Anemone Planting Guide

Love the look of anemones? (Really, who doesn’t?) Great for edgings and cut flowers, these fluttery sweeties are easy, dependable late spring to summer bloomers. Just choose the right type of anemone for your region and you’re all set.

Choosing Anemones for Your Part of the Country

You’ll find two types of anemones on this site: the blanda or windflowers, and coronaria or poppy anemones.

The blanda type is ideal for cooler regions of the country, can easily handle the frigid winters of zone 4 and are planted in the fall (z4-8) to early winter (z7b-8) so they have time to root in before spring.

Coronaria anemones are well suited to areas with cool springs and warmer winters; the Northwest is ideal. These anemones can be planted where the soil doesn’t freeze, in zones 8-10 (7 with protection). Coronaria anemenies do not perform well in regions where spring and summer temperatures are high or in regions with lots of humidity. 

Sadly, neither type of anemone tends to thrive in the deep South.

Choosing a Growing Site

Choose a site with full sun to partial shade for your anemones. Windflowers are happy in sun or partial shade. Poppy anemone flower best in full sun.

Soil Prep for Anemones

Look for a site where the soil drains well. Anemones grow well in average garden soil, and as with most bulbs, very good drainage is important to help avoid bulb rot. Note: we do not recommend amending the soil with bone meal as it encourages pets and pests to dig up the freshly planted bulbs.

When to Plant Anemones

Wind flowers/blanda anemones are planted in the fall to early winter, depending on growing zone. Coronaria anemones can be planted in the spring or fall.

Spring purchased anemones are for planting in the spring and anemone bulbs purchased in the fall should be planted in the fall. Holding anemone bulbs from one season to the next often reduces performance and is not recommended. 

For spring planted anemones, wait until any risk of frost has past before putting in the ground. Allow the soil temperature to reach 55 degrees and avoid planting in soil that is still wet from winter. Cold, wet soil encourages bulb rot. For fall plantings, any time after the soil has cooled from summer’s heat is fine.

How to Plant Anemone Bulbs

Soaking: Start by soaking your bulbs for about 3 hours to soften the tough outer skins and rehydrate the bulbs. Put some room temperature water in a bowl in the sink, add the bulbs and let the faucet run just a little bit to add oxygen to the water. This increases the sprouting ratio dramatically. 

Pre-Sprouting:  Although not required, pre-sprouting is recommended as it improves the "take rate" significantly. To presprout, plant soaked (see above) bulbs in a seed tray that has 1.5" of very slightly damp peat-based seed starting mix in place. Tuck the bulbs into the mix about an inch apart. Cover with another inch of lightly damp soil. Place the tray in a cool indoor spot; 50 to 60 degrees is perfect. No light is needed as the bulbs are under the soil at this stage. Give the bulbs 10 days to wake up and sprout roots. Then plant outdoors where they will grow for the season.

Outside: Loosen the soil to 4” deep and add a handful or two of compost to the soil you removed. Place a bit of the amended soil back into the holes and plant your anemone bulbs 2 to 3 inches below the soil line. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which end is which on these bulbs, so just plant them on their sides and they’ll right themselves. Refill the hole with soil, pat to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil around the bulb.

Space the bulbs 5 to 6 inches apart. Lightly moist soil is needed to avoid having the bulbs or new growth succumb to rot. Do not overwater.

During the Growing Season

Anemone plants need about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two.

At Season’s End

After flowering, your anemone foliage will photosynthesize and create food for next year’s show. Don’t snip it off; let it do its work. Afer blooming, the bulbs will go dormant and the foliage will yellow. Feel free to remove the spent leaves at this point. Anemones don’t need, nor benefit from, any extra moisture after blooming. When fall temperatures cool, the bulbs will develop new roots and will wait for spring rains and warmth to prompt the next cycle of growth and blooms. Bulbs left outside in zones 8-10 will resprout in the spring. 

Insider Tips

  1. Plant 5 to 6 inches apart.
  2. Windflowers are excellent for planting in perennial beds to bridge the bloom window between spring bulbs and early summer perennials. These plants also do well in dappled shade, like that found under limbed up deciduous trees.
  3. Both types of anemones here have pretty, lacy foliage.
  4. Poppy anemones look great in a vase for up to 10 days. Snip when the flowers are mostly open and add floral preservative to the vase water to ensure that petal color is retained. These continue to grow an extra couple of inches as the flower open, so keep that in mind as you create bouquets and floral arangements.
  5. Too little sun and/or excessive heat may results in limited flower production or malformed flowers for poppy anemones.
  6. Poppy anemones grown for cutting also thrive in cool greenhouses and hoop houses, with temperatures in the 55-60 degree range. 
  7. Windflowers will form spreading colonies when planted in favorable sites. Poppy anemonies do not tend to spread and tend to be fairly short-lived perennials. 
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Success Snapshot

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Average soil

Depth: Plant 2-3” deep

Water: Average moisture

Uses: Garden beds and cutting gardens

Tip: Read to see which of the two types of anemones here are the best fit for your part of the country

GUIDE: Anemone Planting Guide

They Start Out Looking Like This: