Anemone Growing Tips
Anemones are one of the toughest, most productive, sweetest, earliest-blooming, and long-lasting flowers that we grow on our farm in the Charlotte, NC area. This crop is a fantastic addition to even the smallest of cutting gardens. These beautiful blooms require a bit of knowledge and work to grow effectively, but the rewards are more than worth the effort.
Wholesale suppliers for flower farmers – Gloeckner, Onings. Typical minimums of 100-250 corms per color or type
Retail – Floret Flowers, Renfrow Farms, 10-20 corms/package
You can occasionally find them at big box stores, garden centers, or other online retailers, but these are often not the varieties best suited for cut flowers, in my opinion. The stems are shorter, and they usually are available only in a mix of colors. If you are planning to grow the blooms to sell, check out the wholesale suppliers I recommended.
Wholesale orders should be placed in the spring and summer for delivery in fall and winter. Shipping typically begins in September so that there is ample time to pre-sprout your crop (see below).
Jerusalem, Galilee, Meron, Carmel & Marianne series. Anemones come in a wide range of colors – blue/purple, pink, red, burgundy, white with green centers, white with dark centers (the popular “panda” type), and a few different bi-colors and pastel pink and purple shades.
Anemones grow from corms, these little things that look like acorns. Soak your corms for several hours in a full bucket of cool water to hydrate and plump them up, keeping the water dripping and water overflowing so that oxygen is continuously added. For optimal results, pack the corms in damp vermiculite and store at around 35 degrees F for several weeks (up to a month), checking periodically. When roots at least ¼” long emerge like in the photo below, they are ready to be planted. Toss any diseased or moldy corms.
Alternatively, try potting into small pots or cell packs and after cooling pull them out and let sprout in sunlight before transplanting, keeping well-watered. Keep in mind that dry weather is not optimal for setting out pre-sprouted anemones and ranunculuses. They could dry out before sprouting above ground and result in some crop losses.
If you are a hobby gardener without a flower cooler, try planting them in small pots or cell packs after soaking, keeping them moist, and storing in a shady and cool spot until you see them sprout. Then plant in the garden.
Planting & Growing
In warmer climates plant out in the fall – October & November. I also do another batch in December and/or early January. In colder, northern climates they won’t survive the winter so you will need to wait and plant out in mid-late winter. Water very heavily when first planted, or time planting them out before a very heavy rain.
While they depend on a consistent water supply to grow well, anemones also don’t like overwatering or wet feet so do not plant them in a low-lying spot with poor drainage. As for fertilization, backyard gardeners can use the same organic garden fertilizer they use on other flowers and vegetables (like the organic Espoma-brand Plant-Tone or Garden-Tone) at planting and once or twice during growing season. For farmers, your corm supplier should provide you with detailed fertilizer recommendations.
Anemones can successfully be grown in pots or raised beds. Regardless of where you plant them, space each corm approximately 9” apart. I space mine 12” apart between rows and 9” apart within the row, with four rows per 4’ wide bed. They can handle a variety of weeding methods, from landscape fabric or plastic, leaf mulch, or hand weeding.
Wintertime Protection (for southern growers)
High tunnel, low tunnels, row covers, oh my.
We had a VERY cold winter in NC this year, and I covered my plants with a heavy row cover for the coldest week or two but otherwise left them uncovered, and they still produced abundant, tall stems this spring. Protection through cold spells will enhance stem length and plant quality and bloom quantity, but I’ve found that they are remarkably resilient and that small-scale growers in my climate can be successful without the additional infrastructure of a tunnel with plastic.
The most extended vase life will come from flowers harvested when the bloom has grown to be about ¼” above the little “collar” leaf on the stem beneath it.
Harvest earlier and the blooms will be smaller, harvest later and the blooms will not last as long in the vase but will be larger and still potentially well-suited to use in short-term designs for weddings & other events. The stem length will be very short at the beginning of the season but then will stretch to 12-18” if you keep harvesting them.
Always practice good sanitation for extended vase life - sanitized clippers/shears, clean water, and changing the water every other day and give the stems a fresh cut. These conditions will typically provide at least a week of vase life.
Rainy and/or cold weather will cause splotches and browning on the petals (especially on white and pastel varieties) so prioritize harvesting before a storm or cold night if either are in the forecast and you need them!
Store upright to keep stems from bending. Blooms can be stored in a cold floral cooler for several days without impact on vase life.
Winter & early spring in South, spring in Northern Climates
My plants start blooming by late February (NC Zone 7B/8A), even earlier in a mild winter. They can begin blooming even earlier than that in unheated high tunnels or low tunnels, or in a heated greenhouse space. In regards to field-grown, minimally-protected anemones in zone 7b/8a, the season can often run from mid-late February through late April, with a bit of leeway on either end depending on how warm or cold our winter and spring temperatures are each year.
I focus almost exclusively on field-growing crops and have only dabbled in experimentation with low tunnels - a short, unheated greenhouse-type structure over one row of plants in the field that provides a few degrees of protection in the coldest temperatures. My family also owns and operates a 120-year-old “mom-and-pop” style hardware store (link to www.renfrowhardware.com) in historic downtown Matthews, NC and the biggest part of our business is gardening, which makes me prioritize being at our store most days in the late winter and spring. Because I am not up at our farm full-time, I tend to not utilize tunnels with greenhouse plastic because I am unable to continuously “vent” them on days when they heat up in the sunshine. Anemones do not like temperatures that climb above the mid-sixties and the temperature in a closed plastic covering structure can quickly surpass that on a cold but sunny day without proper ventilation.
If you are a casual backyard gardener or very new grower in a warm climate like mine, I recommend growing them for the first time with no more protection than an occasional row cover blanket during cold snaps (below around 28-30 degrees). Anemones are low-maintenance and more forgiving of occasional neglect than many other flowers - yet another reason I love them so much!
At the end of the season when the corms are about to go dormant, which is triggered by temperatures climbing in the 70s and above, I let my flowers fully bloom open for a few days without harvesting. I do this so that as I dig up the corms, I can be 100% certain about what color each corm is and sort any that got mixed up in planting or arrived mislabeled! I let them dry out for a few days in the heat before cutting off all the foliage, bagging them up in mesh bags by color/variety, and storing them in a well-ventilated corner of our air-conditioned design studio workshop. Check them periodically so that if you notice any mold or disease, you can toss infected corms before they affect others. Then, you can start the growing season all over again with pre-sprouting them in September/October.
Anemones may also be perennialized in the field if you have space to leave them, just don’t forget where they are and don’t let the weeds completely take over! Over-summered dormant anemones will begin to pop up in the fall. The foliage looks a bit like curly parsley.
I hope that this information gives you the confidence to add this gorgeous flower to your garden next season!