Some garden anemones (Anemone spp.) are fibrous-rooted, fall- or spring-flowering perennials, but other spring-blooming varieties grow from bulblike tubers. Grecian windflower (Anemone blanda), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8, and poppy anemone (Anemone coronaria), hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10, bring tuber-fueled blossoms to gardens in early spring. Even though their growing zones differ, planting these tuberous anemones in fall prepares them for maximum blooms.
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Planning Your Planting
Grecian windflowers and poppy anemones, like most spring-blooming bulbs, grow best in sunny locations. No soil amendments are needed for well-drained, average soil; fertilizer is necessary only when a soil test shows it is. Both plants' blooms come early, before many trees unfurl their foliage. Sites that fall under dappled shade by summer work well for these anemones. Both of them need winter chilling periods to produce their most abundant blooms. Fall planting ensures a chilling period naturally. Plant Grecian windflower and poppy anemone at the same time you plant other spring-blooming bulbs or when soil temperatures at planting depth cools to 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. North of its hardiness zones, poppy anemone can be planted in very early spring, though late spring will bring poppylike blooms, smaller in size and number than those that result from fall planting.
Ending Their Nap
Before planting anemone tubers, soak them in water from two hours to overnight. Soaking wakes these tiny, odd-looking bulbs from dormancy and signals roots it's time to grow. The tubers root more quickly and grow more vigorously when soaked well before planting. Unlike other bulbs, anemones don't seem to have a clear side or end that should point upward. They are very forgiving about planting protocol; if you leave them the way they land in their planting holes, they should grow. Plant the tubers 2 to 3 inches deep and 3 to 6 inches apart. Anemones are effective when planted in a large group. Just after planting, water the area until it is evenly moist. Anemones' roots develop in fall, and spring brings sprouts and flowers.
Keeping Tubers Healthy
Water Grecian wildflowers and poppy anemones regularly so that soil stays evenly moist during their active growing season. Don't overwater them; they don't do well in soggy soil. When their blooming period ends, stop watering them. The tubers enter dormancy when temperatures rise. Leave the foliage in place for at least six weeks after blooming ends, until it yellows and dies back on its own so the leaves can continue to gather energy and replenish the tubers for next year's blooms. When fall comes and the soil cools, the roots begin to grow again. Water the tubers' soil lightly through fall. Poppy anemone sometimes sprouts in autumn, and freezes injure its shoots. The tubers may need to be replaced every few years if that happens.
Exploring Your Options
Poppy anemone can be easily forced to bloom indoors in winter. Known to some people as the florist's anemone, it excels as a cut flower, too. Both Grecian windflower and poppy anemone adapt easily to containers. Plant them in fall in containers with excellent bottom drainage holes, placing the tubers 2 to 3 inches deep in all-purpose, well-draining potting soil. Place them 3 to 6 inches apart or crowd the tubers if you like; just leave some room between them. Without the protection of garden soil, container anemones won't survive freezing temperatures. Move their pots into a cool, frost-free basement or garage for winter. Watch for signs of sprouts in spring, and then move the pots into sunlight and treat them as though they were in the garden.