astilbe-clump-pure-white1When the astilbes come into bloom, my secret garden takes on a soft and delicate look and I take special pleasure in spending time there. The feathery panicles of flowers arise from clumps of fern-like foliage in various shades of white, peach, pink, salmon, carmen red and purple creating a feast for the eyes. Depending on the cultivar, they bloom June to August and range in size from the 1’-5′. They are generally considered shade plants but can do well if given plenty of water. The green or reddish foliage is neat and attractive and is an asset all season. Astilbes look wonderful with ferns and other woodland plants and are also effective planted in large drifts. The flower panicles are lovely in arrangements and have a good vase life but can be left on the plants for fall interest.

Type: Herbaceous perennial.

Bloom: Various shades of white, pink, salmon, peach, carmen red, and purple.

Size: 1’-5’ H x 1’-1 ½’ W.

Light: Part shade-shade but considerable sun with adequate moisture.

Soil: Fertile, moist, light, well-drained soil.

Fertilizer: Because they are heavy feeders, they should be fed a high nitrogen (lst number) fertilizer.

Hardiness: Zones 4-9.

Care: Mulch during the summer to conserve moisture.

Pests and Diseases: None of importance.

Propagation: Crown divisions in spring or fall.

Companion plants: Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra exima), bergenia, hostas, ferns.

Outstanding Selections:

    ‘White Glory’ , 2’.
    ‘Bressingham Beauty’, clear pink, 3 ½’; ‘Finale’ light pink, 2-2 ½’.
    ‘Final’ red flowers with dark bronze foliage, 2’; ‘Spinell’ salmon red, 3’.
    ‘Purple Blaze’ purple, 4 ½’.
    N.B. A closely related species, A. japonica, offers the same characterisitics.

Outstanding cultivars:

    ‘ Deutschland’, white, 2’.
    ‘Peach Blossom’, light salmon pink, 20”, most drought tolerant.
    ‘Rhineland’, clear pink, 2′.
    ‘Red Sentinel’, red, 2’.

Plant profiles pointer

By Karen