A few years back, we decided to try our hands at growing Anemone coronaria, also known as the poppy anemone or Grecian windflower.
Anemones are native to the Mediterranean. They like cooler Spring temperatures but also don’t like too many hard freezes, which is why they’re not grown widely here in the Midwest as a garden plant.
Anemones grow from bulb-like structures called tubers (in the cut flower industry they are called “corms”, but technically they are a tuber). Think of potatoes when you think of tubers. They’re basically a fleshy underground storage organ with “eyes” (a.k.a. buds).
How I Grow Anemones for Cut Flowers
I order anemone corms (I’ll refer to them as corms from here on out) in the Summer. They usually arrive in mid to late Fall. I keep them stored in a cool, dry, dark place until I’m ready to plant them.
In about late January or early February, I “presprout” my anemones. This essentially means I soak them for up to 12 hours in water, and then I plant them in a moist peat mix. Soaking them will allow the corms to soften and swell. When you get them they’ll be hard and wrinkly.
The presprouted anemones stay in the dark like this until I see the shoots starting to emerge from the peat or until I’m ready to plant and they’ve got decent root growth.
Don’t think they’re not doing anything while they’re in the dark! They’re growing a plethora of roots, which is exactly what I want. I want the roots to grow strong and healthy so that when I plant them outside, the anemones are ready to grow, grow, grow.
If any of the corms are molding or have very poor root growth, they are pitched. I’m not going to waste my time and space for a sad little plant that will likely not produce for me.
When I Plant Anemones Outside
I usually plant my anemones outside under protection in late February or early March. I have large high tunnels now (unheated plastic greenhouses, essentially), but when I first grew them I only had a low tunnel covered in plastic for protection.
A low tunnel is made by stretching plastic or some sort of frost cover over short hoops. I made my hoops using a hoop bender from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and electrical conduit. The hoops are pushed over rebar stakes that are hammered into the ground.
I use rocks or sandbags to secure the plastic on the sides and the ends.
Some people call these low tunnels “caterpillar tunnels”.
On bitterly cold nights I may cover my anemones with frost cloth, but that’s not always the case. It honestly may not be necessary in warmer climates than mine (I’m in 6a, just north of St. Louis along the Mississippi River).
I have anemones I planted in Spring 2019 (I’m writing this in 2023) that have survived outside with no protection each year. Not all of the plants survived, but a few did, which is why I say they likely need a little bit of protection. However, the ones that survived actually bloomed in December for me in 2020!
Growing Anemones in Pots
This year I decided to pot up some anemones so my customers could enjoy them in a pot. Instead of presprouting them in late January and early February, I started them about a month and a half later (mid March).
Once they had good root growth, I planted them straight into 10 inch pots with 4 to 5 corms per pot.
Honestly, I think I could have planted them straight into the pot, but I didn’t have my pots ready.
By mid April the anemone pots were lush! I just saw the first blooms starting to poke up through the soil a few days ago (we are now in late April as I type this). Now they’re off to be sold!
We created a printable PDF for you to download and save. It’s basically a summary of the content below on how to care for anemones in pots. Enjoy!
How to Care for Anemones in Pots
Once your anemones are growing strong in the pot, you’ll notice the blooms starting to come up from the base of the plant.
Simply enjoy the blooms in the pot or you can cut them and put them in a vase.
Harvesting Anemones for Cut Flowers
To harvest anemones as cut flowers, you need to cut right where the stem meets the soil line.
Anemones bloom on short stems at first, but as they continue to bloom, their flower stems will get longer. That’s why when I’m planting them as cut flowers, oftentimes the first blooms are just for me to enjoy in a bud vase on my table. The later stems are ones I sell.
Some anemones have been bred for cut flower purposes, so they naturally have longer stems. The ‘De Caen’ mix that I’ve planted in pots are not naturally as tall, but they should get tall enough for a pint jar arrangement eventually.
You want to make sure the leaf collar just below the bloom is about ¼ inch below the bloom before you harvest. If the collar is still held tightly to the bloom, then it is too early to cut.
You’ll notice that anemones close their blooms up at night and then open them in the morning. I like to cut them when I can tell they’ve opened up at least once because the bloom is not so tight.
Anemones will last at least a week in a vase, if not more. Put them in the fridge at night to prolong vase life. Change the water every few days and give the stems a fresh trim to promote water uptake by the stems.
Enjoying Anemones in a Pot
If you want to leave the blooms in the pot, simply deadhead them when they start to fade!
To deadhead your anemones, cut at the base of the stem where it meets the soil line, just like you would if you were harvesting them as a cut flower. You should see new blooms emerging as the other ones die back.
Once your anemones are done blooming in early Summer, you want to let the foliage die back naturally. Don’t let the plant dry out, but also don’t water as much either when you notice the foliage dying back. You don’t want your corms to rot.
Once the foliage dies back, I would advise putting the pot in a sheltered space away from the beating Summer heat. A shady spot outside should be just fine. By keeping the pot outside it will naturally be watered by rainfall so you won’t have to worry about it drying out. If it’s under a covered porch, just water it every so often, but honestly less is more.
Take the pot inside for the Winter. You could set it under lights if you wanted, but I think it’s best to just let it sit in a dark spot in the garage or basement until late Winter. Check on it every now and then to make sure it’s not starting to push out leaves. If it’s pushing out shoots, get that plant into some light soon!
Take the pot outside in about late February and give it a good soaking. If it’s going to be a hard freeze, just make sure the pot is protected or you can take it back inside for the night. Otherwise you can leave it outside and let it grow!
Anemones can handle some light freezing, so don’t worry too much about them. If they’ve had a lot of growth while inside, just make sure to harden them off so they get used to the temperatures and the climate outside. Take them out for a little bit each day, gradually giving them more and more sunlight.
You should have even more blooms the second year if you’re successful holding them over! You may consider either repotting into a bigger pot or digging up the corms to divide them after the second year dieback.
Anemones from Sievers Blumen Farm
Did you know we have anemones available each Spring?
Anemones start blooming for us in late April and continue through May. We usually have small anemone arrangements or use our anemones in bouquets and mixed Spring arrangements.
For 2023, we added anemone pots to our lineup.
If we have interest we may stock up on corms to sell in the Fall.
The best way to know about what we have at the farm is to follow us on social media (@sieversblumenfarm) and sign up for our email list. Please sign up below!
Happy growing, my friends!