‘Windflowers, their beauty captures every young dreamer ...’
I MUST confess that I was inspired to write this week’s column topic after I came across the 1970s Seals and Crofts song ‘Windflowers’ on a list of karaoke selections recently.
Thanks to this song, I decided to look further into the mystery of such flowers. The lyrics of the song actually give some indication about the unique characteristics of windflowers. Background
This is a group of perennials with colourful poppy-like flowers that flutter in the breeze – that is why they are called windflowers.
There are several distinct forms of windflowers. The anemone flowers originated from mild temperate regions in the Mediterranean. These flowers form corms or bulbs that are used for new planting beds or plantings in pots.
A common species in the west is Anemone blanda, which is also known as winter windflower and sapphire anemone. These lowgrowing plants have fine textured foliage that pair well with the pink, white or blue daisy-like flowers.
Anemone is a member of the family Ranunculaceae, which includes low-growing tuberous plants and tall herbaceous specimens. The flowers are solitary or borne in round clusters with a prominent central mass of stamens.
These flowers are saucershaped in shades of red, white, pastel blue and buttery yellow. There are several other species or varieties, as well as newer hybrids available.
These include the various hybrids of Japanese anemones. These Japanese windflowers are herbaceous perennials and a member of the buttercup family. They remain dormant in cold seasons and come alive anew in the springtime. These are lovely versatile plants that can be planted as garden borders or in garden beds.
Other varieties are the Anemone coronaria, which is also called poppy anemone and Spanish marigold. These flowers need cooler temperatures, so locally they would only be suitable for the highlands or in climate controlled growing areas. Planting tips Anemones are easy to handle for planting. To begin with select the bulbs. This is a tiny tuber, but choosing the bigger and fatter ones would be best best.
This is because larger bulbs will end up producing bigger flowers. If you’re buying bulbs that are already in a few inches deep of sand, water to keep them moist.
Around 10 days later, the roots and leaves should have sprouted so they are ready for planting. In cases where you only have the corms, first soak the corms in water for around 10 hours before planting. This will make it easier for them to sprout. You should air them out before planting.
Next prepare the planting medium by loosening the soil. Alternatively, you can use a coarse growing mix for pot planting. Anemones need welldrained soil and can tolerate drought conditions. To prepare the growing beds for planting, add a general dose of compost about three inches deep with basal dressing of organic fertiliser.
Now plant the bulbs in the soil prepared with some leaf mould and compost. Lay them just below the surface without worrying about the direction of the shoots or roots, as they will find the gravitational pull and automatically grow towards the sun.
Be sure to give them enough room – around three inches apart and three inches deep should do. Cover them with soil and water sparingly. Remember these corms are hardy and dry. Mulching is good for the medium to retain moisture.
Vegetative growth occurs soon after and you should add a mild liquid fertiliser when buds are form. It will take about 12 weeks to flower and should continue to do so over a period of one month. When planting in the right situation, each corm can produce 10 to 15 flowers at a time. Remember the tuber underground can be saved for new plantings.
Plant care does vary dramatically among the various species. The common pests are caterpillars, slugs, and flea beetles. Diseases include downy mildew, stem smut and rust, besides leaf gall formation by larvae on the leaves.
There are around 10 varieties of anemone flowering bulbs that are suitable for warm climates such as ours.
Do send me an email if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions. Happy gardening.
Sapphire anemone has blue daisy-like flowers.
Japanese anemones are a member of the buttercup family.