Choosing what to grow in your garden is one of the joys of owning a plot of land. However, when a plant chooses you, it can be difficult to eradicate these unwanted guests and many gardeners find themselves at their wit’s end trying to remove certain plants from their outdoor space. Japanese anemone is one of the most common garden invaders in the UK, and while they may look beautiful, they can be a real pain. But how do you get rid of Japanese anemones? In the simplest terms, getting rid of this plant is going to take a lot of effort and hard work on your part. The Japanese anemone really does want to set up a home in your garden and it isn’t going to back down without a fight. While this sounds like something out of a gardener’s nightmare, it is possible and with the right attitude, you may be able to free your garden from this pest once and for all.

Japanese Anemone. White flower with yellow centre
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What Is Japanese Anemone?

Japanese Anemone, scientifically known as Anemone hupehensis (formerly Anemone x hybrida), is a perennial flowering plant native to China but naturalized in Japan, which is why it’s commonly referred to as Japanese Anemone. It’s part of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, and is favoured in gardens for its elegant flowers and the late summer to fall blooming period when many other flowers have finished their display. With flowers blooming in late summer and lasting all the way through into October, many people use this plant as a backdrop or a border. They are also incredibly easy to care for and this can lull gardeners into a false sense of security.

While they may be pretty much maintenance-free, these pesky plants will quickly take over an area causing a nuisance wherever they go.

What’s The Issue With The Japanese Anemone?

If you have planted a Japanese anemone in your garden, you’d better get used to seeing it because once established, it’s difficult to get these plants to move on. The problem is that being such low maintenance and hardy plant, the Japanese anemone will quickly take over any flower bed or border that it is planted in. This might be an issue from an aesthetic point of view because your other plants will no longer be able to take centre stage. Moreover, the Japanese anemone will suck many of the nutrients out of the soil, leaving the other plants deficient which could affect their health. If you want all of your plants to be equally healthy, it is best to avoid planting them alongside Japanese anemones.

The Best Way To Get Rid Of Japanese Anemone

Getting rid of Japanese Anemone can be quite a challenge due to its resilient nature and tendency to spread via rhizomes. Here’s the best approach to remove it from your garden:

Step 1 – Dig Out the Roots

Begin by using a sturdy garden fork or a spade to loosen the soil around the Japanese Anemone. Carefully insert the tool well away from the base of the plant to avoid slicing through the root system. Gently lift the soil to unearth the roots without breaking them. Once loosened, use your hands to tease out the roots, ensuring you remove the entire network. Japanese Anemones have a robust and deep root system that can extend far from the visible plant, so be prepared to dig wide and deep.

Step 2 – Persistent Hand-Pulling

After the initial excavation, continue to monitor the area closely. New shoots may appear from any root fragments that were missed. When you spot a new shoot, use your hands to pull it out from as deep as possible to get as much of the root as you can. This process will be ongoing and may need to be done weekly, depending on how quickly new growth appears. The goal is to exhaust the energy reserves in any remaining root pieces by consistently removing the shoots before they can photosynthesize and replenish their energy.

Step 3 – Monitor and Repeat

Keep a vigilant eye on the area over the following months. Any new growth should be removed as soon as it’s spotted. You may find that you need to repeat the digging process if you notice a concentration of new shoots in a particular area, indicating a larger piece of root that was missed during the first removal.

It’s not uncommon for this cycle of monitoring and removal to last through several growing seasons.

Step 4 – Mulch

Once you are confident that most of the root system has been removed, cover the area with a thick layer of mulch. Organic mulches like wood chips or bark can be particularly effective. The mulch should be several inches thick to effectively suppress light and prevent any remaining Anemone roots from sprouting.

The mulch will also help improve soil quality and health as it breaks down over time.

Step 5 – Maintain

Persistence is crucial in the battle against Japanese Anemone. Continue to keep an eye on the area for at least a full year after you think all the plants have been removed. It’s not uncommon for roots to lie dormant for several months before sprouting new shoots. By maintaining vigilance and acting quickly to remove any new growth, you can eventually get rid of Japanese anenome from your garden.

Can Herbicides Kill Japanese Anenome?

Many gardeners have an aversion to using herbicides such as Round-Up but in some cases, these can prove to be very effective. In the case of Japanese anemone, however, this method will not provide any quicker solution than pulling out the new shoots. So, you might as well stick with the pulling method since this will be kinder in the garden.

What If I Want Japanese Anemones?

For some people, the Japanese anemone is a beautiful plant that they feel should be included in their garden. However, they quickly realise the damaging effect it can have and wish they had never planted it. But if you have fallen in love with the delicately coloured flowers of this plant, there may still be a way that you can include it in your garden without affecting the rest of the plant life. Planting Japanese anemones in containers or in a flower bed all of their own will prevent them from interfering with anything else in the garden.

Conclusion

Japanese anemone is a very attractive flowering plant that is found in gardens across the UK. While it is pretty, it is also incredibly invasive and will soon take over the area it has been planted, sapping the energy and nutrients from the soil which means all other local plants will suffer. Removing the plant is a time-consuming and drawn-out process, but it can be done. The key is to remain patient and resist the urge to continually dig up the ground after you have done this the first time. It may take up to two years, but regular picking of the area should be enough to rid your garden of this pesky plant once and for all.

Garden Doctor Trev

Garden Doctor Tips

“After the first major dig, all you need to do is pull new shoots just like when weeding!”

“After that first major dig to get to the roots, do not try digging again, you may make the problem worse!”

“Don’t plant Japanese anemones in the first place!”

“Time and patience are key, herbicides will not give you better or even faster results!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Japanese anemone invasive?

Invasive species are a serious problem in the natural world. They can cause irreversible damage to ecosystems and threaten native plants and animals. The Japanese anemone is one such invasive plant that has been introduced in Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan for ornamental purposes.

Do anemones come back every year?

The answer is yes, anemones do come back every year. They are a hardy species that can withstand the harshest of conditions, which is why they are often found in coastal areas where saltwater and cold air meet. The variety known as the “Japanese anemone” has even been observed to survive when buried under several inches of snow!

How do you get rid of Japanese anemones?

You can get rid of an anemone by digging down and removing the roots. It is important to only do this once as you may cause the problem to spread. Once the main roots have been lifted, just pull any new growth as soon as it appears as if you are weeding. This process can usually take up to 2 years before the plant has fully been removed!


Author

Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.


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