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How to Grow Pheasant’s Eye — Adonis

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Adonis–commonly called pheasant’s eye–is a genus of perennial and annual brightly colored flowers. Perennial Adonis species bear bright yellow flowers; annual species bear scarlet red flowers. Adonis blooms in late winter and early spring and then goes dormant in the summer.

Adonis flowers are similar to daisies and anemones; their bowl-shaped flowers are composed of as few as 5 petals (annual species) and as many as 30 petals (perennial species). The 2-inch-wide flowers appear above finely cut, fern-like leaves.

Adonis form large mounds of color. Use them at the front of borders or as edging. They will grow in full sun or partial shade, but cannot stand extreme heat. They thrive best where summer nighttime temperatures drop below 65°F (18°C).

Adonis is a genus of about 20 species of annuals and perennials from Europe and Asia, mainly from alpine habitats.

Get to know Adonis

  • Plant type: Annuals and perennials
  • Growing zones and range: Zone 4-9 depending on variety
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 4
  • Height and width: 6 to 16 inches (15-40cm) tall and 8 to 12 inches (20-40cm) wide
  • Foliage: Fernlike foliage
  • Flowers: Solitary, terminal, anemone-like flowers
  • Flower colors: Yellow in perennials, red in annuals
  • Bloom time: Mid-summer
  • Uses: Borders; Asian species in shady woodland; European species in open, rocky site
  • Common name: Adonis, pheasant’s eye
  • Botanical name: Adonis
  • Family name: Ranunculaceae
  • Origin: Europe and Asia
Spring-blooming Adonis amurensis
Spring-blooming Adonis amurensis

Where to plant Adonis

  • Adonis can grow in full sun or partial shade but cannot stand extreme heat.
  • Plant Adonis is light humus-rich and moist soil.
  • Adonis grows best in cool coastal or mountainous regions where night temperatures in summer drop below 65°F (18°C).

When to plant Adonis

  • Set container-grown Adonis in the garden in sprin after the last frost.
  • Sow seeds where you want Adonis to grow in late fall or early spring.

Planting and spacing Adonis

  • Space Adonis 8 to 12 inches (20-40cm) apart.

How to water and feed Adonis

  • Keep the soil evenly moist for Adonis.
  • Fertilize Adonis in late spring with an all-purpose organic fertilizer.

Adonis care

  • Adonis goes dormant in late summer; mark the location on a garden map.

Adonis pests and diseases

  • Adonis is susceptibl to slug damaage.
Adonis annua, annual species
Adonis annua, annual species

Adonis propagation

  • Sow seeds of perennials in containers in a cold frame in autumn when seeds are ripe.
  • Germination of Adonis in spring can be erratic; seedling growth is slow.
  • Divide clumps of establishe plants in early autumn; do not let the roots dry out.

Adonis varieties to grow

  • Adonis aestivalis, summer adonis, pheasant’s eye. Annual bears cup-shaped, dark red 2-inches across flowers with 5 spreading petals; grow 6 to 12 inches tall. Native to Europe.
  • A. amurensis, autumn adonis. Perennial with bowl-shaped yellow flowers 2-inches across with 20 to 30 petals in late winter and early spring; grows 8 to 16 inches tall; named cultivars include ‘Flore Pleno’, ‘Hinomoto’, ‘Plenifora’. Native to China and Japan.
  • A. annua. Annual with cup-shaped dark scarlet flowers grows to 18 inches tall. Native to Europe.
  • A. vernalis, spring adonis. Clump-forming perennial; shallow cup-shaped bright yellow flowers 3-inches across with up to 20 petals; grows to 15 inches tall. Native to Europe.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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