Thursday, July 9, 2009

Anemones: Born Of The Wind

"Anemone" translated from Greek, means "wind", for it was believed that spring winds caused them to bloom. They are native to the Mediterranean region where winters are warm and summers are dry. There they have a rich heritage in legend and history. Three species are widely available: A. blanda, A. coronaria and A. sylvestris.

Anemone blanda is known as Grecian Wind Flower. The name evokes scenes of ancient temples, and rocky hills swept by Mediterranean breezes. Certainly, the scene gives a clue to its preferred habitat. A. blanda is reliably hardy in USDA climate zones 6 through 8. Full sun to partial shade is best; morning sun to light shade throughout the day in southern regions. Well-drained soil is essential. The plant naturalizes readily to spread a spring-time carpet of light blue, pink or white daisy-like flowers on 6" to 8" stems. The fern-like foliage is also quite attractive. In addition to naturalizing, Anemone blanda is desirable for bulb and rock gardens, perennial borders, container and patio gardens.

Anemone coronaria is known as Poppy Anemone or Florist's Anemone. The flower shape and size is very much like that of a poppy. There are two groups of Poppy Anemone widely available: De Caen and St. Brigid. De Caen anemones produce flowers in bright shades of red, white, blue and pink. St. Brigid anemones produce double-petal flowers in the same shades. A. coronaria is not as cold-tolerant as A. blanda, being reliably hardy in USDA climate zones 8 through 10. However, it tolerates heat much better. Sun exposure and soil moisture requirements for A. coronaria are the same as for A. blanda. These are excellent for bulb and cutting gardens, perennial borders, container and patio gardens

Though anemones prefer warm climates, they can be enjoyed by gardeners in cooler regions. Planting season for southern gardeners is in the fall. Planting season for northern gardeners is in the spring. Logically, they are commercially available both times of year.

When you receive them, the tubers will be shriveled and dry. That is normal. Simply soak them over-night in water at room temperature before planting.

As noted, the planting site should be well-drained and in full sun to partial shade.

Plant the tubers 6" to 10" apart and 1" to 3" deep, depending upon the size. Sometimes it's difficult to tell which side is up. Don't worry about it, they will re-orient themselves.

Water thoroughly but gently, taking care not to wash the bulbs to the surface. If planted in the fall, the roots will develop throughout the cool months and flowers will appear in spring. If planted in the spring, the flowers will appear.

Water as needed to maintain slightly moist soil during spring and fall. Anemones are drought-tolerant during summer.

Flowering lasts about four weeks. When blooming is completed, let the foliage remain to build food reserves for next year. Foliage may be removed when it yellows and dies back at the end of summer. Take care to leave the bulbs undisturbed. After a few months of dormancy, they will begin another growth cycle.

If you are one of those who tries to stretch the limits of where a plant might be grown successfully, know that Anemone coronaria (De Caen and St. Brigid) benefit from a covering of mulch in USDA climate zones 7 & 8. Anemone blanda benefit from a covering of mulch in USDA climate zones 3 & 4. If you don't want to risk losing them during your cold winters, lift them after the foliage has fallen, then dry and store them over winter.

As mentioned before, anemones do well in pots and patio gardens. Choose containers with adequate drainage. To improve drainage, place 1" or 2" of styrofoam packing "popcorn" in the bottom of the container. Fill the container with good quality potting soil. Position containers where they will receive full sun to partial shade.

Plant the tubers 2" to 3" apart. Again, it is not necessary to consider which side is supposed to be up. After planting, water well, thoroughly and gently soaking the soil.

When blooming is completed, let the foliage remain to build food reserves. Leaves may be removed when dried at the end of summer. Take care to leave the bulbs undisturbed in the pots. After a few months of dormancy, they will begin another growth cycle.

If the containers are kept in an area where cold weather is excessive (USDA climate zones 7 & 8 for A. coronaria, or zones 3 & 4 for A. blanda), they should be moved to where they can be protected.

Anemone sylvestris, also known as Snowdrop Anemone, is a low-growing, low maintenance perennial that you'll love. It produces fragrant, bright white blooms with yellow centers from spring to early summer. Flowers may appear again in fall. Mature height is 12 inches to 18 inches. Dense, herbaceous, fern-like foliage makes a fine ground cover perfect for covering yellowing foliage of spring bulbs. Anemone sylvestris is considered to be an heirloom plant, known to have been grown in the U.S. since the 1700s.

Anemone sylvestris prefers average, well-drained soil with pH from 4.6 to 6.0 in full sun to partial shade. Dead-heading helps to prolong bloom season. Good for USDA climate zones 2 to 9. Space 12 inches to 18 inches apart.

If you've never grown anemones before, you should do so. Their beauty and historic legacy will lend color and interest to your gardening experience.

Return to Anemone blanda and Anemone coronaria at goGardenNow.com.
Return to Anemone sylvestris at goGardenNow.com.


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