The Q&A Archives: Wood anemones producing fewer flowers

Question: My European wood anemones ( Anemone nemorosa ) bloom beautifully each spring. However, they seem to be crowded and are producing fewer flowers than in the past. When and how can I divide them? Ken Bates Olympia, WA

Answer: Wood anemones are very easy to grow in our area and can be propagated by division every three to four years, says Jerry Cooley, head propagator at Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery, growers of more than 10 varieties of Anemone nemorosa and Anemone ranunculoides in Medford, Oregon. Wait until just before the foliage has completely died back - usually mid- to late summer - to dig and divide your anemones, explains Cooley. Here's how to divide them. Using a sharp blade, slice into a section of soil thatcontains an abundance of roots. The roots look like brown worm-sized sticks and are only a few inches underground. Dig up a section of roots and wash them gently in warm water, removing all the soil. Untangle the roots by hand and carefully cut them so that each division has at least one eye. To replant, choose a location that is protected from winds and gets only dappled sunlight in summer. The location should also have loose-textured, damp soil containing a high amount of leaf mold. Wood anemones do best planted around deciduous trees and shrubs, says Cooley. Dig a shallow trench and amend the soil with a 1/2-inch layer of compost and a handful of bone meal. Plant the divisions horizontally, and keep the soil moist. Wood anemones are such vigorous growers that first-year divisions will flower the following spring, says Cooley. If you can't replant immediately, place the roots in a plastic bag filled with moist vermiculite and store in your refrigerator until the bed is ready. I've had theroots last three to four months stored this way, says Cooley. You can plant in the winter as long as the ground can be worked.

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