Origin and appearance
Whether in early spring, summer or autumn: The perennial species of the genus Anemone (Anemone) bloom in various seasons. The generic name derives from the Greek word “anemos”, the wind – probably because the fine flowers move at the slightest breeze. This very variable genus includes about 120 species, from low forest flowers to high bedding shrubs, which, depending on the species, grow both in sunny and shady locations. Almost all of them are hardy with us. The buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) has its natural habitat in the most different habitats, most of them on the northern hemisphere, some few however also in southern climes. The majority of the species can be found naturally in bushes, forests and on shady rocky slopes in China, Japan and North America, the great forest anemone (Anemone sylvestris) grows from Central Europe to the Caucasus and the three-leaved anemone (Anemone trifolia) and the narcissi anemone (Anemone narcissiflora) come from Southern Europe.
To the most known representatives of this type belong the Balkan anemone (Anemone blanda), the native anemone (Anemone nemorosa) and the autumn flowering anemones (Anemone hupehensis, Anemone japonica and Anemone tomentosa). In mild weather, the Balkan anemone opens its flowers in light shade as early as February. Depending on the variety, it blooms in white, blue or various shades of pink and grows to a height of between 10 and 15 centimetres. A little later follows the wood anemone with its small flowers, which is hardly larger than the Balkan wood anemone. Its flowers are mostly white, some lover varieties also bloom in pale pink or light lavender blue. The spring flowering anemones prefer permeable, sandy-humose soils in light shade, e.g. under deciduous shrubs, and between April and June the large forest anemone shows its bright white flowers. It resembles optically the Buschwindröschen, becomes however clearly bigger with 40 centimeters of growth-height. After flowering, woolly seeds form, which are also very pretty to look at. Even if the name suggests that it is more comfortable in shady areas, it tolerates sun and dryness. At an optimal location, the large forest anemone – thanks to its ability to form runners – can spread very strongly. It therefore needs planting partners who can keep this urge to spread under control.
The particularly beautiful and elegant representatives of this genus clearly include the autumn anemones. The three Asian species Anemone japonica, Anemone hupehensis and Anemone tomentosa are the starters in the semi-shade herbaceous bed between July and October with delicate, partly translucent, double or unpleaded flowers in white, pink up to carmine red. Anemone hupehensis opens the flowers already in July, while A. japonica and A. tomentosa usually do not open their delicate flowers until August, but carry them into October. All three species come from Asia. They were already introduced to Central Europe in the 19th century, where they are becoming increasingly popular. For this reason, numerous breeding forms and several hybrid varieties are now available.
Autumn anemones thrive best in a loamy, humus- and nutrient-rich soil in semi-shade. They also tolerate sunny locations, but here the soil must be evenly moist. The advantage of a sunny location is that the flower is all the richer. After flowering, autumn anemones form very handsome, woolly seeds. The growth height of this anemone group varies between 50 and 120 centimetres. The up to nine centimeter large shell flowers sit on filigree but stable stems that rise above the nest of leaves. This gives these perennials a very elegant appearance. Particularly beautiful varieties among the autumn anemones are the white flowering ‘Honorine Jobert’ (Anemone Japonica hybrid) and the early flowering pink variety ‘Praecox’ (Anemone hupehensis).
Between July and October, autumn anemones are the flowering stars in the bed, in the anemone Japonica hybrids for example the pink variety ‘Queen Charlotte’ (left) or the elegant white variety ‘Honorine Jobert’ (right).
As diverse as the genus and the flowering period are the possible uses. The bush anemone and the Balkan anemone are well suited for extensive planting under woody plants. They spread over rhizomes and form large populations over the years. Since the spring flowering plants return early, a “Plan B” is needed for the bed design, i.e. a second pile of shade shrubs that covers the yellowing leaves in summer. The high autumn anemones are usually planted individually or in small groups. They add colour to the autumnal herbaceous bed. Beautiful combination partners are for example the monkshood (Aconitum), the silver candle (Actaea), Funkien (Hosta) or the perennial sunflower ‘Lemon Queen’ (Helianthus-Microcephalus hybrid), whose yellow flowers form a great contrast to pink flowering autumn anemones. But also between the fine panicles of autumn-flowering ornamental grasses the elegant flowers come into their own. The perennials are also suitable for pot cultivation on the balcony because of their long flowering period.
The planting season for autumn anemones is in spring. So they can grow well up to the winter and delight us already in the first autumn with their bloom. The earlier the shrubs are planted, the better they will survive the first winter. If they are set late, a light winter protection is recommended. The rhizomes of spring flowering anemones are planted in autumn. As they dry out easily, they should not be stored for long after purchase and should be placed in the water overnight before planting.
If you regularly remove withered flowers from Anemone hupehensis, the flowering time will be extended. However, the main pruning of all autumn anemones should not take place until spring.
Autumn anemones are very long-lived even without rejuvenation, but tend to spread strongly over time. They can be divided in the spring in order to reduce their size and at the same time to have offspring. So the plants have enough time until the summer to form new roots and flower again in the same year. Who wants to reduce the plant carpets of the spring anemones, stings simply after the bloom a few pieces off and places them again in other place – they grow problem-free further.
In cold locations, autumn anemones should be protected with some foliage in the first two winters after planting and with fir twigs in the case of clear frosts.
Further care tips
Autumn anemones are very robust and almost indestructible. The leaves of the anemone occasionally turn yellow because the soil is too alkaline. In this case spread some needle litter, leaf or bark compost as mulch on the surface.
Most anemone species are multiplied by division. Autumn anemones can be cultivated by root cuttings. Reproduction by seed is only recommended for wild species, as the offspring of the garden varieties differ in appearance from the mother plant.
Diseases and pests
Occasionally anemones are attacked by aphids or mildew. More frequently, they are nibbled also by snails. If you discover dead tissue between the leaf veins of autumn anemones, this indicates an infestation with nematodes.
In an interview with our store editor Dieke van Dieken, plant doctor René Wadas reveals his tips against aphids.Credits: Production: Folkert Siemens; Camera and Editing: Fabian Primsch
Anemones in the our store-Shop
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.