Anemones are one of the best ‘bang-for-your-buck’ bulbs

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Anemone Double Mixed Picture courtesy www.hadeco.co.zaAnemone Double Mixed Picture courtesy www.hadeco.co.zaAnemones are one of the most eye-catching and productive winter and spring bloomers, and have always been a favourite with gardeners because they are easy-to-grow, and bloom abundantly just 3 months after planting out.

The pretty blooms are available in single or double forms.

 

Because they are excellent cut flowers are always a favourite with floral designers and brides.

Modern cultivars have very large flowers, with diameters of 8 to 10 cm, and come in a wide range of bright and pastel colours, as well as two toned varieties. The lovely contrasting centres are usually black, but may be pale green in white flowered varieties.

Anemones are low growing plants, but the flowering stems may grow as tall as 40 to 50cm, making them perfect to brighten up spring borders and pathways, and they are also lovely in containers. Flowering times vary according to when they were planted, and by staggering planting from early autumn to early winter, you can have blooms continuously for months on end through winter and spring.

Anemone coronaria grows wild around the Eastern Mediterranean, from Greece, Albania, southern Turkey and Syria to Israel, with sporadic extension east to northern Iraq, and west along the Mediterranean shores of Italy, southern France, and North Africa.  In the wild it flowers in winter and spring, and is cross pollinated by bees, flies and beetles, which can carry pollen over long distances. It is especially abundant in Syria and Palestine, and the vast carpets of red anemones have become a major tourist attraction of the northern Negev region of Israel.

Anemone Single Picture courtesy www.hadeco.co.zaAnemone Single Picture courtesy www.hadeco.co.zaAnemone coronaria was introduced into England prior to 1596, being described in Thomas Johnson's edition of John Gerard's Herball, first published in 1597, and was popular during the time of Queen Elizabeth I. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, breeders in France and Italy had already considerably improved the range of colours available, and today Anemone coronaria has numerous named cultivars, including two which remain the most popular: the De Caen (single) and St Brigid (semi-double and double) groups of cultivars.

The De Caen group, sometimes known as French Anemone, were cultivated in the French districts of Caen and Bayeux as far back as the 18th century, and ‘De Caen Mix’ is a blend of single Anemones in gorgeous shades of white, pink, red and blue. Originating in Ireland, the St. Brigid cultivars are named after their saint Brigid,  and are commonly called “poppy anemones” because they closely resemble the true poppy (Papaveroideae). 'St Brigid Mix’ delivers double, slightly-ruffled blooms in a rainbow of colours.

Many wonderful cultivars of anemone are available online, but in South Africa they are usually sold in packets of either single or double varieties, in a great range of colours.

 In the Garden & Home:

Anemones are one of the best ‘bang-for-your-buck’ bulbs and one of the easiest ways to add colour and beauty to your winter and spring garden. They create colourful groundcovers and borders in sun to partially shaded areas of the garden, and for the best effect, plant in large drifts and intersperse them with spring-flowering annuals such as pansies and primulas.

Anemones are great as cut flowers, however, unlike Ranunculus, it’s recommended to let the flowers open and close for a couple of nights before picking them to prolong their vase life, and the more you pick them, the more they bloom.

Cultivation:

Because Anemones normally start to flower about 3 months after planting, by staggering planting from early autumn to early winter, you can have blooms continuously for months on end. Although they are usually available in South Africa from March, anemones are only planted out once the soil temperatures have cooled down considerably. In cool regions, for very early winter flowers, planting can begin in March, but for most regions anemones are traditionally planted in mid-April, with staggered plantings to the end of May ensuring that the blooming season extends well into spring, or until the weather gets too hot.

Anemones are hardy to frost, tolerating temperatures as low as -6°C, and although they need sun to flower well, it is recommended that they are shaded during the hottest part of the day, and full morning sun works perfectly. They grow in fertile, well drained garden soils, and the planting beds need to be thoroughly dug over to a spades depth, and some extra compost never hurts.

Do not add fertilisers and avoid using fresh manure at this stage as these may burn the bulbs. Rather feed later with a specialist fertiliser for bulbs. Hadeco bulb food is specially formulated by leading Dutch flower bulb growers, with slow release nitrogen and essential nutrients it promotes the development of strong roots for vigorous growth and abundant flowers. Its composition also makes it an ideal food for all blooming plants, including annuals and perennials, so treat your bulbs to the right stuff this season, it’s worth it!

For pots, use a good quality potting soil and in the summer rainfall regions, add water-retaining granules to help the soil retain moisture during the dry winter months. Feed throughout the growing season as for plants growing in garden beds.

When you unpack your anemone corms you'll notice they resemble shrivelled brown acorns, and probably not what you were expecting, but don’t panic, each one of these strange little critters will produce an abundance of blooms! Before planting, soak the corms for a couple of hours in a bowl filled with water at room-temperature. As the corms soak, they will plump up, often doubling in size, and at this stage they can be planted directly into well prepared garden beds.

Although many experts recommend that the corms be planted with the pointy end down, if you can’t always be sure which end it is, it really doesn’t matter, however they are positioned, they will naturally figure out which way is up. If you are planting into containers the corms can be planted closer together, and remember that pots dry out quicker, so water regularly and feed as for those growing in the ground.

Different bulbs need to be planted at different depths and spaced accordingly, so read the planting instructions on the pack carefully. Usually, bulbs should be planted at a depth of three times the actual height of the bulb. Space anemones +-15cm apart and plant the corms +-3cm deep. Water the beds thoroughly after planting, and every four to five days thereafter. It is vital that bulbs do not dry out completely. However, on the other extreme, too much water may cause the bulbs to rot.  

At the end of the growing season, if you take good care of the corms, they can be lifted and stored for next season. Once blooming has finished for the season the leaves will slowly start to yellow and die back, and as summer approaches the anemone slips into its dormancy period. Leave the foliage alone - don't cut it off, as the leaves will continue to collect sunlight and provide nourishment to the corms for next year's display. Continue feeding and watering as necessary until all the leaves have died down completely. You can now gently lift the corms. Spread them on newspaper in a shady place to dry out, before gently rubbing the worst of the soil off, and storing them in paper bags in a cool and dry place over summer.

If you prefer, you can leave the bulbs in the soil and they should come back up to flower again next spring. Sometimes Anemones won’t do as well in subsequent seasons, so if you notice their performance diminishing, purchase new corms to plant.

Propagation

To propagate Anemone, the seed is recommended to be sown fresh in summer. Put the seeds in a fine sandy loam, keep them moist and protect them from the hot summer sun. Flowering will begin the next spring.

Problems, Pests & Diseases:

Anemones are not usually subject to any pests or diseases, except powdery mildew. Watering them in the morning will help to prevent this.

Warning:

All parts of anemones are toxic to cats, dogs, animals, and humans, if eaten in large quantities. The plant is poisonous through ingestion and dermatitis. Symptoms may include: Inflammation and blistering upon contact with fresh sap; irritation of the mouth, vomiting and diarrhoea following ingestion. It can also cause tremors and even seizures.

Poison Toxic Principle: Protoanemonin