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Updated: 10 Jun 2022

How to grow Japanese anemones and best varieties

Japanese anemones are great for brightening up late-summer borders. Discover our best varieties and tips for how to grow them.
Ceri Thomas
Japanese anemones

Keeping your garden blooming into autumn can be a challenge, but with Japanese anemones you can enjoy their indispensable, cottage-garden charms from late summer onwards. Once they get settled they’re easy to grow. Some might say too easy, as they can work their way along your borders with enthusiasm, popping up in unexpected places.

Which? Gardening magazine grew a range of popular varieties in the north and south of the UK over two years to see which would give us the best display and be hardy enough to get through UK winters.


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Key facts

PLANT TYPE Herbaceous perennial

POSITION Sun or shade 

SOIL Moist but well-drained

How to grow Japanese anemones: month by month

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune


DIVIDEDIVIDE

JulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
FLOWERINGFLOWERINGFLOWERINGFLOWERINGCUT BACK/ROOT CUTTINGS

Best Japanese anemone varieties

Which members can log in now to see the full results and which are our Best Buy varieties. If you're not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Full testing results for Japanese anemones

Variety nameOverall ratingHeight x spread (cm)Flower durationFlower impactAmount of flowersScentVigourPests & diseaseInsect attraction
75 x 65

80 x 100

45 x 70

45 x 50

105 x 90

100 x 80

65 x 90

USING THE TABLE OVERALL RATING The more stars the better. Rating ignores price and is based on: flower duration 20%; flower impact 20%; flower amount 20%; scent 10%; vigour 10%; pest and disease 10%; insect attraction 10% Height x spread taken in the second year of the trial. Vigour rating ★ ★★ ★ ★ = excellent health and vigour, and not particularly invasive; ★ ★★ ★ = excellent health and vigour, but slightly invasive; ★ ★★ = excellent health and vigour, but invasive; ★ ★ = reasonable health and vigour; ★ = poor health and vigour

How we test Japanese anemones

The Which? Gardening magazine researchers grew 17 varieties of Japanese anemone and included anemone ‘Wild Swan’, so we could see how it compared. We planted three of each variety at our Capel Manor trial garden in north London and at Logan Botanic Garden near Stranraer in Scotland. 

We grew the plants for two years and assessed them throughout for: flowering impact and number of flowers, how long they lasted and whether they had scent; how well the plants established and developed within two years and how invasive they were; their attractiveness to pollinating insects; and how susceptible they were to common problems. 

During the second year of the trial, the weather was very hot and dry, and the plants in the well-drained soil at Capel Manor needed extra watering on several occasions. No extra watering was needed in Scotland.

Caring for your plants

Planting

Try to buy plants when they’re in flower or from a reputable nursery or garden centre to make sure you get the variety you want. Choose your planting area carefully as once established, Japanese anemones can be hard to remove. Plant in a spot with some shade for best results and in soil that stays moist in summer, but is well-drained in winter. Add well-rotted garden compost when planting if your soil is poor

Watering

Keep plants well-watered in their first year, until they’re established, and even then you shouldn’t let the soil dry out too much.

Cutting back

Cut back all finished flower stems to ground level as soon as they fade to prevent them from setting seed. Cut back the whole plant in late autumn-late winter to make space for the new growth in spring.

Propagating

Plants can be divided in spring, or propagated by root cuttings in autumn.

Common growing problems

Spreading too far

Invasive varieties can be hard to keep in check, so promptly weed out any growth that appears where you don’t want it.

Slugs and snails

These can be a problem in spring, but rarely cause much damage once plants are growing strongly. If you want to, use organic slug pellets or biological control.

Read more about slugs and snails

Powdery mildew

This is common in dry soils, so keep them well-watered in dry spells. Mulching around your plants in spring with garden compost or spent mushroom compost will also help.

Read more about powdery mildew