Anemones, often referred to as windflowers, are a genus of flowers in the Ranunculaceae or buttercup family.
Most are hardy bulbs that thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 10 depending on the species, but some are herbaceous perennials.
Flower colors range from pure white and pastel pinks to lovely shades of blue, purple and red. Some flowers have distinct yellow centers that contrast nicely with their petals. There are both spring-blooming and fall-blooming anemones.
Light and Temperature Requirements
Anemones prefer full sun to partial shade, but this depends on the species. As a rule, those planted in northern climates can withstand full sun while those planted in southern climates benefit from some shade, but each species has its own preferences. Always check the light requirements for the specific species you are planting.
Some species of anemones are cold hardy to USDA plant hardiness zone 4, while others do not survive the winters in zones below 7. Anemones can be grown as annuals in cooler climates but must be planted in the spring for a late summer or fall bloom.
Anemones prefer moist soil that drains well but will suffer in soggy soil. Water your anemones once or twice a week when the soil feels dry 1-inch below the surface. Continue to water them even after blooming has ceased as they will continue to produce and store energy from the sun in the underground corms for next year’s blooms.
Soil & Fertilizing
Anemones prefer organic soil rich in humus. Amend the soil with a 2-to-3-inch layer of compost, well-rotted manure or peat moss and work it into the existing soil at planting time. They prefer soil that is slightly acidic, generally with a pH between 5.6 and 7.5.
Fertilize anemones with an all-purpose fertilizer in the spring when new growth appears and again after blooming has ceased. Another application in the fall will also help build strong roots.
Deadheading and Pruning
Like most flowering plants, removing spent flowers improves the appearance of the flowerbed, but it isn’t necessary. Deadheading anemones will not force new blooms to form.
Anemones are started from corms, enlarged underground stems similar to bulbs. Spring blooming varieties should be planted in the fall 6 to 8 weeks before the soil freezes, while fall-blooming anemones should be planted in the spring as soon the ground thaws and the soil can be worked.
1. Soak the corms in a bucket or bowl of water for 4 hours. Use water at room temperature or slightly warmer for this. This hydrates the corm and gets it ready for planting.
2. Prepare a bed for the corms in a sunny or partially sunny location by turning the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Add a 2- to 3- inch layer of organic matter, such as peat moss or compost, and work it into the soil. Add bone meal at a rate of 10 pounds per 100 square feet or 1 teaspoon for each corm and mix it in well. You can also use bulb fertilizer.
3. Plant the corms to a depth of 2 inches spaced 4 inches apart. Cover them with soil and firm it down with your hands. This removes air pockets around the corm.
4. Soak the soil to the level of the corms.
Some prefer to pre-sprout anemone corms to get a jump-start on the season, especially if they are planting them in the spring. Soak the bulbs in water for at least 4 hours. Fill a tray halfway with potting mixture and place the soaked corms in the soil. Cover the corms with soil and place it in a cool location where temperatures remain between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil moist. When young roots have formed in approximately two weeks remove the corms from the tray and plant them in the desired location in your garden.
Do not cut back the foliage on your anemone plants when they stop blooming. The foliage will continue to make and store energy via photosynthesis for next year’s blooms. Remove the foliage once it has yellowed and died back. If the leaves pull away from the corm easily it is safe to remove them.
Mulch your anemones in the fall with a 3- to 4-inch layer of straw or leaves, especially if you live in a northern climate where the corms may suffer damage from ice and snow in the winter. Remove the mulch in the spring when new growth appears.