11 Tips For Growing Anemones in Pots or Containers
Are you trying to grow anemones in pots or containers this season? These beautiful flowers make great container plants, but there are a few things you can do to ensure they have a longer lifespan. In this article, gardening expert and cut flower farmer Taylor Sievers shares her top tips for growing magnificent anemones in pots or containers!
Anemones, or Grecian windflowers, are adorable members of the family Ranunculaceae–the buttercup family. They are herbaceous perennials that grow from small tubers (nicknamed “corms”) or rhizomes, depending on the species. Anemones are commonly grown in flowerbeds, but also can make an excellent container flower!
The time to shine for anemones is in the Spring (except for Japanese anemones, which are perennial flowers that bloom in the Fall). There are three main species of anemones: Anemone coronaria, A. blanda, and A. x hybrida. Depending on the species, anemone flowers remind many people of either poppies or daisies.
Most anemones are low growing, and some can spread to form a thick groundcover in the landscaping, like Anemone blanda. Others will delight you with their intense colors in a patio pot, like A. coronaria. If you’re excited to try growing these charming flowers in a pot, check out these tips to get started!
- 1 Select Proven Varieties
- 2 Use A Container With Drainage
- 3 Add Broken Crocks or Rocks to Pots
- 4 Use a Well-Draining Potting Mix
- 5 Soak Your Corms Beforehand
- 6 Position Corms Correctly
- 7 Plant Shallow
- 8 Space Seedlings Appropriately
- 9 Keep Your Pot Sheltered
- 10 Deadhead to Promote New Blooms
- 11 Let Them Die Back Before Dormancy
- 12 Wrap-Up
Select Proven Varieties
There are several different varieties of anemones out there, but luckily the most popular ones that are available to gardeners are excellent for container gardening.
First off, you’ll want to plant varieties of the species Anemone coronaria. A. coronaria is often known as the common garden anemone for a reason. Other anemone species can be grown in pots, but they prefer to be planted in the ground.
Two popular mixes are the De Caen and the St. Brigid varieties, which come in various shades of color and also mixes. These are very old, proven varieties. St. Brigid varieties have more narrow daisy-like, layered petals. De Caen anemones have single or semi-double wide, rounded petals. You’ll find blooms of blue, white, pink, purple, and black and white in these mixes.
Use A Container With Drainage
Since anemones are a “bulb” crop, meaning they grow from a perennial underground structure, they can be prone to rotting if the soil is overly moist. A common problem with container gardening can be watering too much and using a pot without a drainage hole at the bottom.
Houseplants are often grown in ceramic pots with no drainage holes at the bottom. This happens because they are watered indoors, usually on a nice table or countertop. Naturally, a person wouldn’t want a big water mess ruining their furniture.
However, without a drainage hole at the bottom, you could accidentally overwater your pot. You may not know that the bottom half of your plant’s root zone is sitting in soggy conditions.
Waterlogged conditions cause loss of oxygen to the roots and ultimately root decay. You don’t want you anemone corms rotting away before you get to see those adorable little blooms!
Some plastic pots don’t have drainage holes, but they have spots that you can use a drill to make holes if you want. Make sure to drill holes before potting up your anemones if this is the case.
Add Broken Crocks or Rocks to Pots
Before adding potting mix to your pot, make sure to add a shallow layer of rock or broken crockery to the bottom to promote drainage. If you don’t know what broken crockery is, it’s any type of broken clay pot pieces you have lying around–don’t throw them away! They’re useful.
Water moves from areas of high resistance to low resistance naturally. It’s much easier for water to travel between the spaces of broken crock or rock than it is for it to move through the tight spaces between peat or compost mix in the top part of the pot. This promotes quick drainage so that your plants’ roots are not sitting in soggy soil.
Use a Well-Draining Potting Mix
Along the same lines as using a clay pot and adding rocks to the bottom of your pot, you’ll want to select a potting mix that is well-draining. Most potting mixes have inherently good drainage compared to natural soil because they’re usually peat-based.
Some mixes are coconut coir based. Both of these bases are naturally more fibrous, which allows for larger pore spaces for water to move freely through.
Sometimes gardeners will want to use 100% compost in their pots. While this may sound good, it might be wise to mix compost either with some finely chopped bark or a potting mix of your choice. Compost granules can break down and compress through multiple waterings, making the pore spaces smaller within the pot.
If you want to add compost, that’s okay. Just make sure to blend it with sand, peat, or coconut coir at a rate of 20 to 50% compost.
Soak Your Corms Beforehand
In the flower industry, anemone “bulbs” are actually called corms. While technically not a corm (they’re a tuber), the basic point is that they grow from an underground perennial storage organ. You’ll notice when you unpack your anemones that they are extremely hard and dry. They will need to be rehydrated in order to start growing.
You can plant them directly into the pot and water well if you’d like. But the best way to get them going is by soaking them prior to planting. Unpack all of the corms you want to plant and place them in a cup or tray of water for 4 to 12 hours (no longer than 12 hours).
After you have soaked them and potted them up into a moist potting mix, do not water them again until you see shoots poking through the soil. Make sure your potting mix is moist. Do not plant into extremely dry potting mix as the mix will “steal” moisture from your corms.
Position Corms Correctly
Anemone corms are strangely shaped organs, and it can be extremely hard to distinguish which way is up. Look closely at your corm, and you should notice a more flat side. This side is likely where the shoots will come from, so position this flatter side up.
You may be able to notice some small dots or “eyes” on the corm. These are the buds that will form shoots. Most of the time the “fingers” or nubs are the bottom or side of the corm.
If you are distressed about this tip, please don’t worry. If you mistakenly plant them incorrectly, most of the time the shoots will still grow up. It may just take longer for them to reach the soil surface.
Anemones should be planted only 2 inches deep for optimum growth. The top 2 inches of soil in pots can often dry out rather quickly, so keep this in mind as your anemones start to grow throughout the season.
Because you’ll be planting anemones in the cool temperatures of Spring, depending on where you live, for the most part moisture is not something you have to worry about as much as in the Summer.
Space Seedlings Appropriately
Plant your anemones about 2 inches apart within the pot. Try to keep them about 4 inches away from the edge of the pot. You want to make sure the corm has an ample amount of soil between the roots and edge of the pot to spread out.
Keep Your Pot Sheltered
When you first plant your anemones, it will likely be in about February or March (basically, late Winter to very early Spring). That means that you are likely still experiencing hard frosts, if not downright freezing temperatures.
For this reason, you’ll want to keep your pot in a sheltered spot in an area that has moderate temperatures between 40 and 50℉. Place your anemone pot somewhere like a cold garage or basement would be best right after planting.
Once the temperatures are above freezing consistently, you can set your pot outside permanently. For reference, anemones can handle a little bit of frost, as I have had some blooming in December outside here in the U.S. Midwest.
They did succumb to the frigid temperatures in January for me, however. It would be best practice to take the pot inside at night if you’re worried about freezing night temperatures.
If storing in a space with low light, like a basement, make sure that as soon as the shoots start to emerge you move the pot to a space with light, otherwise the shoots will be white and leggy.
Deadhead to Promote New Blooms
Once the anemones begin pushing out blooms, I promise you’ll be so delighted by these adorable little flowers. To keep your pots looking tidy and beautiful, it’s good practice to deadhead any faded blooms.
Once the flowers start to fade and drop petals, you can deadhead by cutting anemones at the base of the flower stem close to the soil line. Anemones will continue to bloom until the temperatures rise at the start of Summer.
Let Them Die Back Before Dormancy
As Summer approaches, you may notice the foliage of your anemones starting to yellow and die back. That’s okay. The warm temperatures are signaling your plant that it’s time to go into dormancy.
Most cut flower growers will treat anemones like annuals and grow new corms each year. However, if you want to save your corms for next year, you certainly can! Let the foliage die back naturally and then gently lift the corms for storage. You’ll want to trim off all the dead roots and leaves and wash them off. Some gardeners soak them in a 10% bleach solution.
Store the corms in a cool, dry, dark place until it’s time to plant them again! My second year anemones were more vigorous and produced double the amount of stems per plant, if not more.
Anemones are one of my favorite flowers as a cut flower grower. So much so that I have even grown them in pots in my landscaping in the last few years! As long as you follow the tips in this article, you should have success when it comes to potting up anemones for bright, beautiful Spring blooms. Try gifting a little pot of anemones to a friend once you get the hang of it–they really are a treasure!