemone blanda Blue Shades
1854 Anemone blanda White Splendour

Horticultural Zone Hardiness
Anemone blanda are good for horticultural zones 5 through 9. If your garden is in a horticultural zone that is either too cold or only marginally appropriate, you may want to apply no more than a 2″ layer of mulch after the ground surface freezes in the fall. The mulch should trap the cool temperatures into the soil, not warmth. Mulch helps to protect the bulbs from arctic temperature spikes. Good mulching mediums include straw, salt marsh hay or oak leaves. In the spring, you can loosen the mulch in the area in which the Anemone blanda will be sprouting.

Bulb Inspection
Check your shipment against the packing slip and make sure that everything is as it should be. Occasionally, bags of smaller bulbs may be placed in the inner boxes of other bulbs to reduce jostling during shipment. If you can’t find something, open all of the inner boxes. If there is a discrepancy, please call us immediately so that we may resolve it with you. Since every bag or box of bulbs in your order has been scanned using its UPC barcode, we can usually tell you exactly in which box each variety is located.

Inspect your bulbs carefully. We make every effort to ship you only healthy, firm, top quality bulbs.

Anemone blanda “bulbs” look different from other types of flower bulbs like Tulips or Narcissi. These “bulbs” are actually corms that look like black, irregularly-shaped, wizened little pellets. If the soil is dry at planting time, you can give them a head start by soaking them no longer than eight hours in room temperature water.

It is natural for some types of bulbs to develop a transportation mold when they are exposed to oxygen. It is a natural gray-blue-green mold that occurs when they are exposed to air, and that disappears as soon as the bulbs are planted. The soil naturally wicks it away. If you prefer, you may spread the bulbs out in the sun, or brush it off with a paper towel although it is not necessary.

Little cuts, scars, discolored exteriors and dimples are normal marks from the flower bulb harvesting, cleaning and sizing processes in the Netherlands. Anemone blanda corms do not have a papery skin or sheath. The most important factor is the way that the corm feels. As long as the corm is firm, it is a good and viable corm.

Bulb Size
Top size Anemone blanda corms are 5 cm/up. You might find several Anemone blanda corms that are larger than the others. This is the “up” part of the Anemone blanda corm size. Each of the corms is, at a minimum, at least 5 cm. They are sized on conveyor belts in the Netherlands that have holes the centimeter size just below the top size measurement. Smaller bulbs fall through these holes and are not included in our stock. All of the larger corms are included in our stock, and, as a result, there can be size variation. (If any variety in any season produces a smaller top size bulb than expected, we note it on our website. If a price change occurs as a result, we post the new price and make an adjustment on every order.)

Bulb Storage Before Planting
After you’ve received your order and inspected it, keep the exterior carton and the inner boxes open to give the bulbs some air. All bulbs love good air circulation. Store them in a cool, dry place with low humidity, away from heat, frost and strong sunlight at about 50°F to 70°F. Never put flower bulbs in the freezer! Poor storage conditions could cause bulbs to dry out, or to become moldy.

Select and Prepare the Planting Site
Anemone blanda prefers to be planted in organically rich, well-draining, neutral pH soil in full to partial sunlight.

The best soil is a sandy loam. For clay soil, break up the clay about a foot deeper than the planting depth of your bulbs and amend the bed with sand, peat moss and/or well-aged, neutral pH compost. For excessively sandy soil, amend the bed with peat moss, aged leaf compost and/or well-aged, neutral pH compost.

Please do not ever add horse manure, chicken droppings, mushroom compost, other hot manure or immature compost to your flower bulb beds. If you would like to add compost you’ve made yourself, please make sure that it is completely decomposed, healthy and neutral pH. Partially decomposed compost can spread fungal disease, such as botrytis blight, and nasty pests. What is good for vegetables is not necessarily good for flower bulbs.

Easy to Plant
Anemone blanda corms are so easy to plant. We’ll ship you the corms in time for planting in your garden in the fall, once the ground has chilled down to about 55°F, after about two weeks of sweater weather when night time temperatures have hovered in the 40s. This is the best time to plant. Flower bulbs and corms do everything in response to temperature and sunlight. If they are planted too early, before the ground has chilled down to around 55°F, they may grow unnecessary top growth, which could diminish their vitality in spring. If they are planted too late, all-important root system growth could be hampered. Immature, underdeveloped root systems could result in more foliage than flowers. Not good.

Plant these little corms 4″ deep and 3″ to 4″ apart. Please do not put anything in the bottom of hole that you’ve dug for the corms. Even if you think it is good for the corms, it could cause root burn. Nestle the corm into its hole, and please don’t worry about which side is up, and which side is down. Top growth will grow toward the surface of the soil. Fill and cover the hole with soil to the level of the bed, and tamp down the soil lightly, making sure that individual holes are no longer apparent and that the garden bed surface is level. This will help to prevent water from filling up any of the individual planting holes. All flower bulbs hate to get wet feet.

You’ll need about nine bulbs per square foot. (Square footage is determined multiplying the planting site’s length times its width.)

Fertilizing
Never put anything, including fertilizer, in the bottom of each bulb planting hole. To do so is to run the risk of root burn. Plant the bulbs to the proper depth and spacing, tamp down the soil and broadcast a 5-10-5 or 4-10-6 granular organic fertilizer over the surface of the bed as if you were feeding the birds.

While all flower bulbs are nature’s perfect little packages and will bloom beautifully the first year, we recommend broadcasting fertilizer three times a year for all perennial and naturalizing flower bulbs. First at the time of fall planting to help grow the roots, second when the sprouts emerge in the spring to help nourish the foliage and flower, and finally, when the flowers start to die back to help feed the bulb itself. Bone meal is incomplete nutritionally and can attract animals to some varieties of bulbs (like Crocus or Tulips).

Do Not Plant Anemone blanda in Exterior Containers or Raised Beds
Flower bulbs should never be planted in outdoor containers, window boxes or raised beds where bulbs experience temperature spiking and repeated cycles of freezing and thawing. This results in root growth failure, root system destruction, frozen bulbs and/or bulb rot from poor water drainage. Flower bulbs must have a consistent cold winter temperature with good water drainage in order to produce a mature root system that will permit foliage growth and flower production in the spring.

Bloom Times, Size and Color
The bloom time listed for each variety is for horticultural zone 5 in normal spring conditions. The warmer the horticultural zone, the earlier flower bulbs will bloom. The colder the horticultural zone, the later flower bulbs will bloom in the spring.

Flower bulbs do everything in response to temperature, sunlight and site conditions. Bloom times, heights and colors are approximations affected by temperature and site conditions regardless of the calendar date. If it is a warm spring, bulbs will bloom earlier. If it is a cold spring, bulbs will bloom later. If it is a long cool spring, followed by rapid warming, you may find odd bedfellows: earlier blooming Galanthus flowering right along side later blooming Crocus, Species Tulips and Narcissi. Each spring can offer a different sort of garden surprise party.

In the event of a mild winter or a warmer-than-usual spring, flower bulbs that have emergent stalks with set buds may bloom early, small and short, although they will likely grow taller and larger as temperatures moderate. Temperature spikes can also affect mature root development, the actual form of the flower or the process of flower color maturation.

Spring Care
Once Anemone blanda bloom and start to die back in the spring, make sure to keep the foliage going until it dies back naturally. A maximum period of photosynthesis allows the bulbs to regenerate for the future. Once the foliage is completely yellowed or browned out, remove it from the garden.

Forcing
Anemone blanda are also good for forcing indoors over the winter. Pot them up in mid-October and precool them at a consistent, dark 38°F to 45°F for six to eight weeks with moderate watering. At the end of the precooling period, bring the pots out of refrigeration into progressively stronger sunlight with moderate watering. They usually bloom around four weeks later. Once Anemone blanda bulbs are forced, their vitality is spent and the bulbs may be discarded.

Trouble Shooting
If Anemone blanda start to yield more foliage than flowers, it normally indicates a root system issue. A mature planting may need to be dug up in the fall, and transplanted to the original depth and spacing after carefully separating the bulbs that may have been strangling themselves. Sometimes, frost heaving causes the little corms to be pushed up above the 4″ planting depth. If this happens, the corms could be more susceptible to winter temperature spiking. If you notice this happening, you may want to carefully dig them up in the fall and replant them to the proper depth.

Planting anemones for spring

How to plant anemones for spring

  • Anemones have strange-looking bulbs or tubers, like a craggy lump of dirt. They hate to dry out completely, so they are best planted in autumn when quite newly lifted and still damp.
  • If they feel bone-dry, soak them in a bucket of water overnight and they will double in size and grow away more quickly.
  • For these small-growing anemones, plant them on their longest side, rather than flat, about 2 in. deep and 3 in. apart.
  • The Anemone blanda group likes good drainage, in light shade with loose, leafy soil so, when planting dense areas, try to mix in plenty of leaf mould.
  • The wood anemone (A. nemorosa) prefers a dampish soil, thick with the organic matter that you’d expect to find on the floor of a deciduous wood, so add lots of leaf mould to their planting area, too.
  • Anemone blanda ‘White Splendour’ and ‘Robinsoniana’ in particular are excellent forced in pots for the house and make lovely table centres.
  • They’re also good in pots or beds in a cool greenhouse or conservatory where they should flower by early February. If kept cool, a pot looks good for more than a month.

Planting anemones in your spring garden will join up the dots and colour in the background between various dominant, showy bulbs. You can create a look in which the plants and shrubs all feel completely threaded together, with hardly a patch of bare ground, every inch colonised over the years by plants.

Instead of thinking of gardening as buying, planting anemones creates a garden as ‘being’, one that gives a sense that the garden is beyond your intervention, that the plants have evolved and worked things out between themselves.

Anemone power

To jump to that look, I’m planting huge numbers of anemones this autumn – not the showy, large-flowered florist’s Anemone coronaria, but the smaller Anemone nemorosa, Anemone ranunculoides and Anemone blanda, with some hybrids in between. Planting these small anemones is the cheapest, quickest way to create a delicate, calm, undulating spring ground cover, in sun or shade.

For the first, slightly shady area, I’m planting a couple of bagfuls of the wild wood anemone, A. nemorosa (AGM). This is one of the earliest spring flowers you can grow, and a brilliantly uplifting sight after the dark days of winter – pure, simply pretty and cheerful. The flowers are white, often washed pink and they look good for ages, flowering throughout March and well into April. The foliage disappears quickly and neatly after flowering and, unlike bluebells, doesn’t leave a chunky great seedpod to contend with in any later planting scheme.

  • Wood anemones have a wide pH tolerance, occurring in the wild on almost all types of soil so, once in, they should do well.
  • The one downside is that they are very slow colonisers, so the more you can put in at the outset, the better the impact will be for many years.
  • The seed is rarely fertile so the plants spread by the very slow growth of their root structure “at a snail’s pace – no more than 6ft each 100 years” (Richard Mabey, author of Flora Britannica).
  • With all anemones, if you want to pick them, sear the stem ends in boiling water for 15 seconds and they last – and hold their petals – for nearly a week.

Faster results

If you want quick cover but equally sweet, delicate flowers, then the Anemone blanda varieties are for you. The blue-flowered form of A. blanda in particular readily self-sows. I first had these in a pot on the doorstep outside my office at Perch Hill, and from that small pot, now five years on, most of the spring Oast garden is a sea of blue. The seeds blow around and settle into any chink in your planting, taking hold and then gently spreading from there.

There is also the pure white A. blanda ‘White Splendour’ (AGM) which I love for picking, with whorly Catherine wheel flowers twice the size of the first two. And while we’re talking picking, you must grow just a few of the more expensive, but extraordinary, green-flowered A. nemorosa ‘Virescens’ (AGM), where all the petals have turned into highly and elegantly divided, green-edged, crimson bracts like miniature angelica leaves, laid one on top of another. This is the perfect foliage backdrop to a mini posy of polyanthus and crocus in a small sherry glass.

Choice varieties

On top of the straightforward wood anemone varieties, all worth growing, there are some elegant and desirable rarities to keep your eyes peeled for.

Anemone nemorosa ‘Robinsoniana’ (AGM) are taller and generally showier than most wood anemones, in a delicious Farrow and Ball-style duck‑egg blue. This form, named after the wild gardening pioneer William Robinson, looks wonderful in drifts in thin grass below shrubs and trees with both primroses and cowslips.

As a child, I spent several Easter holidays in Asolo, a hill town on the edge of the Dolomites in Italy. There the woods were often full, not of the white anemone, but of the pale buttercup yellow, A. ranunculoides. This has taller, thinner stems, with the leaves finer and higher on the stem. A lovely thing too, perfect against the backdrop of fallen, coppery leaves with the odd dappled, silver-green leaf of Cyclamen hederifolium. I have real affection for this plant and the unsalted butter-yellow of its hybrid with Anemone ranunculoides, the pale and delicious, Anemone x lipsiensis ‘Pallida’.

So now, in early autumn, is your moment to plant one or all of these bulbs to provide the linking carpets between bright and pale, large and small throughout your spring garden.

Anemonoides blanda

  • Attributes: Genus: Anemonoides Species: blanda Family: Ranunculaceae Uses (Ethnobotany): In the middle ages was used in herbal medicine. Life Cycle: Perennial Recommended Propagation Strategy: Division Seed Country Or Region Of Origin: Southeastern Europe, Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems): drought
  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Bulb Herbaceous Perennial Poisonous Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Habit/Form: Horizontal Spreading Growth Rate: Rapid Maintenance: Medium
  • Cultural Conditions: Light: Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours) Soil Drainage: Good Drainage Moist Occasionally Dry Available Space To Plant: Less than 12 inches Usda Plant Hardiness Zone: 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit: Fruit Type: Achene Fruit Description: This plant has small oval fruits often with plumose tails.
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Gold/Yellow Green Purple/Lavender Red/Burgundy White Flower Inflorescence: Cyme Head Umbel Flower Value To Gardener: Showy Flower Bloom Time: Spring Flower Shape: Cup Flower Petals: 7 – 20 petals/rays Flower Description: Flowers bloom in spring (April-May). They are white, yellow-green, red, or purple, and cup-shaped with 7 or more rays and many stamens. Occur singly or in clusters.
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Leaf Color: Green Leaf Type: Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately) Simple Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Whorled Leaf Shape: Lanceolate Reniform Leaf Margin: Entire Lobed Serrate Hairs Present: No Leaf Description: Leaves are alternate or whorled and finely divided. Margins can be entire. lobed or not or finely toothed. Leaves can be compound or simple.
  • Stem: Stem Color: Green Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Description: wiry green stems
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Woodland Landscape Theme: Rock Garden Design Feature: Border Resistance To Challenges: Drought Problems: Contact Dermatitis Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans: Poison Severity: Low Poison Symptoms: Poisonous through ingestion and dermatitis. Symptoms may include: Inflammation and blistering upon contact with fresh sap. Ingestion of large amounts causes irritation of mouth, vomiting and diarrhea. Poison Toxic Principle: Protoanemonin Causes Contact Dermatitis: Yes Poison Part: Bark Flowers Fruits Leaves Roots Seeds Stems

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