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Autumn is ripe for planting anemones

“Anemone, your gorgeous colors seem to beckon me...”

Autumn begins Tuesday, although I celebrated the end of summer with the closing of the festivals and the reopening of our schools this month. Catharine and I will gladly mark the end of a summer that began coolly, and then morphed into hot and overcast. I welcome the season considered the second spring.

One of fall’s pleasures is watching nurseries fill their shelves with bulbs. Many have set out displays of paper white narcissus, and it’s not too early to purchase others, particularly the anemone.

Anemone fulgens is the most popular of the genera, and the origin of most of our present day hybrids. Anemone tubers grown in California have a flattish top and a cone-shaped bottom, while tubers from Europe look more like dried raisins. Commonly called poppy-flower anemone or peony flowering anemone, these bulbs are available as single and double flowers. Larger bulbs will produce larger flowers.

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Grown in Santa Maria, Tecolote anemones have the reputation of being one of the finest strains in the world. The best time to plant in Laguna is from September through January. Plant the tubers 6 to 8 inches apart and covered with ½ inch to 1 inch of soil. The tubers are planted with the fingers or point down. Unlike the European strains, the tubers should not be soaked prior to planting. After planting, the soil should be thoroughly saturated, so it will contain enough moisture to sprout the tubers. Water sparingly until sprouts show, then watering can be increased.

All anemones enjoy rich, loamy soil and partial shade at midday to keep them growing vigorously. Plants begin flowering early and display a continuous succession of bloom for many weeks. Anemones should be fertilized with bulb food every three weeks after the first true leaves appear and the soil kept evenly moist.

If desired, the tubers can be taken up, well dried, and kept in storage for replanting in September. Aphids, leaf miners and rust sometimes attack anemones. Rather than spraying pesticides, it is wiser to remove infested plants.

Although it’s never wise to try to predict the weather, I believe that the upcoming weeks will be a great time to prepare your garden. Our reward will be opulence of bloom, richness of color and a welcomed escape from the heat of the almost forgotten summer. See you next time.

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STEVE KAWARATANI is happily married to award-winning writer Catharine Cooper, and has four dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497-8168, or e-mail to plantman2@mac.com.


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