Looking for late summer or early fall color for your shade or semi-shaded garden?
Why not try perennial Japanese Anemone? Depending on the variety, they will bloom in middle to late summer or early to midfall. Shorter cultivars tend to bloom earlier than the taller cultivars.
All of them have pretty, dark green, deeply divided foliage that arises from the soil on narrow stems. Upright, wiry-but-graceful, branching flower stems rise above the foliage clump. The leaves stay attractive all summer and are good for hiding dying foliage of spring ephemeral wildflowers, such as Virginia bluebells. The plants can make a nice groundcover, particularly the shorter varieties.
If you prefer something simpler, try Pretty LadyTM ‘Diana’ with bright pink single blooms or Pretty LadyTM ‘Emily’ with pink double blooms. Plants in the Pretty LadyTM series usually get around 16” tall and 24” across. This series starts flowering in August and continues to middle fall.
For later blooms, try one or more of the larger cultivars that typically start flowering in early fall. They form much larger clumps and their flowers are held high above the foliage. Anemone ‘September Charm’ has single pink blooms on plants that get 30”-36” tall and about 24” across. ‘Whirlwind’ has lush, double, 2”-3” white blooms that appear in great profusion in September and October. The plants typically get 36” tall by 36” wide.
Probably the most popular of the Japanese Anemone is ‘Honorine Jobert’ with its pristine, single white blooms on 36”-48” plants. ‘Honorine Jobert’ is an heirloom variety that was discovered in France in 1858. Her exquisite blooms are 2”-3” across and are produced in large quantities – plenty for cutting. ‘Honorine Jobert’ was named the Perennial Plant Association’s 2016 Perennial Plant of the Year.
Japanese Anemone prefer partial to full shade and humus-rich, consistently moist soil that is well-drained. Although plants are quite drought tolerant, the leaf edges will turn brown if the soil dries out. Morning sun with shade from midday on is ideal in southern gardens, while plants grown in the north are happy in mostly sun with a little shade during the hottest part of the day. A thin layer of organic mulch will help to hold moisture in the soil and increase their winter hardiness. The shorter cultivars are suitable for containers, while taller varieties may benefit from some support in midsummer. Japanese Anemone are hardy in USDA Zones 4-8.
All the Japanese Anemone tend to spread via rhizomes and can eventually form large stands if not contained. The shorter varieties tend to spread more slowly than the taller ones. Frequent division will help to control their spread. Japanese Anemone are both deer and rabbit resistant. There are pests that may attack Anemone, including aphids, black blister beetles, Japanese beetles, foliar and root knot nematodes and western thrips as well as fungal diseases. Blister Beetles can rapidly strip plants of foliage and plants will not likely recover until spring. Most of the time these plants are trouble free.
On an interesting note, although they are typically called Japanese Anemone, they originate in China. They are also commonly called Windflowers for the way the wiry stems allow them to sway in the breeze. Another common name is Japanese thimbleweed because the seed heads resemble thimbles. Japanese anemones are known by the botanical names of Anemone hupehensis, Anemone hupehensis var. japonica, or Anemone x hybrida. Whichever you prefer, an Anemone by any name is lovely to behold!