Anemone, aka “Windflower”

New England gardens are graced every autumn with the delicate, ever moving Japanese Anemones. They are rightly nicknamed “windflower” as their charming 5 petal blooms dance gracefully in the slightest breeze.

As temperatures and leaves both begin to fall here in Zone 5b, anemones can be counted on to keep the show going until first frost. Their “open” flowering habit is favored by pollinators. Bumblebees, especially, can’t seem to resist their wide landing pads as they buzz from one pollen laden bloom to the next. In fact, they employ “buzz pollination” techniques to help loosen the pollen from the plants’ tightly constructed anthers.

Listen closely to the loud buzzing throughout this video I filmed in September, 2018. And check out the impressive pollen packs on their haunches. I love it at about 1:13 when two are buzzing inside the same flower!

  • Plant type: perennial, native to China & Japan

  • Growing Conditions: sun to part shade; average moisture

  • Size: 1-5’ tall x 2-3’ wide depending upon variety

  • Spread: Volunteer plants may appear but can be easily removed or relocated to other areas of the garden.

  • Bloom: September to November in Zone 5b

  • Maintenance: minimal; staking may be beneficial for larger varieties

  • Biodiversity: loved by bumblebees

  • Pairings: allium, ornamental grasses, astilbe, ferns

  • Location: front of border for smaller varieties like ‘Pamina’; middle to back of mixed border for taller varieties like ‘Robustissima’ and ‘Honorine Jobert’

  • Pests: may develop powdery mildew with poor air circulation, although I have never had this problem in my garden.

  • Sourcing: available through The Big Little Garden

I have both short and tall, pink and white varieties, and love them all. Most are planted in part-sun (4-6 hours/day).

I frequently recommend the short pink ‘Pamina’ and ‘September Charm’ as a superior alternative to the mundane autumn mums that proliferate the big box stores and garden centers. I find the latter stiff and uninteresting, especially when compared to the ballerina grace of Japanese anemone!