Astilbe

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Botanical name: Astilbe

Plant type: Flower

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun exposure: Part Sun, Shade

Soil type: Loamy

Flower color: Red, Pink, White

Bloom time: Spring, Summer

Astilbe is a perennial with beautiful, showy flowers atop glossy, fern–like foliage. Its flower clusters vary in size from 6 inches to 2 feet and its height varies from 6 inches to 5 feet, depending on the type.

Astilbe may look delicate but they are tough. They are easy to grow and will live a long time in your garden.

If you have a shady area, try astilbes to add color!

Planting

  • Astilbes prefer a site that receives light to moderate shade; they will burn in full sun.
  • Astilbes prefer soils that provide average to slightly below average moisture. Make sure your soil drains well and does not puddle or get water-logged in rain. Amend soil with peat moss, perlite and course sand to improve the drainage. 
  • You can plant astilbe seeds, but they are short–lived and difficult to germinate. It is easier to plant the divisions from other astilbe plants.
  • Plant the divisions in the spring or fall about 1 to 3 feet apart, depending on the type.
  • If you are planting bare-root plants, make sure the holes are twice as wide as the plants and 4 to 6 inches deep. Place the plants so that the roots are fanned slightly and pointing downwards, with the crown planted 1 to 2 inches below the ground level. Cover the roots with soil and press firmly.
  • Make sure to plant the divisions in consistently moist, humus-rich soil. Dry soil can be fatal to your plants.
  • To prolong the foliage, provide shade from hot afternoon sun. Astilbes can grow in deep shade but will not flower as much.

Care

  • Remember to regularly check your astilbes to make sure they are moist. Water accordingly if rain does not occur. It's best to water deeply when you water (not everyday sprinkling).
  • Astilbes spread quickly and form broad clumps. Their crowns often rise above the soil as they grow, so make sure to cover them with humus-rich soil or lift and replant the clumps.
  • Your astilbes will benefit from a balanced organic fertilizer applied in the spring.
  • Be sure to divide the overgrown clumps every 3 to 4 years in the spring. You can either replant the divisions immediately or put them in pots to be planted out in the early summer when they are re-established.
  • Astilbe do fine as cutting flowers if you wish to clip some blooms to bring inside.
  • Removing the flower heads will not promote continued flowering. 
  • After blooming has finished for the season, feel free to clip off any spent flower stems. Your astilbes will continue to provide attractive foliage until fall.
  • After the first frost, the leaves may yellow; trim leaves if you wish and fresh growth will come next spring.

Pests

Recommended Varieties

  • Fanal, for its dark green foliage and dark crimson flowers
  • Irrlicht, for its dark green foliage and elegant white flowers
  • Venus, for its bright green foliage and bright pink flowers

Special Features

  • Attracts Butterflies

Comments

I live in central California

By amandcrl2009 on August 8

I live in central California and want to grow astilbe. Does anyone know when it blooms, and if I'd be able to have any in bloom for May of next year? I'm really wanting them in the garden for my wedding.

I planted three astilbe

By Dotti on August 2

I planted three astilbe shoots in the spring. They came up nicely and leafed out nicely....but it has never bloomed. I followed all the advice on your earlier posts. It is planted in a part shade spot sheltered from the hot afternoon sun near the steps to my deck. I live in Mississippi so we get plenty of rain and sunshine, cool mornings as in 70-80s, and hot afternoons 90s. Any ideas?? Anyone??

Beautiful as they are,

By Almanac Staff on August 5

Beautiful as they are, astilbe can be finicky. They thrive in light shade, with moist conditions. Some even recommend waterfront or "bog" conditions. They are heavy feeders, which means they like highly organic/composted soil, and appreciate high-nitrogen fertilizer in the fall; this helps bud formation which occurs in the fall. Another factor may be soil pH: Astibles like it at 5.5 to 6.8, and that's relatively acidic.
Hope this helps!

Almanac Staff Wrote: "We've

By Peter Kelley on August 1

Almanac Staff Wrote: "We've never heard of a way to change astilbe colors. The only solution to a brighter color is more direct sunlight. It's more likely that they did not put the right colors in your seed packet. You may need to replace or compliment with other colors.:

... Might it be a case of the sun altering the coler? The Astilbe MIGHT be planted in a location where the plant does not burn but yet does not get optimum sun light.

As more of a Hosta Grower (with only one (1) very happy Astilbe) I know that hosta can be altered by sunlight. Any chance that Astulbe behave in the same way? True the plant may not be what the plant was supposed to be.

Peter Kelley
St. Paul, MN USA

My astilbes are of 3 colors-I

By G Pipes on July 28

My astilbes are of 3 colors-I have 2 white,1 light pink,4 deep pink. The one light pink one is covered in flies constantly but not the other plants. Unfortunately it is right by my front door so I really have to scoot to get into the house without being followed!
Just would like to know why they are so attracted to this particular one.

I have around 20 plants in

By keith handley on July 27

I have around 20 plants in two seperate beds. This year, instead of their lovely pink and red colours, most of them have no colour at all? Is there anything I can feed them to restore their colour?

I was greatly surprised to

By Clavestar on July 26

I was greatly surprised to find your website with so many answers to the people posts. I think that is a kind and professional behavior. In spite of people repeat the questions over and over. I have sent questions to different gardener websites and I did not received any answer.
I have two shade areas and I bought three times the Astilbe roots and I did not get anything. Last year I planted them again in the two different areas. Until now two of them are small growing in one area. To my surprise, I dug the other area and I found one of the roots intact despite the harsh winter that it did not grow. I planted it in the other area. Why do you think in the shade area under a big tree, the roots do not develop? Thank you

The tree may shade your

By Almanac Staff on July 28

The tree may shade your plants too much and the tree roots may compete for the moisture in the soil. We suggest that you transplant the astilbe to a different spot. Make sure that the soil drains well and that it is not compacted.
 
 

I planted two astilbe plants

By Erin Cottie on July 26

I planted two astilbe plants in my garden, it's is shade for most of the day, I water regularly and I have other plants that are doing well in the same area but the astilbe flowers have all turned brown. The foliage looks okay but I'm not sure why the flowers have turned color. Help?

I have transplanted three

By Jack McCarthy

I have transplanted three Astilbe plants that were doing fine and now see them thin and burnt. I am afraid I have put then in an area that receives to much sun. I live in the northeast (NY) and it is July, will they survive. I have given them plenty of water but to no avail, but hoping for the best. Please advise!

Jack

Your astilbe have been

By Almanac Staff on July 25

Your astilbe have been scorched by high temperatures and perhaps have dry soil. to. To attempt to save, move the plants to a shady, moist location that's protected from winds.

Can Astilbe be planted close

By Kim F

Can Astilbe be planted close to the foundation of a house, or will the roots get big enough to cause problems over time? Is it a problem if the foliage touches the home?

Thanks

Yes, it's fine to plant

By Almanac Staff

Yes, it's fine to plant astilbe near the house.  Astilbe need moist soil all the time so make sure it's an area that doesn't dry out or add supplemental waterings. They tend to thrive in low-lying spots.

We have a Astilbe chinensis

By Walt K

We have a Astilbe chinensis 'Vision in Pink' PP 11860 which we planted this spring. The leaves on the plant are drying out and turning brown on the edges. We water it but not to much. Is there anything we can do to save it.

If it is especially hot

By Almanac Staff

If it is especially hot weather, and your plants are in full sun, provide some temporary shade (such as a shade cloth) during the hotter part of the day. Perhaps increase the watering a bit during hot weather. Many astilbes are sensitive to heat and direct sun and tend to get crispy leaves; they like evenly moist soil.

why does our astilbe spike

By sandy alfred

why does our astilbe spike flowers always have lots of flies on them...they stay there for quite a while before flying off!

Flies are also the lesser

By meghan49 on July 24

Flies are also the lesser known pollinators.

Our guess is that these flies

By Almanac Staff

Our guess is that these flies are sipping the nectar from the astilbe. Each astilbe flower actually is composed of many tiny flowers, each with a little bit of nectar at the base to entice insects, bees, and butterflies to take a drink. As they do, they'll get dusted with pollen, which they will spread to other flowers as they move on.

We purchased a pale pink

By michelle barker

We purchased a pale pink astilbe a few weeks ago and it was lovely but now the flowers have turned to a pale white and green so not so pretty now it is in a pot and was in all day sun in a south facing garden but we moved it to the shade today what are we doing wrongany thanks Michelle

Michelle has a same problem

By Perry Ellaway

Michelle has a same problem to the Astile in the that that it has a pale white colour from pink colour.

Could you please help us us this.

Thanks

Perry

We have heard that Astilbe

By Almanac Staff

We have heard that Astilbe arendsii 'Hyacinth' starts out as pink but fades to white as the flower gets older. Other varieties also pale in flower color after one to three weeks. In general, flowers might also fade if they are pollinated, or if they are under stress, such as too much heat. But our best guess with the astilbe is that it is just their time to fade, and it is a natural part of the plant's life cycle.

We planted 3 Astilbe plants

By Carol Berton

We planted 3 Astilbe plants this spring and shortly after they flowered I sprayed them, with soapy water to keep the bugs off. About 3-4 days later the flowers all turned brown. The plants seem fine. should I dead head the flowers? Will the flowers come back?

do I I deadhead the flowers

By rita n agriffin

do I I deadhead the flowers when they turn brown? will they re-flower this summer?

i live in so florida and

By Karen Mulhern

i live in so florida and wondered if there's any way to grow astilbes? i have an area of deep shade and one of morning sun with shade from around 1pm on. any suggestions?

I was given 2 astilbe plants

By lorinda

I was given 2 astilbe plants free in pots. They have not been watered for a while and are looking really limp and sorry for themselves!! The flowers have dried up before they have even opened. I've given them a really good watering. Will they come back to life? Do I need to cut them right back??

I have my astilbes planted in

By Shelli

I have my astilbes planted in a very shady area along with bleeding heart and lily of the valley. It's kept moist, but the astilbes aren't doing very well; neither are the other plants. I amended and raised the soil before planting, and only one atilbe out of 6 is even blooming at all and it's a very small pale plume. The bleeding heart is turning yellow and has become very spindly. The lily of the valley has done nothing. I wonder if all these plants need more sun. I live in zone 7, S.E. Oklahoma.

My bleeding heart does well

By Sammy0509052

My bleeding heart does well in the shade. It is only a spring flower and does look like it's dying come summer. It will definitely bloom beautifully again in the spring next year.

You might try watering them

By Mark Zucker

You might try watering them less frequently. A good deep watering is fine when the soil dries out but they shouldn't be watered every day. I believe they do best in shade where they receive no direct sunlight. They come in several varieties including white, pink and a dark magenta, that is almost red.

Your astilbe will do better

By Almanac Staff

Your astilbe will do better in partial shade (morning sun, afternoon shade is best). Both the bleeding heart and the lilies of the valley are late-spring blooming plants and will not bloom again until next spring. It's natural for the bleeding heart to get spindly this time of year.

We have 4 Astilbes and they

By Leslie G

We have 4 Astilbes and they are doing well in our small garden. My son,for mothers day put Weed Block and mulch down. Will this bother the existing Astilbes?

Can astilbe be planted under

By Linda Olson

Can astilbe be planted under pine trees?

I have several astilbe under

By Sheryl Brining

I have several astilbe under pine trees and they are doing fine.

Hmm. We probably wouldn't

By Almanac Staff

Hmm. We probably wouldn't plant astilbe under pine. As mentioned above, astilbe need a lot of water and pine trees tend to suck it all up. However, if you have a spot with an abundance of moisture, perhaps next to a lawn that is watered regularly, astilbe would be fine.

I have been growing Astilbe

By Sam2

I have been growing Astilbe for several years, however, they never look like the pictures in the garden magazines. I barely get blooms and when I do they are not very vibrant. I am not sure what I am doing wrong. They are planted in slight shade and are watered weekly. They don't seem to spread either. I really like them, but don't know why they don't look as good as the pictures. We live in zone 5. Do I need to fertilize? If so, What kind of organic fertilizer do you recommend and can I do it in the Spring or do I need to wait for Fall?

When growing astilbe, light

By Almanac Staff

When growing astilbe, light shade works well, so that's not the issue. They do love very organic soil. Annual additions of compost or organic matter around the base of the plant will be rewarded with loads of blooms and healthy foliage.
Astilbes are unforgiving in dry soils, as the leaves will brown quickly. Keep the soil moist though not water-logged.
In terms of fertilizing, Astilbe set flower buds for next year in the late summer/early fall so fertilizer applications at that time are the most beneficial for flower bud formation. Use a slow-release fertilizer according to label directions. A fertilizer ratio of 3-1-2 is preferred. Ask you garden nursery for brand recommendations.

I have an Astilbe that has

By Cynthia van den Berg

I have an Astilbe that has grown to about 8 feet, with 1 thick stem. I bought the plant as a baby so I haven't had flowers yet. The Astilbe grows in the rockery next to my pond, under a Viburnum tree, so is sheltered. The leaves haven't dropped off in 2 years. Should I cut the thick stem back in Spring? In Johannesburg, South Africa we do have cold winters.

The plant you're describing

By Mark Zucker

The plant you're describing is most probably goat's beard. Check information on care of goat's beard.

I wondered if Astilbes make a

By Robbin Treen

I wondered if Astilbes make a good potted plant? Im in zone 9a and we will get a few days of 100 degree temps, but I wanted to put in on my covered patio. Thank you in advance.

Astilbe can grow in an

By Almanac Staff

Astilbe can grow in an outside container, however, this plant requires a winter chill time. It can only be forced to flower if exposed to temperatures below 40 degrees F for 3 months.

I love astilbes flower. It is

By lawmi hmar zote

I love astilbes flower. It is a beautiful flower. It catches my eye

So I just read the post that

By AnnR

So I just read the post that says Astilbes are usually safe from deer and rabbits. Can you give me a clue what then might have dug up my newly planted beauties? (in the ground for about 4 weeks) I do have a plethora of chipmunks around

Skunk maybe? Skunks are

By Jackie Steele

Skunk maybe? Skunks are famous for digging. They are after the earthworms and bug in the ground. They even eat yellowjacket grubs! Good skunk!

From my experience it's

By Kathy Bowers

From my experience it's probably the squirrels

Astilbe doesn't have a lot of

By Almanac Staff

Astilbe doesn't have a lot of pests, but it could be rodents. To protect your plants, the only thing that might work for small critters is laying down hardware cloth, 1/2-inch wife mesh, over the soil. Remove once the plants are established and bigger.

My astilbes (quart size

By Mary Kimball

My astilbes (quart size containers) were planted in July and even started putting on new leaves. Now everything is brown and dying. We started having 100 degree temperatures about the same time. Is that the problem? Will they come back in the spring? I have kept them watered and they are in almost complete shade.

You got it. 100 degree temps!

By Almanac Staff

You got it. 100 degree temps! Astilbe plants aren't big fans of sun, direct sunlight, nor high temps. Get them in part shade or filtered shade. Keep them moist with mulch and make sure the water levels aren't too low. Water them deeply, then let the ground get dry, and water them deeply again. We hope that they recover.

I am afraid that my young

By Corrie clay

I am afraid that my young astilbes are dying. They have turned brown already and its not even fall yet. Do they do this this early? What can I do to save the ones still with some green?

Hi Corrie, We aren't sure

By Almanac Staff

Hi Corrie, We aren't sure where you are located. Here are some thoughts: Astilbe do not like much sun so if the sunlight levels or temps are too high, get them in part shade or filtered shade. Also, they like moist conditions so if the water level is too low, that could be an issue. Water them deeply, then let the ground get dry, and water them deeply again. We hope that they recover.

My astilbe are supposed to be

By Mary Beth

My astilbe are supposed to be pale pink, but the blooms for the last 2 years have been a pale green/ gold color. They are in full sun and seem quite healthy. Can I amend the soil ( like I do with aluminum sulfate for my hydrangeas) in order to get them to be pink?

We've never heard of a way to

By Almanac Staff

We've never heard of a way to change astilbe colors. The only solution to a brighter color is more direct sunlight. It's more likely that they did not put the right colors in your seed packet. You may need to replace or compliment with other colors.

My landscaper planted astilbe

By Linda Giles

My landscaper planted astilbe about 12 years ago. They are in a shade area, but some of them get morning sun and afternoon shade. Over the years the astilbe has gotten smaller and smaller, in terms of both the leaves and the bloom. I fertilized them this spring but only one (in the most sahde) bloomed. Any suggestions?

Astilbe leaves get smaller in

By Daveccccc

Astilbe leaves get smaller in dry soil. They like very organic soil that is moist. Also, best to fertilize in late summer/fall because this is when they form buds for next year.

My neighbor's 2 bushes are

By Roxeann Ford

My neighbor's 2 bushes are killing my astilbe and I would like to move it on the north side of the house. Is there a recommended time period in the fall to move it?

Astilbe are quite hearty. You

By Almanac Staff

Astilbe are quite hearty. You can transplant in early spring though fall is fine, too. Wait until the temperature cools and it's at least 6 to 8 weeks before the ground freezes.

I don't know which way to

By rhondarm

I don't know which way to plant my astillble. I don't know if its bark with lots of roots

Astilbes are shipped

By Almanac Staff

Astilbes are shipped bareroot.  Plant with the roots fanned slightly and pointing downwards, and with the eyes or growing points about an inch below soil level. Space plants about a foot apart.

I know this sounds dumb put

By kimmom

I know this sounds dumb put are the white tubular things roots or seems. ? Fine dark,stringy things on top or bottom ??? Which way is up ! LOL

Help! My astilbe is taking

By Florene

Help! My astilbe is taking over my garden! How do I control this plant?

Yes, astilbe has a spreading

By Almanac Staff

Yes, astilbe has a spreading habit which is what makes it great for ground cover. You need to divide to control the spread every 3 to 4 years. Divide your astilbe in the early spring. Also, deadhead the spent flowers so it won't self-seed and produce more flowers. Finally, use borders to maintain astilbe to a space.

should my astilbe bloom all

By laurajp

should my astilbe bloom all summer?

Astilbes bloom for 2 to 3

By Almanac Staff

Astilbes bloom for 2 to 3 weeks each. However, by selecting several varieties with different bloom times (early- to late-season), the floral display can be extended over 2 or 3 months.

My Astilbe was pink when I

By Debbie P

My Astilbe was pink when I bought it, now the chutes are dark in color. How can I get them back?

Hi, By chutes, I assume you

By Motieprime

Hi, By chutes, I assume you mean new flower chutes.. :) The flowers will appear more dark than expected until the little tiny flowers actually open. I had the same concern about mine at first. patience is rewarded. Hope yours brightens up too. :)

I have baby box elders all

By Jane H.P.

I have baby box elders all over my plant. Will soapy water damage the astilbe?

Soapy water is used to kill

By Almanac Staff

Soapy water is used to kill insects. Just make sure it's not too much. Use 1-2 tablespoons of soap per gallon of water.

Do astilbes have problems

By Bob Sachs

Do astilbes have problems with deer and/or rabbits?

I have a large astilbe garden

By Robert secor

I have a large astilbe garden and deer and rabbits have never bothered them while doing major damage to surrounding plants.

There is NO such thing as a

By Almanac Staff

There is NO such thing as a truly deer-resistant plant, however, astilbe is a plant that neither deer nor rabbit prefer to eat. Go for it!

Astilbes - in Winter

By Anonymous

Do Astilbes die out in the Winter months?

Astilbes have pretty spikes

By Catherine Boeckmann

Astilbes have pretty spikes in the winter if you wish to leave the dried flower heads. However, to answer your question, yes, they will die back to the soil line after a hard freeze. You can cut back the old foliage or leave the flower heads to clean up in the spring..

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