Anemone vs. Poppy: All You Need to Know

Anemone and poppy plants are eye-catching additions to garden beds. If you’re considering planting one of them on your property, you should know the key similarities and differences between an anemone vs. poppy.

Anemone and poppy plants produce spring flowers with petals surrounding a central disk and supported by upright stems. However, poppies feature bigger blooms, tolerate warmer weather, and require less watering. In contrast, anemones blossom faster and longer.

a white Anemone flower

In this article, we’ll give you a detailed comparison and an overall understanding of anemone and poppy characteristics. Let’s get right to it!

Anemone vs. Poppy: Detailed Comparison

Anemones grow in temperate regions worldwide, with many species native to North America. Similarly, some poppies originated in North America, while others are from Europe and Central Asia.

Today, both plants are popular with gardeners and plant enthusiasts because of their striking flowers. Certain varieties from the two groups resemble one another, yet there are still major differences to consider.

For starters, anemones and poppies belong to separate taxonomic genera and families.

Anemone vs. Poppy: Taxonomic Classification

Anemone is part of the windflower genus, Anemone, and the Ranunculaceae family. This classification puts it in the same group as buttercups, globe flowers, and marsh marigolds.

Member species usually feature showy flowers consisting of five or more petals, as well as several pistils and stamens.

On the contrary, poppy flowers are under the Papaver genus. Along with other flora like celandines, creamcups, and bloodroots, they belong to the Papaveraceae family. This set mainly consists of herbaceous plants with a few small tropical trees and woody shrubs.

All the same, anemones and poppies both belong to the Ranunculales order. A defining characteristic of this group includes a unique grooved structure of the pollen. Plus, flowers are considered simple and generally bisexual.

Read more: Hepatica vs Anemone: What’s the Difference?

Anemone vs. Poppy: Plant Characteristics

Poppy flowers exist in over 50 species, while the anemone genus has more than 120 members. So, you can expect to see them in various colors, sizes, and structures.

That said, let’s check out some plant characteristics of anemones and poppies.

1. Flowers

Anemones and poppies are the same in that they usually produce single blooms. Although, there are varieties that have double flowers. Both plants also appear in a rainbow of colors.

For instance, poppy flowers come in shades of purple, blue, white, yellow, orange, and red, with the latter being the most popular variety.

On the flip side, anemones are commonly blue, white, yellow, and pink. Take note, though, that some types offer blooms with a similar shade as red poppies.

Size is one key difference when it comes to anemones and poppies.

Poppy flowers are typically brighter and bigger. Varieties like the Oriental Poppy can even feature blooms 9-10 inches in diameter. The flowers also showcase a poppy seed center, a source of oil extract for cooking and baking.

Conversely, anemone blooms are smaller, ranging from 2 to 5 inches. They’re more delicate and sway even with the slightest breeze. That’s why they’re also known as windflowers.

2. Maturation Height

Poppy plants can mature to an average height of 2-4 feet, while anemones are typically smaller, reaching 6 inches to 4 feet. The wood anemone is notably the smallest, which can stand only 4 inches tall.

3. Stems and Foliage

Both anemone and poppy plants can have lobed, dissected, and fern-like basal leaves. These parts give rise to long upright stems that support their delicate flowers.

poppy flowers

Something else to consider is that both plants contain toxic chemicals in their leaves, stem, and roots. If ingested at high levels, these components can cause fatality in dogs, cats, and humans.

4. Blooming Patterns

Anemones are perennial plants that gardeners plant annually in less favorable environments. They can bloom in spring, summer, or fall, depending on the cultivar.

On the other hand, most poppy flowers are spring-blooming annuals. However, certain perennial exceptions include the Oriental, Iceland, and alpine poppies. Even so, these varieties won’t last long and normally die after only 2-3 years.

5. Blooming Period

An advantage of anemones over poppies is their blooming period. Most anemones blossom around 3-4 weeks, while poppies last only 2-3 weeks.

Naturally, the length of blooming will depend on the variety and the climate.

Still, there are ways you can extend this season. Feeding your plant with fertilizer is one thing you can do. Deadheading is another must-do activity to encourage further growth.

Anemone vs. Poppy: Growth Requirements

Growth requirement is another consideration when differentiating between anemones and poppies. As such, here’s a breakdown of their needs:

1. Hardiness Zones

Poppy and anemone flowers are easy to grow and maintain. They can survive various hardiness zones, with preferences according to variety.

Generally, you can find at least one plant to cultivate between Zones 3–10, but not one species can withstand all these regions.

For example, Anemone blanda survives in Zones 4–8, while Anemone coronaria grows best in Zones 7–10.

On the contrary, poppies are hardier. You can plant Oriental and Iceland poppies between Zones 3–8.

2. Temperature

Anemone and poppy plants also differ in their temperature requirements.

Most anemone species thrive in cooler temperatures. They prefer temperatures of 58–65°F during the day and 42–50°F at night.

Temperatures exceeding 75°F can cause wilting, so they may not be the best choice for summer gardens.

Conversely, poppy flowers love warmer weather. The ideal temperature for growth ranges from 60–75°F. They can tolerate temperatures up to 90°F and survive with little attention.

3. Sunlight

Anemones love exposure to full sunlight. So, when growing these plants, locate them in an area where they receive at least 6 hours of direct sun. Some varieties, though, prefer partial shade but still need at least four hours of sun.

poppy flower field

Similarly, poppies require 6 hours basking in the sunlight. They can also stand partial shade. However, you can expect fewer blooms in such conditions.

Keep in mind, as well, that both plant species won’t thrive in extreme sunlight and heat. So, you’ll need to place them in the shed under these circumstances.

4. Water

The watering needs of anemones and poppies vary as well.

Anemones need slightly moist soil. To maintain this level, you should practice watering slowly to facilitate uniform and better absorption. Doing so will prevent over-soaking and root rot.

You should also adjust water volumes during heavy rainfall or drier weather.

Take note that certain varieties have special needs, too. For instance, Anemone nemorosa, or wood anemone, goes dormant in midsummer. This behavior means it won’t need watering until it regrows and becomes active again in the fall.

On the other hand, mature poppies are more drought-tolerant. Their stems can hold water effectively, so you can allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions.

5. Soil

Well-draining soil is an essential requirement for the survival of poppies and anemones.

In particular, poppies prefer soil with a pH level between 6–8 and a sand-loam combination. This mixture drains faster while still reaching all parts of the root system.

All the same, poppies can adapt to heavy clay, but such conditions will require monitoring to prevent root rot.

On the contrary, anemones love rich, moist soil. Loam serves this purpose best as it provides a good balance between silt, sand, and clay. Plus, anemones require slightly acidic to neutral soil pH ranging from 6–7.

Nevertheless, both anemones and poppies benefit from the soil with added compost or other organic matter during planting. This nutrient boost allows healthier stems and foliage.

Anemone vs. Poppy: Growing Method

Growing anemones and poppies employ varying approaches.

You can cultivate anemones by using corms. It usually takes 3-4 weeks to see visible growth after planting. You can expect blooms as early as 3-4 months when you carry out the activity in time for the blooming season.

To hasten the process, you can also pre-soak and pre-sprout the corms before planting. This process yields flowers as fast as 2 months.

On the contrary, poppies grow from seeds. Once planted, you can observe germination between 20–30 days. They may flower after four to 6 months, depending on growth conditions.

You can also reproduce poppies from existing ones through division and root cuttings. In the former, you should break the poppy plant into sections with at least one growing shoot, then replant.

In the same way, you can cut roots at a 45-degree angle and closest to the root ball, then replant them afterward.

Related: Rue Anemone vs. Wood Anemone: What’s the Difference?

Is the Anemone Poppy an Anemone or a Poppy?

Although anemones and poppies have key differences, sometimes these are difficult to spot.

Other times, the confusion comes from seeing poppy-like blooms that are actually anemones. This classic case happens due to the Anemone coronaria, also called anemone poppy or poppy anemone.

Colorful Anemone flowers

This anemone species features dish-shaped flowers that grow about 3 inches in diameter. The bright petals surround a much darker crown giving the blooms a striking resemblance to poppy flowers.


When choosing between an anemone and a poppy, remember that they have different growth requirements, growing methods, and physical characteristics.

Generally, poppies grow bigger and produce equally larger blooms. They’re also hardier, can withstand warmer weather, and require less watering.

On the contrary, anemones grow much faster, and their blooming periods last longer.

Whether you choose anemones or poppies, their beautiful blooms are a sure hit in your garden.