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Anemone Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Anemone Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Anemone flowers – often called windflowers – are a delicate wisp of a bloom favored for its subdued beauty. The most famous anemone flower meaning is for anticipation.

There are over 120 anemone species, which means the wind’s daughter in Greek. Even more impressive than the elegance is the history and meanings.

Among the hundreds of associates, the anemone flower includes forgotten love, anticipation, relaxation, spring, expectation, remembering a loved one, or protection against evil or ill will. But there are also associations with bad omens.

About the Anemone Flower

Anemones are often favored for their dainty and colorful petals. This species of flowers belong to the same family as buttercups. The 120 different species fall into three categories: spring flowering, larger fall flowering, or the tuberous Mediterranean.

Of the many types of anemones, some of the most popular varieties include Anemone coronaria, Eriocapitella hupehensis Japanese anemone – and Anemone hortensis broad-leaved. The Chinese Honorine Jerbert is one of the most popular hybrids. 

These flowers are native to multiple parts of the world, from Greece to Afghanistan or Montana. White species are Eastern natives, while North American and European strands include red, yellow, and blue.

You can expect anemone to start their season in spring. But anemones that are not part of the Anemone genus will have a delayed fall blooming season.

The resilence of this flower species allows for growth in hardiness zones 3A to 10B, meaning temperatures between -30℉ and 115℉.

An interesting trait of anemones is the flower’s propensity to close at night and re-emerge to bask in the sun each morning, beautifully refreshed.

History

Anemones first appeared in Western culture legends, starting in ancient Greece. The name anemone comes from the Greek word anemos – wind. 

These flowers are early growers, often appearing before spring hits. Coincidentally, many people believe that the appearance of these flowers symbolizes the arrival of spring. 

Within the many strains of anemone, some species have medicinal purposes. And other strains that are poisonous with high toxicity levels. The only edible anemone is the marsh marigold.

Medicinal anemones can help calm someone experiencing a panic attack, whether after a traumatic event or due to an acute anxiety disorder. 

The anemone nemorosa and wood anemone can treat cramps and menstrual complications. But these flowers are not safe for females who are breastfeeding or pregnant or anyone with a serious illness or low blood pressure.

These flowers also contain protoanemonin, an irritating substance that can irritate the gastrointestinal tract or mouth. Extremely high doses can cause respiratory distress, while milder problems include nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. 

How to Grow Anemones

Anemones are easy flowers to grow but can produce a huge array of flowers in the early days of spring. Depending on your location, you’ll need to plant your flowers in full sun in early spring or autumn to late winter.

Hardiness zones seven and higher have milder winters, allowing planting anemone corms in fall if overwintered with a frost cloth or low tunnel. 

But in zones six and lower, you’ll need to start your flowers in a greenhouse and not be brought outdoors until the end of winter to early spring. This is because temperatures below 25℉ will cause the corms to freeze and rot. 

Anemone seeds (corms) look like shriveled acorns and require soaking for three to four hours in water at room temperature. Oversoaking will cause rotting. You’ll notice the corms plumb up to double in size while soaking.

If you want early blooms, you’ll need to presprout your corms by planting them into a seed tray with a flat bottom. You’ll need each hole to be halfway full of damp potting soil. After pouring the corms into the holes, top them with additional potting soil. 

Store your tray in a cool area between 40℉ and 50℉ for up to two weeks. After that, you’ll need to keep the soil moist and remove corms that are moldy or rotten. Then, you can plant them outside once the corms develop rootlets – white hair-like strings.

Prepare your bed by treating the soil with a balanced organic fertilizer and two to three inches of compost. After mixing the soil, plant the corms six inches apart, two inches deep. Limit each bed to four rows. 

How to Care for Anemones

Anemones are an easy flower to care for, with minimal maintenance requirements. You’ll need to keep the flowers properly watered and remove old foliage. Before each new growth, perform a cut back down to the ground to encourage healthy regrowth.

What Is the Anemone Flower Meaning and Symbolism? 

There are as many meanings and symbolisms to the anemone flower as species – a lot! The flowers have different representations depending on location and can mean good or bad omens.

  • When the petals close, rain is coming
  • Loss of someone special
  • Death of a loved one
  • The arrival of spring winds
  • Bad luck and ill omens
  • Excitement or anticipation of a future event
  • Forgotten or forsaken love
  • Protection from ill wishes and evil spirits
  • Protection from illness or disease
  • Fairies and the fairy world

Symbolism of an Anemone Tattoo

Many people choose an anemone tattoo for specific symbols. For example, one common meaning of an anemone tattoo is to protect oneself from evil, disease, and bad wishes. Out west, you also see anemone tattoos used as a good luck charm or a memorial for a fallen soldier of a World War.

But you’ll rarely see anyone from an Eastern culture with this type of flower tattoo. Over there, it would be symbolic of bad luck. 

What Is the Cultural Significance of an Anemone?

Anemones have a rich history from multiple cultures. You can find cultural significance for anemones in Greek, Victorian, Egyptian, and Chinese legends.

In Greek mythology, the anemone flower directly connects to the love story’s tragedy between Aphrodite – the goddess of love – and Adonis. Legend says that because Aphrodite stayed in a relationship with Adonis for too long, the gods murdered him. 

As Aphrodite held vigil over her lover’s grave, her tears wet the ground, causing the growth of anemone flowers. This story connects the anemone to the symbolic gestures of losing a loved one. But Greeks also consider anemones a sign of the arrival of a fresh spring breeze.

However, during the Victorian period, anemone flowers had a different significance. These flowers represented any forbidden love. Europeans used to keep anemones on their persons to prevent diseases. And in the 19th century, anemones were symbolic of fragility and frailty.

Although in both China and Egypt, the anemone represents poor fortune and illness, mainly due to the coloring. 

And in Christianity, the dark red color of anemone flowers is a metaphor for the blood of Jesus during his sacrifice on the cross. This legend leads anemones to be representative of the benevolence of God, forgiveness, or a love of humanity. 

Anemone Flower Meaning Based on Color

When considering a flower’s meaning, you don’t just need to know about the species itself. You also need to understand what individual colors symbolize. 

Red

Red anemones are a common representation of lost or forsaken love. Often, these flowers are a symbol of a love lost by death. But Chinese cultures believe that red is symbolic of good fortune or life in general. 

See: 67 Types of Red Flowers

White

Most of the time, white anemones are associated with death or bad luck. So Eastern cultures often use white anemones for funerals. But in Western cultures like Germany and the UK, white symbolizes more positive meanings like innocence. In the US, it’s a symbol of sincerity.

See: 65 Types of White Flowers

Blue

Depending on where you live, blue anemones can represent protection against evil or as a symbol of upcoming evil. Blue can also symbolize love, respect, mutual trust, anticipation, or affirmation of intelligence.

Purple

Purple and indigo anemones also represent anticipation. Many people include these blooms in bouquets for celebrating happy occasions like baby showers, weddings, anniversaries, or birthdays. But purple can also be a talisman for warding off evil spirits.

Yellow

In China, yellow anemones symbolize happiness and material wealth, as gold is representative of an upcoming fortune. Therefore, these yellow flowers are often for celebrating commercial success. In addition, yellow and red have an association with the Chinese new year.

When to Give Someone an Anemone Flower

Anemone flowers are not suitable for all occasions. These flowers are most often connected with funerals and memorial services for someone that’s passed away. 

But you can also use these flowers in bouquets for someone expecting a significant life change, like marriage, moving, or the birth of a child. 

You can gift a bouquet with anemone flowers for Western cultures as a get well wish or to say thank you.

Anemone Flower Meaning FAQ

Many people have a few questions about the anemone flower that we haven’t yet covered. 

What Does Anemone Smell Like?

These flowers do not have a distinct floral aroma that will tickle the palette like other flowers. 

Are Anemones Bad Luck?

Eastern cultures associate white anemones with bad luck, not due to the specific flower but the color. White is often symbolic of the underworld and death in Chinese symbology. It’s believed that anyone who laid eyes on a white anemone would befall an ill fate. But red and yellow are anemones with good luck symbolisms.

But Egyptians believed that the anemone flower brought bad luck due to its symbolism of death and illness. So in ancient times, these flimsy flowers in a brilliant ghostly pale white grew around the flood banks along the Nile River.

Why Are Anemones Called Windflowers?

Anemones got their nickname windflowers due to the thin, delicate structure of the flower petals. They are so fine that when the wind blows, it can cause the petals to tear or rip off the flower. According to legend, anemones are meant to be a brief, fleeting moment of beauty. 

As spring comes to an end around May, these flowers fade away, not seen growing again until the next spring.

Conclusion

Anemones are a perfect flower to plant in your yard for early pops of color to signal that spring is on its way. And the minimal fragrance means these hardy species aren’t attractive for deer and other pests. But they do have a short life, so enjoy their beauty while you can, much like Aphrodite and her love for Adonis.