5 Beautiful Types of Anemones

Sea anemones are an eclectic part of the underwater kingdom. The different species form distinct relationships to regions of varying depth and climate and have amassed a variance of over 1,000 species. The patterns and colors are due in equal parts to their predatory and symbiotic natures. Here are five types of anemones from around the globe that are renowned for their beautiful designs and traits.

Rose Bulb Anemone

via flickr/Tim Sheerman-Chase

The rose bulb anemone can be found growing on coral reefs or debris in Fiji and Indonesia. When this anemone’s tentacles swell they resemble the petals of their namesake flower. Plenty of sunlight is required for the rose bulb to generate the pigments for its distinct coloring.

White-Spotted Rose Anemone

via flickr/Ed Bierman

White spots freckle the bright red pedal column of this predator making it look almost good enough to eat, a distinction that earned it the nickname strawberry anemone. This sea anemone makes its home in shady spots along the American west coast.

Giant Green Anemone

via flickr/Holy Outlaw

The giant green gets its bright green hues as a result of nourishment that it derives from algae living in and on its tissue. When a giant green anemone makes its home in a well light area this process will thrive. It can be found in cold waters along the Pacific coast from Panama up to Alaska.

Bubble Tip Anemone

via flickr/prilfish

The Bubble Tip often serves as a habitat to clown fish. They live in the waters of the Indo-Pacific Ocean where they also thrive from a symbiotic relationship with algae. The long tentacles vary from red to brown with a flare of green that becomes evident when the tentacles swell, creating the popular bubble-tip effect.

Christmas Anemone

via flickr/_aquaticfire_

A festive red and white striping pattern coupled with pink hues makes this a favorite amongst the different types of anemones. It is popular among aquarists because of its moderate size and ease of care, making it a common fish tank addition. It can be found growing in the waters of the North Pacific.

Sea Anemones

“What is the biggest and smallest?”

Sea anemones vary in size, with some tropical species reaching more than a metre in diameter. One of the largest in British waters is the Horesman anemone (Urticina eques), reaching sizes of 35cm across. One of the smallest in Britain is the rare anemone Gonactinia prolifera, which rarely grows more than 5mm tall.

Beautiful Dahlia anemone (Urticina felina) in Plymouth Sound

“Where do they live?”

Anemones have adapted to a wide range of habitats, from the muddy depths of sea lochs, to seashores, wrecks and offshore reefs. Some even attach to other living creatures. The beadlet anemone is an example of a specis found on the shore, which can survive out of the water when the tide drops, by drawing its tentacles inside its body.

“How long do they live?”

Some sea anemones are very long lived and have been known to reach 60-80 years. Because anemones are able to clone themselves they do not age and therefore have the potential to live indefinitely in the absence of predators or disease.

Some species commonly found around the British Isles

Beadlet anemone (Actinia equina) – the most familiar sea anemone to most. Found on a wide range of rocky shores, often as dark red or green blobs of jelly when out of the water at low tide.
Strawberry anemone (Actinia fragacea) – similar to the beadlet anemone but larger and marked like a strawberry.
Snakelocks anemone (Anemone viridis) – another familar anemone in the south west, whose brightly coloured tentacles remain extended even when disturbed.
Gem anemone (Aulactinia verrucosa) – a squat anemone with many markings and a bumpy body. Normally found attached to rocks on the lower shore and in pools.
Cloak anemone (Adamsia carciniopados) – is a beautiful pink spotty anemone almost always found living with the hermit crab (Pagurus prideaux).

Sea anemone

Sea anemone, any member of the invertebrate order Actiniaria (class Anthozoa, phylum Cnidaria), soft-bodied, primarily sedentary marine animals resembling flowers. They are found from the tidal zone of all oceans to depths of more than 10,000 metres (about 33,000 feet). Some live in brackish water. They are largest, most numerous, and most colourful in warmer seas. The colourful Tealia are found in temperate regions.

  • A sea anemone from the genus Tealia attached to a rock. M. Woodbridge Williams
  • A sea anemone from the genus Metridium.George Lower—The National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers

Read More on This Topic cnidarian: Size range and diversity of structure Certain tropical sea anemones (class Anthozoa) may be a metre in diameter, and some temperate ones are nearly that tall. Anthozoans are…

The nearly 1,000 species vary in size from a few millimetres (a fraction of an inch) in diameter and length to about 1.5 metres (about 5 feet) in diameter. The largest sea anemones—also the largest cnidarians—are of the genus Stichodactyla.

Actinarians exhibit great variety in shape and habit. The cylindrical body may be thick and short or long and slender. The oral disk, containing the mouth, at the upper end of the body is surrounded by petal-like tentacles, which are often present in multiples of six. Sea anemones are commonly yellow, green, or blue; they are typically attached by the pedal disk, or base, to a hard surface such as a rock, wharf timber, a seashell, or the back of a crab. Most seldom move; some occasionally creep very slowly or move in a slow somersaulting fashion. Members of certain genera (e.g., Edwardsia, Halcampa, Peachia) have no pedal disk but burrow deep into the sand or mud, exposing only the mouth and tentacles. Members of the genus Minyas float near the ocean surface, with the mouth hanging downward.

Sea anemones have no solid skeleton but may secrete a horny covering. Some species have adhesive-secreting structures and cover themselves with grains of sand, bits of shell, or other foreign objects.

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Nematocysts, microscopic stinging structures in the tentacles, are used to capture and paralyze prey such as fishes and other marine animals. Some species eat only microorganisms. Anemones are eaten by sea slugs, certain starfishes, eels, flounders, and codfish.

In most species the sexes are separate. Sperm and eggs are usually discharged into the water, where fertilization occurs. Sometimes, as in Halcampa and Actinia, sperm are drawn into the female’s gastrovascular cavity, in which the eggs are fertilized. Fertilized eggs develop, for example, into ciliated larvae that disperse to new areas before metamorphosing into adults. Reproduction sometimes occurs asexually by longitudinal fission (e.g., in Anemonia); that is, the animal splits lengthwise into two equal individuals. In some species (e.g., Metridium) the pedal disk breaks into fragments that grow into new individuals.

Sea anemones often live in close association with other organisms. The hermit crab Pagurus arrosor carries a single anemone of the genus Calliactis on the snail shell it uses as a “house.” When the hermit crab grows too large for its shell, it moves to a new one, transplanting the anemone to the new shell. Similarly, the hermit crab Eupagurus prideauxi and the sea anemone Adamsia palliata are always found living together, never alone. Fishes of the genera Premnas and Amphiprion often live safely among the poisonous tentacles of an anemone such as a species of Stichodactyla, Radianthus, or Discosoma. Such fish, however, may be stung and eaten by other anemone individuals, even of the same species.

Clown fish (Amphiprion percula) among sea anemones in the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

Japanese Anemone Knows Its Place–Between Summer, Winter

This time of year, when heat-loving summer flowers are fading and many cool-weather bulbs are just starting to wake, it’s refreshing to see the Japanese anemone in full bloom.

A graceful plant with 1-foot, dark green, semi-hairy leaves and 2- to 4-foot high stems sporting semi-double flowers in white or pink, this hardy perennial blooms September through November, although it looks good even when not in bloom.

“Though it’s not a commonly grown plant, Japanese anemone is a great addition to many gardens,” said Norm Yoder, co-owner of Friday House Gardens, an Orange nursery specializing in old-fashioned perennials, herbs and antique bulbs.

Some varieties commonly found in the nursery include September Charm and Pink, which are both pink, and Honorine Jobert, which is white.

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Now is the time to plant Japanese anemones, which can be found in most nurseries in 1-gallon containers.

Yoder offers the following planting tips.

* Plant in semi-shade. Japanese anemones prefer a location somewhat protected from harsh sun. Yoder grows his under deciduous trees that shade them during the hot summer months and give them more light during cooler months.

They look best under high branching trees or in front of tall plants such as shrubbery.

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* Consider eventual size. Japanese anemones grow into a leafy clump that is about 2 feet across and around.

* Prepare the soil. Amend with homemade or bagged compost. Japanese anemones like a fairly rich soil that is well-draining. If a spot is slow-draining, improve drainage before planting or choose another site.

* Try containers. Japanese anemones will grow in containers as long as the pot is large enough. Replant a 1-gallon anemone into a 12- to 14-inch pot. When the plant becomes root-bound, repot to a larger container or divide the roots in spring, discard excess and replant.

* Fertilize twice a year. Japanese anemones aren’t heavy feeders. Feed them in the fall and spring with a slow-release chemical fertilizer or organic fertilizer.

* Water regularly but don’t over water. Japanese anemones aren’t drought tolerant, but they aren’t overly thirsty either. Keep the soil slightly moist but never soggy.

* Be patient. Japanese anemones are slow to establish but will fill out and spread quickly once they get going, as long as their roots aren’t disturbed. They are long-lived perennials that will grace your yard with flowers every fall for many years.

* Stimulate new growth by removing dead leaves and cutting spent flower spikes off at the plant base.

* Propagate in spring. Japanese anemones are easily propagated from root divisions. Simply dig up the plant and separate the roots into 1- or 2-inch clumps, which can then be replanted. By fall, they should be blooming again.

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OCTOBER PLANTING GUIDE

October is one of the best gardening months in Orange County. Our weather is not yet chilly, but by now the sweltering days of summer have usually passed.

It’s also time for a changing of the guard from warm-season to cool-season crops. The following is a sampling of what can be planted this month.

*

FLOWERS: from seed or starter plants

Agapanthus

Alyssum

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Bachelor’s button

Calendula

California poppy

Campanula

Canterbury bell

Carnation

Chrysanthemum

Dahlia

Delphinium

Dianthus

English primrose

Felicia

Foxglove

Iceland poppy

Impatien

Japanese anemone

Lantana

Larkspur

Lavender

Michaelmas daisy

Nemesia

Pansy

Rudbeckia

Scabiosa

Scented geranium

Schizanthus

Shasta daisy

Snapdragon

Stock

Sweet pea

Sweet William

Viola

Wildflowers

Yarrow

*

VEGETABLES

Artichoke

Asparagus

Beet

Broccoli

Brussels sprouts

Cabbage

Carrot

Cauliflower

Celery

Collards

Endive

Garlic

Horseradish

Kohlrabi

Kale

Leek

Lettuce

Mustard greens

Onion

Parsnip

Scabiosa

Scented geranium

Schizanthus

Shasta daisy

Snapdragon

Stock

Sweet pea

Sweet William

Viola

Wildflowers

Yarrow

*

VEGETABLES

Artichoke

Asparagus

Beet

Broccoli

Brussels sprouts

Cabbage

Carrot

Cauliflower

Celery

Collards

Endive

Garlic

Horseradish

Kohlrabi

Kale

Leek

Lettuce

Mustard greens

Onion

Parsnip

Pea

Radish

Rhubarb

Rutabaga

Salsify

Shallot

Spinach

Swiss chard

Turnip

*

HERBS

Chamomile

Chive

Cilantro

Comfrey

Dill

Feverfew

Lavender

Oregano

Parsley

Rosemary

Thyme

* Researched by JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS / for The Times

Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ in flower.

Anemone x hybrida, commonly called windflower, Japanese anemone, or thimbleflower, is a group of herbaceous perennials in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). They are all the result of crossing two or three species, A. hupehensis, A. vitifolium, and A. tomentosa, that actually are native to China but were erroneously called Japanese anemones because of an early record of one plant from Japan. The cultivar ‘Honorine Jobert’, an old garden hybrid discovered in Verdun, France in 1858, has been selected as the Perennial Plant Association’s Perennial of the Year 2016. This hybrid, also called A. x hybrida ‘Alba’, was a sport of the pale pink Anemone x hybrida, a cross of A. hupehensis var. japonica and A. vitifolium which was raised at the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Chiswick. This cultivar, that adds late season interest in the garden, was award the RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1993. It was rated good (4 of 5 stars) in a plant evaluation study by the Chicago Botanic Garden and is hardy in zones 4-7.

The palmate dark green leaves.

This is a vigorous, low-maintenance plant, with a fibrous-rooted woody base that forms neat, dense, compact mounds of foliage that is nearly evergreen in mild climates. The glossy basal foliage only grows 12-18 inches tall, but when in bloom the plants are 3-4 feet tall. The palmate, toothed dark green basal leaves are lightly covered with fine hairs. It spreads by shallow creeping, wiry black rhizomes.

‘Honorine Jobert’ blooms over 5-8 weeks from late summer into early fall, with clusters of showy white flowers held well above the foliage on long, wiry stems. Flowers open from round, pink-washed buds on the gracefully erect, branching stems. Each 2-3” wide single to semi-double, open-faced flower has 6-9 brilliant white overlapping tepals and numerous bright yellow stamens in a ring surrounding a chartreuse center. There is a blush of pink on the back side of the tepals and the tips are slightly ruffled, giving the illusion of even more depth. Flowers may be visited by bees and butterflies, and the inflorescences make good cut flowers. The flowers routinely bloom well past first frost are followed by rounded seed heads at the end of the stems, although they rarely produce seeds.

The white flowers (LC) emerge from rounded buds (L), eventually losing the stamens (RC) and petals to leave a rounded seed head (R).

A mass of Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ at the right of the path in Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, WI.

Use ‘Honorine Jobert’ as a specimen or in masses in cottage gardens, perennial borders, rock gardens, or open woodland gardens where their graceful flowers stems waving in the breeze above the dark green leaves can be appreciated. They can be planted at the front of a bed, as the mound of foliage is low, and the slender flower stems make it a see-through plant late in the season. This cultivar lights up the partly shaded garden, where the brilliant white flowers are easier to see out of the glare of direct sun. The white flowers will really stand out against a dark background, such as a yew hedge or painted wooden fence or wall.

The white flowers of Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ at the end of a path in Wisley Gardens, England.

Combine fall-blooming Japanese anemone with spring bulbs and spring and summer blooming perennials to provide interest throughout the growing season, or pair it with fall-blooming asters, bugbane (Actaea (= Cimicifuga), chrysanthemums, eupatorium, goldenrod, monkshood (Aconitum), sedums, or toad lily (Tricyrtis) – depending on sites conditions – for a spectacular display late in the season. It pairs nicely with white-variegated hosta and ornamental grasses. Plant it near early-spring bloomers, such as bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), where it will fill the void as the early bloomers begin to go dormant in late summer. Where it spreads vigorously, use it as a tall ground cover. It is a great addition to an all-white or moonlight garden, and can even be used in large containers.

The white flowers of Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’

This cultivar of Japanese anemone grows best in full sun to part shade in evenly moist, but well-drained soil rich in organic matter, but also thrives in clay soils. It does not tolerate dry soil, but also doesn’t like wet soils, especially in winter. Once established in ideal conditions (loose, organic soil) it can slowly spread aggressively, overrunning other perennials, so it is best suited to larger landscapes. Despite their tendency to spread, they are not considered invasive in the Upper Midwest. New plants that develop from the rhizomes on the edge of the colony as it encroaches on other areas are easily dug or pulled. Mulch the plants to keep the roots cool. The plants do not have any serious insect or disease problems, although slugs, blister beetles, and flea beetles may attack them, and are not favored by deer or rabbits. Contact with the sap may irritate the skin in some people.

This cultivar can be propagated by division in spring or root cuttings taken in late winter. It is late to emerge in spring and may be slow to establish (especially from the older, woody rootstock), but can eventually spread by rhizomes to form large colonies.

A mass planting of Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ in bloom.

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison


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Growing Japanese Anemone from seed?

My best advice is to pay the relatively paltry amount of money required to hire a landscape architect to draw up a plan. If you do the hands-on work yourself, the cost for the actual plan shouldn’t be prohibitive and will likely save money in the long-run. They consider so much more than plants and shrubs. In our first (newly built) home, hubs and I just couldn’t figure out how to lay out our front beds. We finally contacted a local landscape architect who — keeping in mind that this was about 30 years ago — came to our home, chatted with us, went away to do his magic, and brought back THE perfect plans for the entire front of our home for $125. Did it again in our second home, where it was about $300 give or take, for front and rear (pool area) plans. Probably costs more now, but worth every penny. You might even contact nearby (or zone comparable, anyway) schools with landscape architecture programs to ask professors about recommending a promising (and more affordable) student there. Might even do it free for the experience. Anyway, hubs and I then bought our own plants and shrubs according to the plans, and implemented all ourselves to save money. If you choose not to go with a pro’s plan, then I agree with poster "ianblue" that the plants are actually far less important than overall design, curves, and flow changes. Personally, I would first use paint the foundation the dark hue. No brainer. Next, I’d use a garden hose to lay out a much larger, sweeping border line like the one in ianblue’s picture, marking it with simple dark steel edging for now. (You can always upgrade edging down the road if you’d like). Then, I’d waste no time in removing that straight sidewalk to replace it with one that CURVES down (and possibly toward the drive). Seriously, the house screams for it. As to the walk demolition, I wouldn’t think it would be overly pricey (although the curving redo might be) but I’ve never priced it. That said, if a pro jackhammer removal is too costly, try craigslist? I mean, seems like it’s a simple matter of concrete, muscle, jackhammer, and removal truck, but someone who knows might school me on that. Regardless, it will give authenticity to your home’s Tudor heritage as well as make the house pop. Then, with the concrete gone, you can just sod new grass where the walk was, and if the money isn’t there at that point to add the new curving walk, then just use a stepping stone trail to the drive until you’re financially ready. Those 3 things alone, with no other changes at all, would make a huge, HUGE difference in your elevation, even if the outlined beds had nothing AT ALL in them but basic soil prep for future plants. This is, I suspect, what ianblue was trying to express: design changes first, plants last. Otherwise…I vote no to the terra cotta (but perhaps some other color besides dark brown?); yes to painting the downspout; no to "shudders"; yes to window box on front AND left side of house (kitchen?) but making them slightly longer than the windows, slightly taller than I see here, and quite a bit wider in terms of depth from house; no to the cherry in front of the window or fireplace–rule of thumb is that trees should always frame a home rather than disrupt the view of it; and yes, I emphatically agree with poster "bellburgmaggie" on use and placement of evergreens (plus at least one large and lush fir, staple of any Tudor), on extending the beds around the side of the house (and far side of drive if possible), on the trellis over the drive whenever feasible, and to an overall English garden look, all of which have traditionally complemented Tudor architecture so beautifully. Oh, and whenever the occasion arrives down the road that your roof has to be replaced, I’d go dark instead of light. Probably a deep, deep brown. And my last piece of advice? Take a deep breath and remember that it all doesn’t have to happen this month, or this year, or even this decade. Think in terms of stages. Your home is so pretty, and has the potential to be an absolute show-stopper someday. For now, though, the key is to figure out your **ultimate** front elevation goals. Only then can you determine the order in which things need to be done, the costs, what you can do yourself, what needs to be done by others, and a general timeline for doing it. Starting with plants is putting the cart in front of the horse, which I’m afraid you and the horse–or house–will almost surely regret later. JMO, FWIW.

Anemones are a perennial flowering plant that is part of the buttercup family. They are also sometimes referred to as windflowers due to the Greek meaning of their name. In Greek mythology, anemone flowers are a symbol of the love between Adonis and Aphrodite. These fairytale flowers are easy to grow and make a low-maintenance addition to any garden.

Anemones grow wild in several regions, including North America, parts of Europe, and Japan. They are also a staple in many home gardens. Their soft, cup-shaped, daisy-like blooms can help fill out and brighten any garden space, and they are useful in attracting bees. Anemone flowers have also become popular in arrangements for weddings and bridal bouquets.

Though there are many varieties of anemones, they can fall into two groups: those grown from tubers and those that have fibrous roots. Anemone types grown from tubers will be found at your local gardening store with other bulbs, such as tulips, and do well planted with them. Anemones that grow with fibrous roots will be found already growing in containers with other perennials.

There are many varieties that bloom from early spring to late fall in a range of colors, including white, pink, red, blue, purple, and sometimes yellow. These different varieties mostly call for the same types of care, but some grow better than others in certain areas. It is important to know care details for the type of anemone you choose. Different types will call for different care, have different blooming times to go along with their different planting times, and different optimal garden placements.

All anemone varieties are poisonous if ingested and should be kept away from pets and children.

Growing Conditions for Anemones

All anemone plants like moist but not soggy soil, and they should always be planted in a well-draining container or area of the garden. Spring-blooming varieties do well in partial shade, while fall-blooming varieties are fine in partial shade to full sun.

The best zones for growing anemone flowers differ from plant to plant. For this reason, it is important to research the specific anemone type you have to make sure you’ve chosen what grows best in your area.

How to Plant Anemones

Using a garden fork, loosen the top layers of garden soil. If you wish to add compost to your soil, now is the time.

Planting Anemones from Tubers:

Tubers should be planted in the fall to bloom the next spring. If you live farther north of the suggested growing area of your selected plant, you will need to wait and plant your anemones in the spring.

To prepare the tubers, soak them in water for eight to 12 hours before planting. You will want to plant the tubers two to four inches deep in the soil and three to six inches apart. The oddly shaped tubers can be placed in the soil facing any direction. There is no distinct top or bottom. Water the soil thoroughly. If you chose not to soak your tubers, make sure you use enough water to soak them thoroughly during this first watering.

Planting Non-Tuber Anemones:

Container-grown anemones with fibrous roots can be planted any time during the growing season but will do best when planted in the spring. Make a hole twice the diameter of the container the plant is in and as deep. Make sure to place plants at least 10 inches apart. Gently remove the plant from the container and place it in the hole. Make sure the top of the root ball is even with the soil. Fill in the soil around the plant, and gently pack it in with your hands. Water thoroughly.

Care of Anemones

Anemones are generally a low-maintenance plant and do not need much ongoing care.

Follow a regular watering schedule to keep the soil moist. The soil should never be overly wet. Once the flowers bloom, they should last three to four weeks. If not harvested, the blossoms will fall off or be blown away.

Once the blooms have been spent, leave the plant’s foliage in place for its nourishment. Any foliage that is fading or dying can be trimmed away for appearances, but step this is not necessary to keep anemones healthy.

Prune plants to soil level in late fall to prepare them for winter. A layer of mulch, straw, or leaves can be added above them to help protect the plants from winter elements.
Garden Pests of Anemones

Anemones can fall prey to a few common garden pests. Here’s what you need to know to keep your anemone plants infestation-free.

Japanese beetles and blistering beetles may be the most common enemies of the anemone. The beetles will strip the plants of their blooms, causing damage that may take a long time to heal. You will notice the insects with their bright markings: bright orange for the blistering beetle and metallic green for the Japanese beetle.

Snails and slugs will stay hidden during the day and emerge overnight to eat large holes in the anemone’s foliage and flowers. These pests can be pinpointed by the slimy trails they leave over plants and garden soil.

Aphids and whiteflies will attach themselves to the leaves of the anemone plant to suck the juices from within. They will cover the leaves and other parts of the plant in sticky secretions that can lead to mold.

Foliar nematodes attack from the soil level during winter months and feed on the leaves and foliage of the plant. Their infestation will appear as black lesions on the anemone’s leaves.

Due to their poisonous nature, bigger varieties of garden pests, such as rabbits and deer, will leave anemones alone.

Anemone flowers can be cut from the plant once they have opened. Fresh-cut anemones are a welcome, delicate addition to any cut flower arrangement. The blooms will stay fresh in a vase for three to four days after being cut.

Anemone Flower Varieties to Grow in Your Home Garden

Japanese anemones usually produce a white or pink flower with a yellow and green center. They bloom from late summer to early fall and do well in zones 5 to 9.

Grecian windflower varieties come in blue, purples, pinks and whites, and all have yellow centers. They bloom from late winter to early spring and do well in zones 4 through 7.

Poppy anemones have black centers ringed with a white line. They come in red, blue, purple, and pink color varieties. With the black centers they resemble poppy flowers, hence their name. They bloom from late spring to early summer and do well in zones 6 through 9.

Shellie Elliott is a freelance writer and new mom based in Dallas, TX. She grew up gardening with her grandmother and has worked as a florist. She is currently obsessed with cacti and container gardening in small spaces.

Want to Learn More About Growing Anemones?

Learn how to grow Japanese anemones with this video from GardenClips.

Learn more about the poppy anemone with this segment from Grow Plants.

The Flower Expert

Longfield Gardens

Gardening Know How

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How to plant Wood Anemones

Wood Anemones light up the floor of deciduous woodlands in March and April with starry constellations of pure white or pink tinged blooms. The flowers are lifted above a shaggy carpet of lush green leaves, an emerald sky to the white star flowers.

This is not a flower I was familiar with in childhood and there are none in the woodlands near where I currently live. Travelling by car in a lane in West Berkshire last spring, I spotted a huge clump of them by the roadside, and immediately fell in love.

I was keen to try and get a patch going in my garden and this article describes how I went about it.

Sadly, I didn’t have my camera with me when I saw the roadside clump but if you want to know what they look like in a woodland setting, there are many beautiful images online. Follow the link here to the pages of the Woodland Trust, which contains some lovely photographs of this stunning woodland flower.

Where do wood anemones grow in the wild?

Wood Anemones are part of the ranunculus or buttercup family. Their latin name is Amemone nemorosa but have the endearing common names of Windflower and Ladies nightcap. Whilst in the same family, they are different from Anemone Blanda, which has more daisy-like, starry flowers in blue, white and pink.

Native to most parts of Northern Europe, the Wood Anemone grows under the canopy of deciduous woodland, where sunlight can permeate the bare branches and allow the flowers to open. They stubbornly refuse to open on dull or rainy days.

Large expanses of Wood Anemones can indicate an ancient woodland. Unlike bluebells and many other woodland flowers, they do not spread by seed, colonising slowly instead by extending their wormlike brown rhizomes through the leaf littered soil of the forest floor. A strong colony is therefore an indication of perfect conditions and years of slow but steady expansion.

Anemone nemorosa is the common wild species but in her book ‘Bulb’, Anna Pavord lists hybrids such as the pale yellow Anemone x lipsiensis ‘Pallida’ and a lavender coloured variety called ‘Allenii’.

Where to grow wood anemones

If you like the look of Wood Anemones, don’t be put off if you have a small garden or lack a woodland setting. Wood Anemones are surprisingly versatile in the garden. They will grow at any aspect and can tolerate sun or partial shade.

They do require moist soil, so any site which dries out in summer is unlikely to be suitable. The display should get better and better every year so it’s best to choose a site where the rhizomes can be left undisturbed to do their thing.

Sarah Raven flowers suggest planting them at the front of borders. I can imagine them adding a lacy frill to your floral displays if used in this way, but not if you change your displays regularly or could damage the rhizomes with your trowel whilst weeding.

J Parkers recommends them as rockery plants or even in patio pots.

My chosen site

Whilst I liked the idea of growing some in pots, the thought of establishing a small colony to replicate a woodland scene was too tempting. I remembered an unpromising site at the base of a large copper beech tree at the far end of my garden. The canopy provides shade in summer but will not be in leaf at flowering time, hopefully allowing the flowers to open on sunny days.

Nothing much was growing in this area apart from a hellebore, a few Elephant’s Ears (Bergenia), ferns, ivy and some self-seeded baby hollies and elders. A few Cyclamen hederifolium had also spread here from a neighbouring patch.

Planting options

Wood anemones are available from some suppliers actively growing in spring, or as dormant rhizomes in autumn. A third option is described in Anna Pavord’s book ‘Bulb’ – to plant them in autumn, freshly lifted at source and damp packed. An admittedly quick online search revealed no obvious suppliers of these, but it may be possible to find local suppliers for those in the know.

My mail-order plants in compostable pots from the Tiny Plant Company

The advantage of buying plants in the spring is that you can see they are healthy, can see they are in flower, and if looked after should establish well in their first season. The disadvantage is cost.

Last year the Tiny Plant Company kindly sent me their last few plants of Anemone nemorosa, potted in their ingenious compostable non-plastic pots. These beautiful plants cost £2.75 each so unless money is no object, this method is recommended for use in containers, or where a small display is sought in a rockery or border. Another great idea could be to nestle a handful of plants in between tree roots.

Anemone nemorosa rhizomes

If you’re looking to colonise a bigger area, planting a large number of dormant rhizomes in September, October or early November is the most cost effective method. I bought 50 rhizomes from Gee Tee bulbs, costing £12. Many suppliers, including Gee Tee and J Parkers reduce their prices if stock levels allow so it’s not too late to hunt online for a bargain.

Rhizome preparation

The rhizomes usually arrive fairly dry and packed with a small amount of dessicated compost in a plastic or paper bag. They very in length from 5 – 10cm long and are a deep mahogany brown colour. They look wormlike and fairly unpromising but up close I could see that some of mine were already beginning to sprout.

Rhizomes starting to sprout even before planting

It’s a good idea to soak the rhizomes overnight in water to stimulate growth. I didn’t do this as a window opened up for me to plant them when I wasn’t expecting and I was therefore unprepared. I take these opportunities when I can. As I was planting them into fairly moist soil I decided not to worry too much as I could always water them in.

Preparing the site

Leaf mould and litter scraped away and stored at the edge of the site.

I started by scraping back the leaf litter and mulch that was lying on my chosen area using a spade. I kept this is an large pile at the edge of the planting area. This revealed plants that I needed to move – the ferns and bergenia and those I needed to weed out, such as the self-seeded hollies and ivy.

I left the cyclamen hederifolium as this is a pretty woodland plant and should provide interest here in autumn if I can get it to spread. I was careful to leave a small area undisturbed as this was where I had planted the plants from the Tiny Flower company last spring. Luckily I had marked these with small green sticks.

Once weeded, I used a spade to scrape off the first 5cm or so of soil, and I placed this is a large trug.

Leaf mould and leaf litter scraped away – then the top 5cm of soil

I then placed the rhizomes horizontally across the entire area, 5-7cm apart, before covering them over with the reserved soil. Suppliers differ in their advice on planting depth with suggestions ranging from 4-10cm.

Wood anemone rhizomes on soil surface

Mine were covered in 5cm of soil, probably the minimum desirable, but I knew I had additional leaf-mould to add on top. You could add extra depth using homemade or bought compost.

Finally, I used a spade to redistribute the reserved leaf mould over the entire area.

Planting finished and area mulched in leaf mould

I watered the area but if you’re planting soaked rhizomes this shouldn’t be necessary.

I await the first signs of growth next spring and hope to share some lovely pictures here. Whilst in year one the display may be sparse, it should develop year after year to provide a stunning carpet of beautiful anemones in years to come.

One year on – an update

One year on – healthy leaves

A year after I planted the anemones in this area and all are looking healthy. The emerald green leaves shine out amongst the damp leaf litter and whilst there were no flowers in spring, the smattering of leaves shows the rhizomes are establishing and I hope it’s only a matter of time before the flowers come.

I continue to read about how tricky wood anemones are to establish and my experience doesn’t argue otherwise. I started this article describing how slow they are to colonise an area and how they are a symbol therefore of ancient woodland. I’ll be waiting for those starry white flowers in my garden a bit longer but it will be worth it.

Anemone

A varied group of herbaceous perennials with fibrous, rhizomatous or tuberous roots.

Family: Ranunculaceae
Botanical Name: Anemone
Common Names: Windflower
Foliage: Mid to bright green, palmately lobed. Deciduous.
Flowers: Rounded saucer-shaped or daisy like flowers, in a range colours, depending on type and variety.
Flowering Period: From early spring to late summer depending on type and variety.
Soil: A moist free-draining humus rich loam is best. Any pH will do but a limy soil is preferred for the best show of flowers.
Conditions: Full sun or dappled-shade, any aspect, exposed or sheltered.
Habit: Spreading, clump forming.
Type: corm, tuberous or rhizomatous rooted herbaceous plant.
Hardiness: Fully hardy in UK

Planting and Growing Anemones

Most varieties (except A. coronaria) enjoy partial sun or dappled shade. Plant spring flowering tuberous rooted kinds in their permanent positions from March to October. Plant summer flowering fibrous-rooted and rhizomatous kinds from September to March.

Taking Care of Anemones

Protect taller varieties from strong winds and provide support for tall-growing kinds in spring.

Pruning Anemones

Cut back dead foliage in the autumn.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to powdery mildew, plum rust and smut.

Propagating Anemones

Divide fibrous-rooted species in spring or autumn. Short-root cuttings about 2in (50mm) long can also be taken from September to October. Sow seeds of tuberous kinds in late summer.

Popular Varieties of Anemone Grown in the UK

A wide variety of species are available from the popular spring flowering A. blanda to the common Japanese variety.

Anemone blanda spring flowering, low growing perennial, with bright showy daisy-like blooms. Deep blue or white flowers appear from February to March over the emerging finely cut green foliage (pink cultivars are also available). Height and spread 6in (150mm). Leaves die back in early summer. Makes a good companion plant with dwarf narcissus.

Anemone coronaria bright green, lacy, foliage covered by poppy-like flowers, in wide range of colours. Height and spread 9in (225mm). Prefers a sunny site.

Anemone hupehensis a widely grown fibrous-rooted border plant with coarse-leaves and lovely pink or reddish saucer-shaped flowers (July to October). Height 2-3ft (600-900mm ), spread 2ft (600mm).

Anemone nemorosa (wood anemone) deeply cut dull green leaves with white flowers from March to May. Shade-loving. Naturalizes freely and is ideal for a lightly shaded woodland situation.

Anemone pavonina palmate leaves with red or purple flowers. Height 9-12in (225-300mm), spread 9in (225mm). March-April.

Anemone sylvestris a white flowering carpeting species, that flowers in spring and early summer. Can be invasive.

Anemone vitifolia large vine-like leaves with pure-white saucer-shaped flowers. July Height 2ft (600mm); spread 450mm (1.5ft).

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