Is your shade garden looking a little lackluster? Do all the best blooms seem to require full sun? We’ve got great news for you: Japanese Anemones are perennials with unique-looking flowers that pack a punch, and the best news is they thrive in part shade to full shade.
With saturated yellow and green centers and wiry stems, the blooms almost look alien. Depending on variety, Japanese Anemones bloom in summer or fall. As a general rule, shorter varieties tend to bloom earlier than tall varieties.
Their foliage offers great contrast to their flowers. The beautiful, dark green, deeply divided foliage hovers over the ground on narrow stems. The leaves stay attractive all summer and are good for hiding dying foliage of spring ephemeral wildflowers, such as Virginia bluebells.
For a simple yet classic look, you’ll want to try Pretty Lady Diana, with her bright pink, single blooms. Take it up a notch with Pretty Lady Emily, which is the same rosy color but with 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 mid-fall.
For later blooms, try a larger variety, like Anemone ‘September Charm’, with single pink blooms on plants that get 30”-36” tall and about 24” across. Or try ‘Whirlwind’, which 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-draining. Although plants are quite drought tolerant, the leaf edges will turn brown if the soil dries out. A thin layer of organic mulch will help to hold moisture in the soil and increase their winter hardiness. Japanese Anemone are hardy in USDA Zones 4-8.
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.
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. If spreading is a concern, the shorter varieties also make excellent container plants.
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!