Astilbe: Growing & Caring Guide

Astilbe

Quick Overview

Plant Type: Perennial
Family: Saxifrage
Sun Exposure: Partial sun, shade
Watering: Needs to be watered deeply
Colors: Purple, pink, white, red
Size: 6 inches to 2 feet
Hardiness Zones: 3-9
Soil Type: moist, well-drained
Soil pH: Slightly acidic pH (6.0)
Propagation: Division
Toxicity: Non-toxic

The Astilbe, a classical favourite plant with purple and pink feathery plumes, is a native of Asia and North America, tucked beneath the canopy of woods. Over 20 different types of Astilbe are found, sometimes referred to as False Goat’s Beard. Astilbe is a great companion of Hostas, and it’s commonly found in areas with mild summers and wooded areas.

Astilbes have long spikes of feathery blooms and lush, green foliage. Being able to grow them properly means that all factors that impact its care are considered from the beginning. They need moist, well-drained soil, partial sun and plenty of water to thrive and reach maturity. Once you have successfully grown Astilbe, you also want to maintain its health through best practices.

As with any summer plant, you need to have a complete guide on their preferences to grow and maintain their return for the following years. This lovely plant will significantly add to your garden when you follow the growing and caring guide below.

Pink Astilbe

How to Grow & Care for Astilbe

Astilbe may not bloom simultaneously depending on which zone you are in when you plant it. The first thing to do is make sure the Astilbe that you have planted is appropriate for your zone so it will continue to grow. Understand that the Astilbe will bloom consistently for approximately five or six weeks once it starts blooming. These plants can grow several feet tall depending on the environment and how warm your area is when it is blooming. To grow prosperous and healthy plants, make sure you are meeting the requirements it needs to grow efficiently.

Soil Preferences

A healthy soil that is cool and has lots of drainages is ideal for Astilbe. If you have added compost to the soil, the Astilbe will thrive because the different organic matter in the compost gives the roots a chance to build a secure foundation. Organic compost will help keep roots warm in the soil and encourage natural water draining, which may be what you need if you have dry grass. If you have soil full of clay or drainage issues, you should add some rocks to the base of your plants so that the water can drain appropriately and keep off any excess water.

Sunlight

If you are in a subtropical climate, these plants need shade and a partial sun climate. The Astilbe only needs about four or five hours of direct sunlight, so a shaded environment is advisable. Too many hours of direct sunlight can cause significant damage and shock the Astilbe. The leaves are delicate and can be burned if they are in direct sunlight for too many consecutive hours. The only climate where this is possible is up north in the coldest areas, where the summer months are modest and not overwhelmingly hot.

Beautiful Bush of flowers Astilbe with a fluffy pink panicles

Water and Fertilizer

To get the most out of your Astilbe, you must ensure it has ample water, especially when it is warm outside. This plant needs water to survive, and it’s not hardy enough to withstand drought conditions. After several days without water, you may notice the Astilbe will start turning brown. Once it goes on the decline, it is hard to bring it back. This is why it is essential to keep your eye on the plant and ensure it stays moist.

You also want to fertilize the Astilbe at least once before the blooming begins to have enough nutrients to carry it through the blooming season. Fertilize again after the blooming starts to reduce so that it has nutrients to keep it stable while it is dormant. The biggest nutrient concern is Phosphorus, so you want to ensure that your fertilizer is phosphorus dominant.

Temperature

They prefer warm weather but moderately warm, not overly hot or dry areas. The areas where the weather is hot, groundbreaking, and only getting worse by the year allow the Astilbe to grow, but they usually bloom earlier during the year. They prefer warm summers, staying around the 80s or low 90s for highs during these months.

In some areas, it is okay if you see the plants bloom a second time as the hottest temperatures knock off and the refreshing feeling of fall starts to creep into the area. If your astilbe plants bloomed earlier in the season, you have a good chance of seeing them one more time, even if the blooming period isn’t as long.

Purple Astilbe

Maintaining Astilbe

Being able to take care of and have these plants return the following year means that you have a little maintenance to do to them outside of watering and fertilizing. With proper care and maintenance, your plants will stay healthy and return the following spring. Since Astilbes like to be planted together, you can grow multiples in an area or flower bed together.

Pruning

Once the warm weather starts to cool down, you must go ahead and start pruning this Astilbe. Correctly pruning and cutting these flowers back allows them to return larger and more robust the following year. If you do not cut back the Astilbe in the fall, you may find some dead pieces vulnerable to disease and infection. This could quickly turn the plant sick, until it dies off completely.

White Astilbe

Partner Planting

When you plant an Astilbe, you want to pair it with the right flowers and partners so that it doesn’t compete badly and can continue growing efficiently. Partner plants like Hydrangeas, Hosta, and Ferns are plants that balance out the Astilbe. They are great for the environment and encourage new growth in these plants. They also look great aesthetically against the Astilbe and give it the boost it needs to stand out among others.

Mulching Astilbe

Additional actions to take in the fall before winter approaches are mulching and warming the soil. Once Astilbe goes dormant for the winter, it needs a nice warm place to keep it safe throughout some coldest winters. Those that have had a nice warm place will return in the spring. If you maintain this mulch throughout the spring and summer, you could see a second bloom on the Astilbe before they go dormant in the fall.

When you mulch these plants, this keeps them warm and helps reduce competition for nutrients. If your Astilbe has to fight weeds for nutrients, they cannot reach their height potential or bloom as long.

Separating

After a few years of the astilbe returning, you may notice a bit of overcrowding in the garden. At this time, you want to start thinning the Astilbe and ensure you’re pulling at least half of the plants out. They spread through the roots, so you must dig deep and pull them out so they can be relocated.

colorful blooming astilbe in summer garden

Astilbe Varieties

There are several varieties of astilbe available for gardeners. All of them are perennials and love moist soil and partial shade. Here are some of the most common varieties:

  • Chocolate Shogun – A. thunbergii is a new cultivar with attractive dark purple-black foliage and pale pink flowers. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade in mild climates.
  • Fanal – A. x arendsii In addition to its beautiful color and scent, Fanal Astilbe is hardy in Zones 3-8 and is also deer resistant.
  • Maggie Daley – A. chinensis is an exceptionally colorful bloomer. These plants grow to about 22 inches tall and up to 18 inches in width.
  • Bridal Veil – A. x arendsii has large, white flowers that bloom from June to July.
  • Rheinland – A. x arendsii the leaves of these plants are green and glossy, but tend to turn darker during the summer months. Hardiness Zones 4-9

Prepare Your Garden for Astilbe

If you have decided that Astilbe is the right addition for your property, then it is time to plant and make sure you are taking care of this plant. Check the soil, and add any fertilizers you have on hand first. It is not a self-sufficient plant, so know that you will need to put some effort into this plant to keep it alive.

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