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What is a Japanese Anemone?

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  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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A Japanese anemone is a perennial flowering plant that usually blooms in the late summer and fall with an abundance of colorful flowers. The scientific name is Anemone hupehensis , and contrary to its common name, the plant's area of origin is actually China. It does well in a temperate climate with a wide range of temperatures. The Japanese anemone is favored among gardeners because it adds color to gardens in the autumn when the majority of flowering plants are finished blooming. Once it is established, it is a relatively low maintenance plant.

Typically the Japanese anemone grows to a height of 24 to 48 inches (61 to 121 cm) when in bloom and can spread out to a width of about 23 to 35 inches (60 to 90 cm). The dark green leaves grow in a clump at the base of the plant. The leaves have deep notches and serrated edges. They are covered in soft fuzzy hairs. The flower stems rise up from the leafy base and branch out in many different directions.

The blossoms of the Japanese anemone are round with a shape like a tea saucer that gently curves upwards, and they lack true petals like most flowers. What most people would consider to be the flower's petals are actually colorful sepals, with colors ranging from white to various shades of pink. In the center of the blossom is a yellowish green button-shaped cluster of stigmas, surrounded by a ring of yellow, fluffy looking stamens.

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China rather than Japan is the native area of the Japanese anemone. The flower is also occasionally referred to as the Japanese windflower, perhaps because anemone comes from the Greek word for wind. The Japanese anemone does well in a temperate climate with a variety of weather conditions, with the exceptions of extreme heat and dryness and areas with excessively long frigid winters.

The Japanese anemone has a variety of uses in the garden including flower beds, borders, or containers, and many gardeners use them to add fall color. They are planted from seedlings and should be should be placed in a location with full sun to partial shade, in well drained soil rich in organic matter. They should be watered regularly, with the soil kept slightly moist, but require little other care once established. As a perennial, the Japanese anemone will usually come back year after year; some gardeners recommend a layer of mulch for added winter protection, and plants in containers should be brought indoors to survive winter.

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