How to Grow Fall-blooming Japanese Anemones

Finding flowers to add some color to your yard at the end of the gardening season can be tricky. Learn how to grow Japanese Anemones that will provide beautiful blooms to your garden in the fall.

I love finding shade plants that bloom in the fall since my very shady garden always seems to need a little pick me up at that time of the year.

Japanese Anemones

One of the most under utilized fabulous fall bloomers for your garden is the Japanese anemone, also called anemone x hybrida or windflower.

Because it blooms in late summer through the fall, this plant makes an exciting change from the usual autumn chrysanthemums and asters.

Japanese Anemone at Prague Castle
Japanese Anemone at Prague Castle

When I visited Prague Castle last September, there was a beautiful pathway accented by a border of white and pink Japanese anemone flowers planted in monochromatic alternating 8 foot sections all in full bloom nodding delicately in the breeze — simply breathtaking and charming in its simplicity.

Which Anemones Are These?

Pink Japanese Anemones
Pink Japanese Anemones

Although there are over one hundred species of perennial anemones in the genus, some of which are ground hugging and bloom in the spring, in my garden I have had the most success with the taller, fall bloomers that have fibrous roots.  These are the anemone I am writing about here.  They are a hybrid cross between the Japanese Anemone hupchensis and the Himalayan A. vitifolia. 

The cultivars are characterized by star or cup shaped flowers in shades from white to mauve and dark pink. The flowers may be single, semi-double or double.

The dark green leaves have hairy undersides.  The plants form a robust clump that reaches about 5 feet in height.

White anemone 'Honorine Jobert'

Japanese Anemone ”Honorine Jobert”*

With a few exceptions, like white Anemone hup. Honorine Jobert*, the individual cultivars are often not named when you see them in plant nurseries.  Rather, they are all labelled “Japanese Anemone” or A. x hybrida.  It is a good idea to buy these plants in bloom so that you can be sure to get the colors and flower shape you want.

As an extra bonus, Japanese Anemones attract butterflies and are salt, deer and rabbit resistant. It’s hard to resist a perennial plant with so much going for it!

How and When To Plant Japanese Anemones

Japanese Anemones prefer part shade
Japanese Anemones prefer part shade

Zones: 4 – 7 (depending on the variety)

Sun: Part Shade To Sun

Size: Up to 5′ high and 4′ wide

Bloom Time: Fall

Japanese Anemones prefer to grow in part shade but will tolerate full sun. As with many plants, the further north you are in its growing range, the more sun they can take.

The amount of light also has an impact on how tall the Anemones grow. More shade generally produces taller plants (closer to 5′) where plants grown in more sun will be considerably shorter.

Japanese Anemone (windflower) - ©B. and E. Dudzinski - stock.adobe.com
Japanese Anemone (windflower) – ©B. and E. Dudzinski – stock.adobe.com

These perennials do tend to spread out every year via rhizomes and will eventually create a good-sized clump. You will need to chop off new shoots once they start getting big to keep them from taking over. Note: They spread much more slowly in the northern zones of their range, so if that’s where you live, you won’t have to worry about this much!

Planting Japanese Anemones in standard loamy garden soil that is not in a wet location will make sure they are happy. They do best if planted in the spring to give them time to settle in before their big fall show.

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how to grow fall-blooming Japanese Anemones

How To Care For Japanese Anemones

Japanese Anemones are low maintenance plants
Japanese Anemones are low maintenance plants

One of the best things about Japanese Anemone is that they are very low maintenance.

They like moist but well-drained soil, so make sure they are watered but not sitting in water. The more sun they get, the more moisture is required to keep them growing. In my garden, they are actually planted in fairly dry location and are doing quite well…so I think less is better than more when it comes to watering.

Other than the watering, I don’t do much with them. They do not even need to be dead-headed to keep blooming (although removing spent flowers does make the plants look a little neater).

If your plants are growing in the shade and have really tall stems, you may want to stake them loosely to prevent them from bending over in the wind.

Japanese Anemone Companion Plants

Japanese Anemones planted with evergreens
Japanese Anemones planted with evergreens

Because they are fall bloomers, the Japanese anemone are dormant in the spring.  For this reason they are perfect companion plants for spring bulbs like tulips and daffodils.  The bulbs can finish blooming and then the anemone foliage comes out to effectively hide the straggly bulb leaves.

I have my anemone planted beside the fern peonies, which bloom in early spring and go dormant in the summer.

Japanese Anemones as a border
Japanese Anemones as a border

These delicate looking flowers are tough and very showy in the late summer. When the other perennials are passed their prime, the Japanese anemone will help make the transition into fall by beautifully brightening the blah spaces in your garden.

Our Favorite Fall Anemone Varieties

Zones: 5 – 8

Anemone ‘Leather and Lace’* has pale pink flowers on a compact plant that grows to 16″ tall and doesn’t require any staking. It blooms from late summer through the fall.

Zones: 4 – 8

Japanese Anemone hup ‘September Charm’ has beautiful pink flowers with bright yellow centers and stems that grow to be 3′ to 4′ tall. It blooms from late summer to mid fall.

Zones: 5 – 8

Anemone ‘Fantasy Pocahontas’* has double flowers that are bubblegum pink with yellow centers. They bloom for months from mid summer to mid fall on stems that are 18″ tall.

Zones: 6 – 8

Anemone ‘Wild Swan’* starts out with light purple buds that open into white flowers with purple backs. Gorgeous! They grow to be 18″ tall and bloom all summer and fall.

Zones: 4 – 8

Japanese Anemone hup ‘Honorine Jobert’* produces beautiful white blooms with yellow stamens around chartreuse centers. It blooms prolifically in the late summer and early fall on stems that are 3′ to 4′ tall.

I hope I have inspired you to find a place to enjoy its regal loveliness.

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How To Grow Fall-Blooming Japanese Anemone

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