How to Grow Anemones For Spring Colour

Written by Hannah Miller. Reviewed and Fact Checked by Elizabeth Smith. Published to Spring Plants. Updated: 18th February 2023.

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Anemone is a genus of over 200 flowering plants from the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family.

The plants can be placed into one of several groups, and for spring and early summer flowering, I suggest anemone “blanda”, “nemorosa” and “coronaria”.

Key points:

  1. Based on my testing and experimenting, I think you should choose “blanda” for groundcover up to 15cm (6″), “nemorosa” for plants up to 25cm (10″) and “coronaria” for slightly taller plants up to 50cm (20″).
  2. I’ve found these three are fully hardy in the UK, although “coronaria” is the most sensitive to frost, especially if grown in pots.
  3. Spring-flowering, although “coronaria” will flower in the summer if planted in the spring.

“coronaria” makes for excellent cut flowers and is the one you’ll see in florists.

Size

Depending on species:

Height: From 15cm to 40cm (6-16″)

Spread: 20cm to 50cm (8-20″)

Type

Type

Deciduous: Dies back after flowering and reappears the following season

Growth icon

Growth

Reaches full height in year 1 but spreads over time at a fast rate

Difficulty

Easy to grow and can be potted

Native

All parts of the world apart from Australia, New Zealand and Antarctic

Location

Moderately fertile soil that is moist but free-draining

Sunlight

“coronaria” prefers a sunny spot but others thrive in partial sun, dappled or in light shade

Hardiness

US zone 4-9 (coronaria 7-10) and all parts of the UK

Water & Feed

Water after planting, then leave alone

Companions

Perfect with other spring-flowering bulbs inc muscari, tulips, alliums as well as shrubs, grasses and ferns

Planting

Plant three times the depth of the corm and 8cm apart in the autumn for spring flowering. Rhizomes can be planted shallower, around 3cm

Flowering

Spring

White anemone petals
Purple anemone plant

Growing Anemone: Answers to Common Questions

How and When are Anemones Sold?

Anemone “blanda” and “coronaria” are sold as corms while “nemorosa” is sold as a rhizome.

All are sold from mid-summer onwards for planting in autumn.

I often see potted anemones in garden centres from early spring onwards, at significant markup, of course.

Where is the best location for anemones?

I’ve grown all three, and from my experience, anemone “coronaria” preferred a sunny spot while “blanda” and “nemorosa” thrived in dappled sun and light shade.

From what I know, anemones will die if the roots sit in water, so I always grow them in a spot with good drainage, and I’ve added grit and other improvements to my soil to help.

How should the site be prepared?

This perennial prefers moderately fertile soil that’s free draining, so dig in organic matter to improve the ground conditions if required.

I’ve always soaked the corms and rhizomes in lukewarm water for a few hours before planting out, it’s a trick I was taught a few years ago by an experienced horticulturist.

How much water or fertiliser do anemones require?

Water anemones immediately after planting and then leave them alone to settle naturally.

I’ve never found the need to fertilise anemones unless they’re grown in pots, although I always top up the soil with a good mulch of compost or leaf mould once a year.

How tall and wide will anemones grow?

I measured my anemones a few years ago, and here are the sizes they grew to:

“blanda” grew up to 15cm (6″) high with a spread of around 15cm (6″).

“nemorosa” reached 25cm (10″) and spread to 50cm (20″).

“coronaria” grew to 50cm (20″) and spread 20cm (8″).

How should anemones be pruned and deadheaded?

I deadhead them as they make for lovely cut flowers, but there’s no benefit to the plant.

After flowering, I leave the foliage in place until it has turned yellow.

Do anemones suffer from any pests and diseases?

I’ve found that slugs, snails and caterpillars are attracted to all of the anemones I grew. I’ve treated them with a variety of products.

Powdery mildew can affect this plant but can usually be deterred or removed by improving the airflow around the plant.

When do anemones bloom and how long for?

In my garden, “blanda” and “memorosa” bloomed in early spring for around 4 weeks.

“coronaria” put on a show from spring into mid-summer.

Can anemones be propagated?

The best way to propagate anemones is by seed or by division.

I’ve only ever tried division, and the anemones recovered well.

Are anemones toxic or harmful to humans and pets?

All anemones are toxic to humans and pets.

Source1

Source2

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Are anemones beneficial to wildlife?

Anemones are beneficial to bees and other pollinators as they are a great source of pollen.

Source.

Can anemones be grown in pots?

All anemones can be grown in pots and I’ve seen “coronaria” is several gardens and garden centres.

Potted anemones will require more watering and more feed than those located in the garden but there’s no reason they can’t be grown in pots.

Try These:

Anemone St Brigid x 50 Flower Bulbs/Corms. Pretty Mixed Flowers. Size 5/6
Anemone x 50 Bulbs corms De Caen Mixture Mixed by Growtanical®
Anemone St Brigid x 50 Flower Bulbs/Corms. Pretty Mixed Flowers. Size 5/6
Anemone x 50 Bulbs corms De Caen Mixture Mixed by Growtanical®
Anemone St Brigid x 50 Flower Bulbs/Corms. Pretty Mixed Flowers. Size 5/6
Anemone St Brigid x 50 Flower Bulbs/Corms. Pretty Mixed Flowers. Size 5/6
Anemone x 50 Bulbs corms De Caen Mixture Mixed by Growtanical®
Anemone x 50 Bulbs corms De Caen Mixture Mixed by Growtanical®

Anemones at a Glance:

Are you thinking of growing anemones? I’ve been growing them for years, and based on my testing and experimenting; I’ve got a few tips for you:

  1. Choose “blanda” or “nemorosa” for groundcover; I’ve found these two spread easily and quickly.
  2. “coronaria” is best grown in pots or beds for its taller stems and is less likely to spread aggressively.
  3. Plant in autumn for a spring display.
  4. Plant “coronaria” in a sunny spot but I’ve found that the other anemones perform better in partial shade or dappled sun.
  5. I usually add compost and/or leafmould to improve the soil, where necessary.
  6. I soak the corms and rhizomes in lukewarm water for a few hours before planting.
  7. I plant “nemorosa” rhizomes 2cm deep and 8cm apart.
  8. Corms from “coronaria” and “blanda” are best buried 8cm deep and 8cm apart.
  9. I water after planting, then leave them alone although I pay extra attention to potted anemones as they’re more likely to dry out.
  10. Once they became established, my anemones in beds required very little attention, I just left the foliage in place after flowering until it turned yellow and wilted. However, my potted anemones needed more water and feed during the growing season.

Anemone Companion Plants

“blanda” and “nemorosa” provide groundcover and I’ve used them as underplanting for taller bulbous plants such as tulips, daffodils and alliums and even under shrubs and roses where they provided low-level interest.

“coronaria” is taller and sat well alongside grasses, ferns, hostas in my garden as well as many of the other taller spring flowering plants.

Consider these plants as they make for great companion plants:

Also consider:

Alternatives

Anemones are a member of the Ranunculus (buttercup) genus and there are some similar plants that you could grow as alternatives.

For groundcover or placement under taller plants consider aconites or hellebores.

For wildflowers, consider common poppies or make a statement with the larger oriental poppy.

Clematis produce similar flowers but with the ability to climb, my recommend clematis for spring colour is clematis montana.

Also, consider plants from the daisy family such as coneflowers and rudbeckia.

Problems, Pests and Diseases

I’ve never had any major issues growing anemones, and my experience has been problem-free, but here are solutions to common issues:

1) Why are my anemones not flowering?

From what I know, this is usually caused by one of the following:

  1. The corms or rhizomes weren’t soaked in water before planting.
  2. Anemones grown in full shade may be weak and produce no flowers or just buds that don’t open.
  3. The soil is overly dry during the growing season.

2) What is eating anemone leaves?

Shredded leaves are a tell-tale sign of slugs, snails and caterpillars, an issue I suffer from here in my Surrey garden.

General slug and snail products and advice can be found here.

3) Why are my anemones turning yellow and wilting?

This could be due to:

  • The time of year – anemones will die back after flowering and reappear next year.
  • Powdery mildew.
  • Eelworms travel through the stems and leaves, turning them yellow and killing the plant. From what I’ve been told, you’ll need to dig up and burn the plant, do not compost it.

Elizabeth Smith’s Anemone Pro Tip

Here is a quote from Elizabeth Smith, a qualified horticulturist:

“blanda” and “nemorosa” make for excellant low-growing groundcover but can spread aggressively so only locate them in a spot where they can naturalise and be left to spread.

“coronaria” sits well in mixed beds or in pots and makes excellant cut flowers.

Elizabeth Smith – qualified horticulturist

More Photos

Pink anemones on a white background
closeup of red anemone flower
Blue anemone petals and flower against a black background
Pink anemones, stems and buds against foliage background

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This guide was reviewed and fact-checked by qualified horticulturist Elizabeth Smith.

Explore: Elizabeth's profile and qualifications.

Meet The Author: Hannah Miller

Hannah is a keen gardener who grows organic fruit and vegetables in her Surrey garden and is moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle. 

She is also the proud grower of a dahlia and herb garden.

Hannah worked for the NHS for 12 years but also has a level 3 qualification in horticulture and is currently studying for her level 4.

More About Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller

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This anemone growing guide was published by DIY Gardening

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