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 have an Astilbe that has

By Cynthia van den Berg on March 31

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.

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 on April 17

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

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.

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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