Hot Plant! Japanese Anemones

by Anita Stamper

A number of species and hybrid cultivar comprise the genus of Anemones that bloom in late summer often through fall and are known collectively as Japanese anemones. These are not the tender bulbs that bloom so brilliantly in very early spring in warmer climates or in containers, but hardy perennials that bloom in sun or shade and return faithfully every year. They also have a tendency to spread into large clumps which make an impressive show in the garden. The color range is limited to white or some variant of pink, but in a season dominated by hot colors, their cooling influence is welcomed.

In my Western Kentucky garden, I have two pink cultivars growing in rather deep shade under a dogwood tree. They bloom beautifully and reliably, but not in abundance. I believe it is the difference in light rather than in cultivars. The white, semi-double 'Whirlwind' is in more than half-day sunlight and is covered with blooms. Both form buds early in the season, and these slowly swell, carrying their own gentle beauty, until they finally open. Blooms continue for me until frost.

I have read that in some gardens these are too aggressive, but all of mine have remained in their original clump, although the clump size has gradually increased. I enjoy them so much in both locations that I have purchased more whites for my sunnier garden and plan to add other pink cultivars to my cohabitation shade/sun garden where they will blend with my pink through red roses and the many blue through purple companion plants that grow there.

Quick Facts & Keys to Success

Common Name: Japanese Anemones
Botanical Name: Anemone japonica; A. x hybrida, Anemone hupehensis. Excellent white hybrids include 'Whirlwind' and 'Honorine Jobert'; pink hybrids include 'September Charm' and 'Queen Charlotte'.
Type: Perennial.
Size: Foliage mass rarely exceeds 10", but once buds form and open into blooms, the clump may approach 3'.
Exposure: Half-day sun to filtered shade
When to Plant: Early spring in cold climates, fall in warmer areas (my recommendation for nearly everything) but containerized plants can be planted nearly any time if protection from cold or regular watering in dry, hot times is provided.
Soil: Rich, moist soil with good drainage; does not tolerate standing water, especially in winter and blooms much better if watered in periods of extended dryness in summer.
Landscape Use: A single clump will grow into a nice specimen within a couple of years. Several make a decisive mass. The delicate pink varieties work best with similar shades and the entire range of blue through purple. Roses, blue/purple salvia, perennial asters, are excellent companions, with ajuga, heartleaves (Asarum, or wild gingers), dwarf liriope, and dwarf blue hosta forming an excellent ground cover in front of the blooming plants.

Anita Stamper is Director of Institutional Effectiveness and professor of family and consumer sciences at Lambuth University in Jackson, Tennessee and a resident of Lowertown in Paducah, Kentucky.


January Articles:

Vegetable Flowers
Hot Plant! Japanese Anemones
Blackberries & Raspberries Made Easy
Hot Plant! Lion's Ear / Lion's Tail