Last Updated on December 16, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford
Astilbe plants are an excellent choice for gardeners to add color to a shade garden and flower heads also make good cut flowers.
Gardeners always want options for what to plant in a shade garden that will brighten the dark areas and provide color in a flower garden. Astilbes are a great choice both for their ability to tolerate shade, but also for the lovely cut flowers that they do well.
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Cultivation Information and How to Grow Astilbe
Botanical and Common Name
Astilbe is often called False Spirea because of the feathery flower clusters the plant produces.
Astilbes are perennial plants that grow from zones 3 or 4 through 8.
Bloom Time and Color
Astilbes bloom from late summer through early fall and are available in a wide variety of colors including lavender, purple, red, salmon, pink and white.
The smooth, often glossy leaves are in a dense cluster at the base of the plant, often described as “fern-like” and create a pleasant look in the shade garden.
Astilbe foliage grows in a rounded clump, but the flower stalks provide a vertical accent that is unique for many shade garden plants.
Astilbes can grow 2-3′ tall but many dwarf forms are available that only grow a few inches tall providing gardeners the ability to use several cultivars in the shade garden bed.
Astilbe plants are not fussy and grow easily, however they are not drought-tolerant and should be watered regularly.
Pests or Diseases
Astilbes do not have any major insect or disease problems, but the foliage will turn brown in the heat of summer if the plant doesn’t get enough water.
Astilbes are most easily propagated through division, which should be done every two or three years when clumps get overgrown. Many of the cultivars will not come true to seed although some of the species Astilbes may set seed.
Using Astilbe in the Garden
Astilbes prefer part shade to full shade and need consistently moist soil so gardeners should not let the plants dry out completely.
The fine foliage of astilbe plants contrast nicely with the broad leaves of hosta, elephant ears or caladium. Gardeners can also choose colorful foliage plants to aid in brightening the shade border such as coral bells and coleous. Alternatively, choose flowering shade plants such as polemonium or one of these flowering shade-loving shrubs
Seasons of Interest
Astilbes provide three seasons of interest through the year.
Astilbes are nice in flower arrangements and can be dried for indoor arrangements in the winter.
Astilbe plants have a lot to offer shade gardeners because of the attractive foliage and beautiful flower clusters. Landscapers may just fall in love with these easy to grow perennials.
Pictures of Astilbe Plants