Late in summer, as other flowers start to fade, Japanese anemones come into their own. With their elegant sculpted flowers on long graceful stems and their bold maple-like leaves, they’re an unmissable presence in the border well into autumn. Happiest in partial shade, they’re ideal for brightening up dull spots in the garden, and once they’re settled they’ll spread and come back year after year. Here’s how to make sure your Japanese anemones grow and flourish.
Summer Stunners: Japanese anemone
Despite their common name, Japanese anemones are actually originally from China and were first brought to Europe by the legendary Scottish plant hunter Robert Fortune in 1844. The two forms you’re most likely to come across are Anemone hupehensisand a hybrid form Anemonex hybridawhich starts flowering slightly later. There are a whole host of gorgeous varieties of both forms, with single or double flowers in shades of pink or pristine white.
How to grow and care for Japanese anemones
Japanese anemones do best in semi-shade, in rich soil with lots of organic matter dug in to improve its structure. They’re very easy to care for – simply cut the old flower stems back to the base in autumn to keep the plants looking tidy, and remove any tatty-looking old leaves in spring once new leaves start to appear. They don’t like being dug up and transplanted, and also don’t respond well to being divided, so if you want to propagate them the best way is by taking root cuttings in spring.
Ironically, given that Japanese anemones can be difficult to establish and don’t like disruption, once they are settled in, they do have a tendency to spread and can even be rather invasive. To keep them under control, dig out any unwanted shoots as soon as they appear in spring, together with their roots.
Top 5 Japanese anemones
There are so many beautiful varieties of Japanese anemone available, it can be hard to choose between them, but these five are a good place to start.
- Anemonex hybrida‘Honorine Jobert’ AGM – tall and elegant, with pristine white flowers.
- Anemone hupehensis‘Hadspen Abundance’ AGM – a very free-flowering variety bearing semi-double rose-pink flowers with deep pink outer petals.
- Anemonex hybrida ‘September Charm’ AGM – compact, with striking purple-pink stems and rose-pink flowers.
- Anemone hupehensisvar. japonica‘Pamina’ AGM – another compact variety, with deep pink double flowers.
- Anemone‘Wild Swan’ – named Chelsea New Plant of the Year for 2011, it flowers from late spring through to autumn, with gorgeous white flowers, faintly purple-blue on the reverse. It doesn’t spread like other anemones but can be trickier to establish, growing best in rich fertile soil in dappled shade.
For late summer colour with very little effort, it’s hard to beat Japanese anemones. Why not pay a visit to our garden centre and choose the one that’s right for you?