Flowering Poppy Anemone    

Poppy anemone, lily-of-the-field and windflower are names commonly used for plants and flowers of Anemone coronaria L. As the name poppy anemone suggests, the flowers are similar to poppies and come in various shades of white, red, scarlet, blue and purple. As a finishing touch, centers of black stamens complement the appearance, forming a very attractive flower. Poppy anemones have been grown for years as cut flowers either in fields or greenhouses. Another marketing opportunity is as flowering potted plants. In areas with moderate climates, poppy anemones are also suitable as early spring flowering bedding plants.  


Tubers are the traditional propagation method, although seed-propagated F1 hybrids are now available. Since tubers potentially carry disease, seed is the preferred propagation technique. The most commonly grown seed propagated cultivar is the Mona Lisa series. The seed should be lightly covered at sowing, and recommended temperature for germination is 60F. Germination is expected to take one to two weeks, and the seedlings are transplanted six to eight weeks from seeding. Young plants are expected to develop well at 45 to 55F. Following transplant, temperatures at 58 to 65F are recommended during the day and 42 to 50F during the night. Temperatures approaching 75F are reported to inhibit flowering and initiate dormancy.
Information on flowering response to daylength is limited, although the production of poppy anemone usually occurs under the natural short days of winter. In the natural habitat of the Mediterranean, poppy anemones go into dormancy during the hot and dry summer and resume growth and flowering as temperatures cool and moisture increases in the fall and winter. Short days have been suggested to speed up flowering and long days to reduce the time period the plants continue to produce flowers. Shaded conditions have been reported to result in longer flower stems.

Conditions of the Study

Mona Lisa seed was germinated at 60F to determine flowering at various temperatures and daylengths. The seedlings were transplanted into 4-inch pots filled with a peatlite medium after 56 days. At this time, the young plants had one to two true leaves. Plants were irrigated using a fertilizer solution of 100 ppm nitrogen from a complete fertilizer with micronutrients.
Plants were grown using five environments of temperatures and daylengths. The conditions were 8-, 12- or 16-hour days at 61F and 12-hour days at 54F or 68F. To get similar daily amounts of light independent of daylength, the instantaneous light was adjusted to 2,000 foot-candles (400 ìmol·m-2s-1) during an 8-hour day, 1,400 foot-candles (280 ìmol·m-2s-1) during the 12-hour day and 1,000 foot-candles (200 ìmol·m-2s-1) during the 16-hour day. The corresponding 12 mol·day-1m-2 is expected at bench level in greenhouses covered with glass during cloudy summer days in the Midwestern U.S. After 8 weeks, all plants were moved to a 60F greenhouse at 10 to 12 mol·day-1m-2 during 16-hour days.
Appearance of 1/5-inch large flower buds and open flowers was recorded. The number of leaves, the flower stem length and the size of the flowers were also determined for each plant.

Findings and Results

Time to flower In this study, the longest days and the lowest temperature resulted in fastest flowering. Plants at 16-hour days and 61F had flower buds 56 days fromtransplant (115 days from seeding, see Figure 1). Flower buds appeared 8 days later for plants grown at 8 or 12-hour days than for plants grown at 16-hour days. At the lowest temperature of 54F at 12- hour days, flower buds were observed after approximately 59 days (see Figure 1). Five more days were required for flower bud appearance at 61F and 15 more days at 68F. The development between bud appearance and open flowers took 20 to 23 days in the greenhouse environment independent of the initial growing conditions.

Figure 1. Days from start of treatment (56 days from seeding) to 1/5 inch large flower buds and first open flower in poppy anemone Mona Lisa. Top: 61F at 8-, 12- or 16-hour days; Bottom: 12-hour days at 54, 61 or 68F.

Flower stem length The flower stems varied in length from 9.5 to 12.5 inches (see Figure 2). Plants grown at 68F or the shorter daylengths had flower stems 2 to 3 inches shorter than those at 54F or 16-hour days. The conditions supporting fast flower initiation also resulted in plants with the longest flower stems. Low temperatures (54F) or long days are therefore expected to most efficiently support cut flower production. Since flower initiation was delayed at 68F, combining short days with 54F or lower temperatures may more effectively produce short poppy anemones for the bedding plant market or as potted plants.

Figure 2. Stem length at flowering in poppy anemone Mona Lisa. Top: 61F at 8-, 12- or 6-hour days; Bottom: 12-hour days at 54, 61 or 68F.

Number of leaves Independent of daylength, additional leaves developed at higher temperatures (see Figure 3). Plants had nine leaves at 54F, 12 leaves at 60F and 14 leaves at 68F. More leaves appear to be the result of faster leaf formation and development at the higher temperatures rather than correlated to the timing of flower initiation.

Flower size The flower diameter at 3 inches was similar for all plants. Since flower development was completed in the same temperature environment, differences in the flower size were not expected. Low temperature during the final stages of plant and flower development may, as found in many other floriculture crops, increase the flower diameter.

Figure 3. Leaves at flowering of poppy anemone Mona Lisa. Plants were grown at 8-, 12- or 16-hour days and 54, 61 or 68F.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The earlier recommended temperature for growing poppy anemone is 58 to 65F during the day and 42 to 50F during the night. Assuming 12 hour days, the average daily temperature would be 50 to 57F in this recommendation. In this study, with constant temperatures, flowering was fastest at 54F. Although this is within the recommended range, the optimum for efficient flower initiation may be lower than 54F. Contrary to standard recommendations, temperatures of 68F did not prevent or eliminate initiation or flowering, though flowering was slower. Additional studies are necessary to determine the upper limit for production of poppy anemones.
Despite earlier reports for quicker flowering at short days, the long 16-hour days produced flowers approximately one week earlier than 8 or 12-hour days. Therefore, extending a natural short day can be expected to improve and enhance flowering and production. Since conditions supporting fast flowering also resulted in tall plants, producing poppy anemones effectively with limited height may be a challenge. The difference between day and night temperatures (DIF) is a potential alternative temperature strategy for producing poppy anemones with desired plant height and prolific flowering.

All charts and photos courtesy of Jeff W. Werner, University of Alaska. Meriam Karlsson is professor of horticulture at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She may be reached via phone at (907) 474-7005 or via E-mail at [email protected].

Reprinted with permission from Greenhouse Product News March, 2003.