I was warned. My friend told me it would spread when she offered me a handful of Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis). I wanted a groundcover for the shrubs in the front porch garden bed, so I thought a little spreading would be fine.
I assumed it would grow about six inches tall, like the anemones that bloom in early spring. I didn’t do my homework, and I was wrong. Two and a half feet is more like it. I had just cut back the rhododendrons to make them more bushy, and the anemones were swallowing them up.
And yes, it had spread. And spread. Did I mention it had spread?
Canada anemone is native to much of North America, and in the wild grows in “moist to wet meadows, shores and prairies” according to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers, by William Cullina. Those rhizomes enable it to compete in habitats of tightly packed plants. They’re also what enables it to take over in a cushy, well-amended garden bed.
Time to go!
They were hiding the rhododendrons. They were keeping the self-sown poppies from germinating. Instead of a neat carpet under the shrubs, they were clogging up the garden, obscuring the forms of the other plants. I had to get them out of there.
But, it’s a pretty plant. I didn’t want to get rid of it altogether. I carefully dug some plants and relocated them in several wild areas of our property. Hopefully some of them will take.
I removed the rest of them as best I could. Grabbing and pulling left most of the roots behind, and I didn’t want that. I loosened the roots with a garden fork and used my fingers to feel around for those fibrous roots, but I avoided doing so around the shallow-rooted rhododendrons and hydrangeas. I tried not to disturb the roses and the lilies.
I know I didn’t get all the roots. I know the anemones will be back. But this time I’ll be ready for them. In this garden bed, Canada anemone is a weed and will be treated as such.
I’ll be monitoring the anemones in their new locations, and I might even water them during dry spells. If for some reason none of them survive, I bet I know someone who could give me more.