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Zone
Zones vary by species.
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Moderate
Toxicity
All parts are poisonous if ingested.

Anemone

Windflower
Ranunculaceae
Perennials

Anemone includes a rich and varied group of plants ranging in size from alpine rock garden miniatures to tall Japanese anemones grown in borders; bloom extends from very early spring to fall, depending on species.

Most of the anemones described here have fibrous roots or creeping rhizomes or rootstocks, but A. blanda, A. coronaria, and A. x fulgens are grown from tubers requiring special attention. Set out A. blanda in fall; where winter temperatures drop below –10°F/–23°C, apply a thick mulch after first hard frost. Plant A. coronaria and A. x fulgens in fall where they are hardy in the ground; in cooler regions, plant in early spring. In warmer climates, some gardeners soak tubers for a few hours before planting.

Plant tubers scarred side up (look for depressed scar left by base of last year’s stem), setting them 1–2 in. deep and 8–12 in. apart in rich, light, well-drained loam. Or start in flats of damp sand; set out in garden when stems are a few inches tall. Keep soil moist during growth and bloom. Protect from birds until leaves toughen. In high-rainfall areas, excess moisture induces rot.

Tuberous types are best treated as annuals in rainy-summer or warm-winter climates, where they tend to be short lived. Tuberous anemones make good container plants.

Anemone blanda ‘White Splendor’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Anemone blanda ‘White Splendor’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Anemone blanda

Native to southeastern Europe. Tubers produce a spreading mat of finely divided, softly hairy leaves (clumps are wider spreading in colder climates). In spring, each 2–8-in.-tall stem bears a sky blue flower 1–1 1/2 in. across. Selections with 2-in. flowers on 10–12-in. plants include ‘Blue Star’, ‘Pink Star’, ‘White Splendor’, and purplish red ‘Radar’. All work well as underplantings for tulips, as groundcover drifts under deciduous shrubs and trees, and naturalized in short grass. Needs partial shade and distinct winter chill for best performance. 

Anemone canadensis

A North American native that grows to 1–2 ft. tall and spreads by creeping rhizomes. Its inch-wide, yellow-centered white flowers appear in twos and threes from the upper joints of divided leaves. Blooms profusely from late spring to early summer. Spreads vigorously; too invasive for small gardens. Needs partial shade and more water than most windflowers. 

Anemone coronaria ‘Mister Fokker’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Anemone coronaria ‘Mister Fokker’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Anemone coronaria

The species is rarely seen in gardens; it has been replaced by showy large-flowered hybrids valued for cutting and for spectacular spring color. Blossoms are 1 1/2–2 1/2 in. across, borne singly on 6–18-in. stems above finely divided leaves; colors include red, blue, tones and mixtures of these colors, and white. Among the most popular strains are De Caen (single flowers) and St. Brigid (semidouble to double). Full sun or partial shade. 

Anemone nemorosa
Anemone nemorosa

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Anemone nemorosa

European native to 1 ft. high, with creeping rhizomes, deeply cut leaves, and inch-wide white spring flowers held above the foliage. Spreads slowly to make an attractive woodland groundcover. Many named varieties exist, some with blooms in pink or blue.

Anemone sylvestris

European native growing from creeping rootstock to 1 1/2 ft. tall. Fragrant, 1 1/2–3-in., yellow-centered white flowers open in spring and are followed by cottony seed heads. Spreads readily in damp, wooded locations. ‘Macrantha’ has larger blossoms; ‘Flore Pleno’ is double-flowered. Partial or full shade.

Anemone tomentosa (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Anemone tomentosa (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Anemone tomentosa

Vigorous, fibrous-rooted Tibetan native often sold as A. vitifolia ‘Robustissima’. Foliage resembles grape leaves, grows in a spreading clump that gives rise to branching, 3 1/2-ft.-tall stems bearing single pink flowers in late summer, early fall. Allow 3 ft. between plants. Partial shade.

Anemone x hybrida (photo courtesy of Bob Wigand)
Anemone x hybrida (photo courtesy of Bob Wigand)

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Anemone x hybrida

Long-lived, fibrous-rooted perennial indispensable for fall flower color. Graceful, branching stems 2–4 ft. high rise from clump of three- to five-lobed leaves covered with soft hairs. Single or semidouble flowers in white, silvery pink, or rose. Many named varieties are available.

Slow to establish, but once started it spreads readily if roots are not disturbed. Space plants 2 ft. apart. May need staking. Mulch in fall where winters are severe. Increase by divisions in fall or early spring or by root cuttings in spring. Effective in clumps in front of tall shrubbery or under high-branching trees.

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