"Winsome windflowers"

One of the stars of the early autumn garden is the Japanese windflower.
Sunday, 28 March 2021     

Anemone hupehensis Bowles Pink with Plectranthus ecklonii

One of the stars of the early autumn garden is surely the perennial plant known as the Japanese windflower (Anemone x hybrida). At the end of February, firm stems up to 1 m or more tall, holding clusters of plump buds, arise from basal clumps of grapevine-like leaves. These buds open in March and April to simple but beautiful cup-shaped flowers in shades of pale pink, darker pinks or white, with single or double rows of silken petals. The single white form is possibly the most graceful in its elegant simplicity as the flowers hover in the air high above the foliage like exotic moths, but all the windflower cultivars are lovely.

Originating in China, these perennials have been bred over the years to produce a wide range of named cultivars, although often they are sold in nurseries simply described by colour and form. 'Honorine Jobert' is the classic single white windflower; 'Whirlwind' is a semi-double flowered white version; 'Bowles Pink' is a beautiful single form with deep rosy pink petals edged in white; 'Margaret' is a deep pink semi-double type; and 'September Charm' has a pale pink single flower.

Japanese windflowers grow reasonably well in Sydney and their preference is for a part-shaded situation. They do appreciate a soil enriched with organic matter, and reasonable moisture in order to get established, but once they are ensconced, they can cope with drier conditions, and are in fact almost impossible to get rid of! They do have a tendency to spread, via a creeping rootstock, but they can be controlled with a shovel and should be sited in the first instance in a place where their encroaching habit is not going to smother small treasures or cause problems. Propagation is traditionally by root-cuttings, but small rooted runners can often be successfully potted up. Although Japanese windflowers are forgiving plants once established, they do respond gratefully to any organic mulch or fertiliser they are given, as well as an occasional good soaking. It is best to feed and mulch them in late winter before fresh growth begins to burgeon in spring.

A home in informal parts of the garden amongst small trees or shrubs is probably the best idea, and one excellent companion for them is the mop-headed Hydrangea. The windflowers can wander amongst these robust shrubs without causing any mischief, and their blooms mingle well with any late-blooming blue, pink or white Hydrangea flower heads as well as the ageing ones as they slowly metamorphose through strange greenish-pink, midnight-blue and murky purple colours on their way to senescence. The large leaves of the Hydrangea also provide a lush green backdrop against which the windflowers are well displayed

Windflowers also look appropriate roaming through lightly shaded spots with Camellia sasanqua, which are in full bloom at this time, in a similar range of colours to the windflowers, and with the same simple flower form. Some of the many beautiful autumn-flowering Plectranthus species and cultivars now available also combine wonderfully well with the windflowers. Although windflowers look fragile, I found they were quite resilient to the torrential rain that we received last week.

Blog originally posted on 24 March 2009; updated 28 March 2021.

 Reader Comments

1/9  Margaret - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Thursday, 02 April 2009

windflowers grow well for me - have the white, light pink and probably Bowles pink. Some of mine are in sun, the rest in part sun, nothing seems to stop them! Margaret

2/9  Margaret - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 29 March 2021

What a fantastic photo - congratulations! I still have my windflowers growing, and this year they are flowering better than ever. The combination with the purple/blue plectranthus looks magical. I have some white windflowers with purple plectranthus which also looks special. The single pink is growing in sun, very successfully. Thanks, Margaret! They do seem to go well with plectranthus. The white with the purple plectranthus sounds lovely. Deirdre

3/9  Sue t. - 2566 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 29 March 2021

Came home to find my pink windflower blooming happily while some other plants appear to be suffering from too much water. Think I'll get some more. Great! Hope all well. Deirdre

4/9  Bren - 2540 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 29 March 2021

When I moved to my place the garden was very overgrown and Windflowers were everywhere. I tried to get rid of them because they didnt fit my 'plan'. They were impossible to eliminate! But my attitude has changed. Now, reduction of labour has become an important priority in my garden, so I changed my plan; the windflowers are thriving and It seems silly that I even tried to weed them out! Yes, I agree! They make quite a good weed-proof mat. Deirdre

5/9  Kerrie - 2104 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 29 March 2021

Have them, Boyle's Pink, love them! That is one of my favourites. Deirdre

6/9  Hanni - 2134 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 29 March 2021

I too like them, although they are invasive. But this year I found a lot of them with brown shrivelled leaves and limp flower buds. Thats probably because of the torrential rain we got in the last weeks. It looks like mildew on the stems. I cut all the affected plants off and hope that the others will be alright. I have occasionally had the odd stem go limp and I think it is some sort of fungus that happens at times of lots of rain and high humidity. I suggest the use of Eco-fungicide as a control. Deirdre

7/9  Rosemary - 3472 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 29 March 2021

I gave some windflowers to my daughter in Warrnambool. She is very pleased with them. Too hot and dry at my place with only tank water. This year being cooler and wetter they may have done ok. Please - would it be alright to cut back sedum matrona now, as they are very leggy, and fallen over. Usually cut back in winter. Thanks for all your information, Rosemary Thanks,, Rosemary. Yes I think fine to cut those sedums back now. Deirdre

8/9  Paula - 4209 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Tuesday, 30 March 2021

That's a stunning photo Deirdre. I adore windflowers but here on the Northern Gold Coast in quite dense shade I only have green leaves and no flowers. Perhaps I should try some in a pot... Maybe it is a bit too warm for them there but you could try them in a pot. Deirdre

9/9  Pamela - 2158 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Sunday, 04 April 2021

What a beautiful combination Deirdre. I love the Japanese anenomes but strangely theyve been hard to get going in my garden in Dural and Ive tried a few spots! Just planted 8 of the white ones from Lambleys into a new partly shaded area well composted so fingers crossed!! They took over in my previous garden!!! Great to hear from you, Pamela. It is strange how the windflowers don't always take off in some gardens yet go berserk in others. Even in my own suburb there is variation in how well they do, I've discovered after talking to some friends on the subject over the past week! Hope your new ones settle in! Deirdre

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