Legend has it that anemones can predict rain. When their petals close, you better prepare because storm is coming. Anemones are also called ‘wind flowers’ and are associated with the love between Adonis and Aphrodite in Greek mythology. Today we are going to find out more about growing anemones in your own garden, if you’ve been charmed by their beauty as well.
Choose the Right Variety
What’s important to know when growing anemones is the fact that there are different types, depending on the moment you want to plant. You can start them either in the fall or in late winter/early spring. In general, the corms planted in spring aren’t as spectacular as the ones that grow in fall, but you can still obtain a beautiful harvest. If you live in an area that has mild winter temperatures, you can plant them in the fall and then overwinter them outdoors if you provide a little protection. But more about caring for them, later. For now, you just need to ask at the nursery if the bulb you are buying is suitable for what you want to do with it.
Choose the Right Soil
When growing anemones, it’s essential to find a location with a well-draining soil. If you have an area where you can still notice water puddles 5 – 6 hours after it rained, it’s better to choose another area. Alternatively, you can alter the soil by adding some organic material. This helps raise the level 2 – 3”, which further helps to improve the drainage. You can choose between peat moss garden tips, ground bark, compost or some decomposed manure, which are easy to find. As such, if you have a garden with heavy clay soil, it’s essential to use some DIY raised garden beds, otherwise, the bulbs will rot if you go through a wet winter.
Provide Enough Sunlight
In general, anemones need to enjoy full to half a day of sunlight. You can also keep them in light shade if you live in a warmer area. For example, the De Caen and St. Brigid varieties can grow in partial shade as well, but if you live in a cooler zone, you should keep them in full sun. Similarly, Anemone sylvestris, Anemone x hybrida and Anemone canadensis also grow either in sun, or in light shade.
Choose the Right Container
If you decide to plant your anemones indoors, it’s important to choose the right container for this. Whether you choose a pot, a barrel, a tub, or an urn, almost any potting medium you find on the market can do. What’s important when growing anemones in pots is to check if there are adequate drainage holes in the container. Keep in mind that anemones should never sit in waterlogged soil, otherwise, they will rot.
Then, you need to fill the containers you have with quality potting soil. Other than that, the conditions for growing anemones in containers are pretty much the same as when growing them in soil.
Soak the Bulbs
When you start unpacking the anemone corms, you will see that they don’t look too well. Usually, they look like some shriveled brown acorns, which is not at all what some gardeners expect. However, there’s no need to panic, since the little critters will end up producing loads of blooms in your own garden or home. Before you start planting, it’s important to soak the corms. Place them in lukewarm water for 2 – 3 hours or even overnight. If you want to provide them with some extra oxygen, you should leave the water running only slightly during the process. As they will soak up, the corms will start plumping up until they even double their size. This step gives them a wake up call so that they can grow strong roots in their first autumn.
Presprout the Corms
This is not a compulsory step, since after soaking you can plant the anemones straight into the ground. However, if you choose to do so, you will jumpstart the plants. This way, you can enjoy their flowers a couple of weeks earlier than if you wouldn’t. To do this, you need to take a seed tray with a flat bottom and fill it with some moist potting soil. Next, sprinkle the corms (after you’ve soaked them) into the soil. Cover the seeds with more soil until they’re completely covered.
Let the tray stay in a cool place for 10 – 14 days. Make sure no rodents can reach the tray. Every few days, check on it and see if the soil is still moist. However, it shouldn’t be soggy. Remember to remove any part that shows mold or rot. During this period, the corms will double their initial size and will grow small rootlets. When the roots measure 1/8 – ½” long, they’re ready for planting. You can check their length by pulling them up.
Dig the Holes
First, you need to loosen the soil or place some coarse growing mix in the pot. In general, you need to place the corms 5 – 6” apart, and set 5 rows for each raised bed.
Plant the Anemones
Some other bulbs have a certain shape to show you how to orient them when planting in the hole. Unlike them, anemones have a lumpy and irregular shape. Luckily, you can position the corms in any direction you want, and they will find their way to the sun as they grow. Keep in mind that you need to place them 2 – 3” deep.
Right after you planted the corms, you should water the containers (or the soil outside) well. Soak the soil until it settles around the bulbs. In fall, you will notice some roots forming. If you live in a warmer area, you can also notice some foliage developing during fall. Usually, buds and flowers appear in spring, but this also depends on what variety you chose for growing anemones in the beginning.
Caring for Anemones
Taking Care of Anemones
Now that you know the basic steps of growing anemones, it’s time to learn how to care for them as well. In about three months from planting, you will notice the flowers are in bloom. In general, these plants require little maintenance. The ones you planted in fall will bloom in early spring, and the bloom will last around 8 – 10 weeks. The anemones planted in late winter will flower by the middle of the spring and keep up for around 6 weeks. All this period, you only need to water them if you notice the soil is dry. However, if you live in a rainy area, the natural rainfall may be enough for them. In general, they need around 1” of water per week during the active growth periods.
Whether you chose to plant outside or you opted for growing anemones indoors, it’s important to protect your flowers from the harsh winter temperatures. When you notice the temperatures go below the freezing threshold, cover the anemones with frost cloth. One layer should be enough, but if you want to be extra-cautious, try two.
Cutting the Foliage
Do not cut the foliage when the blooming is finished. The leaves that remain have an important task: they gather sunlight and create food. This helps strengthen the bulbs for future blooms. At the end of the summer, you will notice the leaves turning yellow and dying back. This is the moment when the plant goes back to its dormant state. Only now you can remove the foliage and let the anemones rest. They will stay like this for a couple of months, until the next growing cycle begins.
Harvesting the Flowers
You can harvest your flowers as soon as you notice them opening. Cutting 1 – 2 flowers while they are in bloom in your containers or in the garden will not harm the plant, so you don’t need to worry about that. Their life in a vase can vary from 5 to 10 days, depending on the conditions, the variety you have, etc. A good trick is to add some preservative to the water. In this way, you can make sure that the petals will keep their bright colors until the flower dies. If you decide to keep them in a vase, check the water levels daily to make sure they last longer. Many gardeners prefer anemones because they are perfect for weaving into crowns or daisy chains, thanks to their long, wiry, and flexible stems.
Growing anemones is an easy job, especially if you’re truly passionate about gardening. Corms might need some special care before planting. However, once you get through this step, anemones will not require a lot of maintenance. It’s important to pay attention to their water needs, as well as to protect them from the harsh temperatures and winds. Luckily, there are easy ways to do so, and if you decide to grow your anemones inside, there’s one less problem you need to take care of.
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