how to plant, grow & care for anemones
complete growing guide
Drifts of delicate wild wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa) are a heart-lifting sight in spring – pure, simple and pretty they can be planted to weave among showier bulbs. Over the years, in the right conditions, they will colonise until there’s hardly a patch of bare ground. Their near relative Anemone blanda has larger flowers and more colour variations. It mixes well with wild wood anemones, self-seeds prolifically and is perfect for early spring displays when grown in pots.
Anemone coronaria is the vibrantly colourful flower that you buy in bunches from the florist. They are easy and rewarding to grow in pots or in the garden and planted regularly will provide cut flowers for months on end.
- Common name: Anemone
- Latin name: Anemone
- Type: Anemone nemorosa - perennial rhizome, Anemone blanda - perennial corm, Anemone coronaria - tender perennial corm
- Height: Anemone nemorosa 10-15cm (4-6in), Anemone blanda 25cm (10in), Anemone coronaria 20-40cm (8-15in)
- TLC rating: Easy once established
- Aspect: Part shade for Anemone nemorosa and blanda, full sun for Anemone coronaria
- Planting position: Borders, Containers
- Suitable for pots: Yes, Anemone coronaria, in particular, grows very well in pots
- Good for pollinators: Yes
- Good for cut flowers: Yes
anemone nemorosa & anemone blanda
how to grow anemones
where to grow anemones
Soil type: The wood anemone (Anemone 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. It also has a wide pH tolerance, occurring in the wild on almost all types of soil so, once in, they should do well.
The Anemone blanda group likes good drainage, in light shade with loose, leafy soil so, when planting in dense areas, try to mix in plenty of leaf mould. A light, sandy, free draining soil is ideal for Anemone coronaria.
Aspect & position: Plant Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda in light shade in a spot where they won’t be disturbed so that they can spread. Plant Anemone coronaria in full sun. To flower best they need good light intensity, and will sulk in a dull corner.
when to plant anemones
Plant Anemone blanda and Anemone nemorosa in September and October. Plant Anemone coronaria in spring for flowers in early summer, in early summer for autumn and in autumn for spring flowering.
how to plant anemones
planting anemone nemorosa and anemone blanda
Anemone nemorosa rhizomes look like little twigs so plant flat, 2cm deep and 8cm apart. Make sure to soak them before planting. They will double in size and start growing more quickly than if planted dry.
With Anemone blanda it can be difficult to tell which side is up, but don’t worry, the leaves will find their own way to the surface. Plant your corms 8cm deep and 8cm apart. Soak blanda corms for 3-4 hours before planting.
growing in a pot
Plant as above but 5cm apart (and a good 10cm away from the edge of the pot) in a loam-based compost with added leaf mould and top with sharp grit.
planting anemone coronaria
Plant Anemone coronaria directly outside in April for June and July flowering, or in June for September flowering. Anemone coronaria can also be planted in the greenhouse, or outdoors under cloches in mild areas, in September-October for February and March flowering.
Soak the corms overnight before planting. Rehydrated, they have a bit of give and they germinate and come into growth much more quickly.
growing anemone coronaria in a pot
We plant the knobbly fat corms into their pots in September and they usually appear around early February in our frost-free greenhouse.
To get them off to a fast start, soak the corms in water overnight or for 3-4 hours before planting. Rehydrated, they come into growth much more quickly.
They like a rich, loam-based soil in their pot. Plant them shallow, in a pot with decent depth as they have quite a deep root run. Plant them about 5cm (2in) deep and about 10cm (4in) apart. Water them well on planting and then leave them be, checking occasionally that the soil is not bone dry, but don't overwater. They'll rot if too wet, but need moist soil and will take 10 to 12 weeks from planting to flowering.
You can move your pots outside once the risk of frost has passed.
planting anemone coronaria outside
For most sites, Anemone coronaria need to be protected from frosts and should therefore be planted out in the garden when all danger of frost is passed. Plant in a light, sandy soil in full sun. It is beneficial to soak the corms for 24 hours in tepid water prior to planting.
how to care for anemones
Water Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda well when planting, they should not need further watering unless grown in pots.
For Anemone coronaria, water well when planting in pots and moderately in early growth, overwatering is more of a problem than underwatering.
Keep anemones dry during their dormant period.
Give Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda a liquid feed if you are growing them in pots. For anemone coronaria you can use a liquid feed, like liquid seaweed, when in flower.
You will not need to stake wood anemones or Anemone blanda. Anemone coronaria grows to a slightly taller height and twiggy support can be used if needed.
Deadheading is unnecessary for Anemone blanda and wood anemones. With Anemone coronaria, if you haven’t picked them all to bring indoors, cut back any that have finished flowering to encourage more flowers.
Left to their own devices, Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda will spread over time. Anemone nemorosa is quite a slow coloniser and can take years to spread more than a few feet.
Anemone blanda readily self-sows. I first had a pot of the blue-flowered Anemone blanda on the doorstep outside my office at Perch Hill five years ago. After flowering the pot was moved to the Oast garden and from that small pot most of the spring Oast garden is a now a sea of blue. The seeds blow around and settle into any chink in your planting, taking hold and then gently spreading from there.
lifting & transplanting
Once Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda are well-established you can lift a clump and move it to another spot in the garden in spring, once they have finished flowering.
Anemone coronaria can be lifted and dried after flowering. Lift and dry anemone coronaria every two years, then replant. Soak the corms before planting.
Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda are perfectly hardy, so pots can be left where they are overwinter.
If growing Anemone coronaria in pots, once they have finished flowering allow them to dry out and go dormant before starting them into active growth again.
- Enjoy the arrival of Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda flowers.
- Plant Anemone coronaria outdoors for summer picking.
- Pick autumn sown Anemone coronaria.
- Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda will go dormant in summer and disappear entirely.
- Pick, pick, pick Anemone coronaria and liquid feed when in flower.
- Plant new Anemone nemorosa and blanda corms and add a topdressing of leaf mould to established areas.
- Plant Anemone coronaria in pots and outdoors in milder areas.
- Ensure Anemone coronaria in pots are kept in a frost-free place.
pests, diseases & common issues
slugs & caterpillars
Watch out for slugs and caterpillars, they can damage anemone plants. Pick them off by hand when you see them. You can also use harmless slug repellents such as wool pellets, which form a natural barrier to slugs.
Eelworms are tiny pests that travel through the plant, turning leaves yellow and distorting and stunting growth. Dig up affected plants and dispose of them – don’t compost.
Powdery mildew can affect plants growing in the shade, like Anemone nemorosa or Anemone blanda, or where the air is always still. Remove any affected leaves.
why are my anemones dying?
Once anemones have flowered, they die right back and go dormant – there is no need to worry.
why are my anemones not growing?
If the corms are dry when you plant them, they probably won’t grow – make sure you soak them before planting. On the other hand, you may have overwatered them which can cause the corms to rot.
frequently asked questions
are anemones poisonous to pets?
Yes, anemones are poisonous to pets like cats and dogs.
are anemones perennials?
Yes, they will reappear year after year if given the right care. However, it is not recommended that you plant Anemone coronaria outside in cold regions where soil gets deeply frozen – they may not survive the winter.
do anemones need full sun?
Anemone coronaria loves sunshine and should be situated in full sun. Light shade is fine for Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda. These anemones are happy in deciduous woodlands so a mix of sun and shade is ideal.
do anemones multiply and spread?
Yes, Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda rhizomes and corms will spread and multiply, as well as colonising new areas by seed. Anemone coronaria will self-seed in the right spot.
can anemones grow in pots?
Yes, Anemone coronaria do very well in pots. Anemone nemorosa and anemone blanda can be grown in pots but are happier in the ground.
can anemones survive frost?
Yes, Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda are fully hardy. Anemone coronaria don’t mind the cold, but when grown in pots they need protection from winter wet.
will deer & squirrels eat anemones?
No, anemones are poisonous to deer and squirrels so they tend to avoid them.
can anemones be left in the ground?
Yes, Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda don’t like to be disturbed. If you leave Anemone coronaria in the ground, it’s a good idea to add a protective mulch or use a cloche.
will anemones bloom in their first year?
Yes, Anemone coronaria will reliably flower in its first year. Top size corms of Anemone nemorosa and Anemone blanda will flower in the first year.
what to grow with anemones
Grow wood anemones and Anemone blanda with other spring flowers and bulbs. Anemone coronaria looks fabulous popping up among other sun-loving cottage garden plants.
how to cut & arrange anemones
Sear anemone stem ends in boiling water for 15 seconds and they last, and hold their petals, for up to a week.
Anemone coronaria are lovely cut flowers, colourful and bright and will last for two weeks if kept cool and have a drop of bleach added to the water. They make a zingy duo with the searingly bright hyacinth, 'Jan Bos' (it is easy to force into flower around the same time) and then later in spring combine with wallflowers, euphorbias and a few snakeshead fritillaries in a hand-tied bunch.
Get more inspiration for displaying your flowers with our flower arranging videos: