One of the stars of a shady garden bed is astilbe. It has a feathery leaf structure and gorgeous flower plumes that sit above the plant majestically. These tips will show you how to grow astilbe and bring color to your shady perennial garden beds.My mother had a lovely garden set up until she died. Once she retired and she had time to spend in the garden making them really beautiful. Most of her beds were in full sun but she had a long raised planter along one side of her house that is in part shade most of the day. For this spot she haa chosen to grow astilbe. And grow well, they did!
I visited her a few years ago and she gave me some shoots to bring back to North Carolina for my garden (she lived in Maine.) They survived the trip back and are growing well and increasing in size each year.
How to Grow Astilbe.
Astilbe is easy to grow, and is very tough and hardy. One of the beauties of them is that they do equally well in part sun or partial shade and will flower in either location. They prefer shade to look best. Astilbe are companions of ferns, and I have them growing in a shady part of my garden flanked by lovely large ferns, hostas and other astilbe companion plants.
The prettiest thing about astilbe is their canopy of tall flower stalks about a fern like leaf structure.
Growing astilbe is easy if you follow these tips:
Light: Astilbe does well in both half sun/half shade or in full shade
Flowers: The most commonly grown astilbe have flowers that are in the red/pink variety with colors ranging from dusty pink through to vibrant pinks and reds. Some varieties of astilbe are also pale tan or even white.
Size: Most will grow to about 36″ tall with the flower stalk and about 2 feet wide. But there are also varieties that will grow to 5 feet so be sure to choose one suited to the space you have.
Bloom time: Mid to late summer.
Propagation: Root divisions. They take quite easily as is evidenced by mine in their two day car ride in the middle of summer. Advisable to plant in the spring or fall. Divide every two to three years.
Watering: Astilbe likes moist soil so hotter climates will need to have them in shade and you’ll need to add extra water. They grow best in Northern areas where it is cool and wet.
Fertilizer requirements: Best to use slow release fertilizer twice a year.
Soil requirements: They are not too particular. Astilbe will grow in soils that are loamy, soils with heavy clay content or even moist and wet soil. An acid soil is desirable. Be sure it drains well.
Hardiness: Zones 3-9. They don’t do as well in extreme cold or heat zones.
Other facts: Great for cut flowers and deer resistant.
Uses: Astilbe make great choices for garden beds under a canopy of trees. It also is great when grown as a patio plant in a container on a shady deck or patio.
Border Plants Astilbe are spectacular looking planted as a border edge if you have a bed that gets plenty of shade during the day.
Most of the astilbe plants that I have seen around here in Raleigh, have very feathery flowers but some of the varieties can be quite showy such as this “country and western” astilbe with almost chenille like flowers shows.
Astilbe is normally planted directly in the soil, but is equally at home in planters. Be sure to give the roots plenty of room and extra watering will be necessary if you grow them this way.
Have you grown astilbe? What zone are you in?
For more tips on how to grow Astilbe and a look at the color varieties, see my Astilbe Gallery here.
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