Windflower Care

Growing Windflowers

Windflowers are a colorful group of poppy-like flowers known for their delicate petals dancing in the breeze. Gardeners can grow both spring and fall flowering varieties of nearly every color in hardiness zones 4 through 8. Originating in Greece, Anemone blanda or commonly Anemone are named after the Greek word for wind (anemos). Windflowers are a part of the buttercup family known as Ranunculaceae and grow 6 inches to 4 feet tall from a tuberous rhizome called a corm. Windflowers prefer ordinary to well-drained soil with partial to full sun depending on climate.          

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Planting Windflowers

Windflowers grow from corms/root clumps that must be soaked in water to rehydrate prior to planting. Windflowers prefer cooler temperatures, so in cooler climates full sun will be preferred, whereas in warmer climates, partial shade may provide better conditions. However, the diversity of needs within the windflower family can vary, so always check your specific variety before selecting a planting site. 

Windflowers prefer even moisture, but will suffer from rot if waterlogged. Therefore it is important to amend the soil prior to planting. First loosen the soil, then add organic matter/leaf mold to improve water holding capacity, then bone meal/bulb fertilizer, and finally gravel/sand to improve drainage if your soil is slow draining. Once all amendments have been added, mix the soil and plant the windflowers 2 inches deep, spaced 2-3 inches apart. Water the plants in lightly after packing the soil. 

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Watering Windflowers

Windflowers thrive with consistently moist soil, but will rot if waterlogged. To avoid rot, make sure to water windflowers regularly when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. How often you will need to water will depend mostly upon your climate. In warm/dry climates, check the soil every 3-5 days. In cooler/wetter climates, watering may only be required once per week (especially if it frequently rains).

Fertilizing Windflowers

Windflowers overall are not very fussy and can produce lots of flowers without fertilizer. The best time to apply fertilizer (if desired) is during planting at a rate of approximately 1 teaspoon of bone meal per plant. A bulb fertilizer or diluted all-purpose fertilizer may be substituted for bone meal. Even though it is not required (especially if fertilizer was applied during planting), an annual application of fertilizer may be applied annually at a rate of 0.5-1 teaspoon of bone meal sprinkled around each plant. For spring flowering varieties, apply in the fall; for fall flowering varieties, apply in the spring.

Pruning Windflowers

Actively growing foliage should never be removed from windflowers, which means they are low maintenance and require no pruning. As a rule, once the leaves have wilted and you can remove leaves from the roots easily with a gentle pull, then you may tidy up your windflowers by removing the foliage. After flowering, windflowers continue to store energy for next year, so removing foliage before it dies naturally may weaken the plant. 

Caring For Windflowers in Pots

Windflowers can grow exceptionally well in pots when placed in a sunny location and provided with consistently moist soil. It is important for pots to have a drainage hole and for some organic matter to be added to the substrate to aid in moisture retention; a light layer of mulch may also help. The other important aspect of potted windflowers is the winter chill period. In milder climates (where temperatures are consistently 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above), planters may be left outside for the winter; otherwise, pots will need to be kept somewhere sheltered but not heated, so that they are protected from frost but still experience cold. 

Winter Care for Windflowers

Windflowers typically overwinter well under a generous 3-4 inch layer of mulch with adequate moisture from snow or rain (or supplemented water in drier climates). However, in harsh winter climates, it is best to dig corms/root clumps up in the fall and store them inside during the winter. This process is only recommended for fall flowering varieties.  

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Common Pests for Windflowers 

Windflowers experience issues with a number of pests, but overall the risk of fatality from pest damage is low. Slugs and snails tend to feed on windflower leaves, but are easily deterred with commercial products such as Sluggo. Foliar nematodes (microscopic worms from the soil) are the most serious issue.

Feeding from nematodes can distort leaves and flowers due to damaged plant cells. Treatment is often difficult, but the best course of action is to trim/remove any affected tissues and dispose of them immediately. Turning over/churning the soil periodically to allow the sun to bake it may rid the area of nematodes, but with limited success. 

Common Questions About Windflower

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