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How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Astilbe

Botanical Name Astilbe
Plant Type Perennial
Sun Exposure Partial shade to full shade
Soil Type Well-drained, moist loamy, sandy or clay
Soil pH Neutral to slightly acidic
Bloom Time Spring or summer, depending on variety
Flower Color Pink, purple, red and white hues
Hardiness Zones 4-8
Special Features Both deer and rabbit resistant

Astilbe, also called false spirea and false goat's beard, is an easy-care perennial that adds color, movement and texture to shade and woodland gardens. The feathery flower plumes provide beautiful color, and the fernlike foliage adds months of interest. They're an excellent companion to hostas, ferns and other shade-loving perennials. Both deer and rabbit resistant, astilbe is relatively trouble free.

Astilbe looks best and the flower plumes are most impressive when planted in groups of five or more. Learn more about when to plant astilbe roots, how to plant astilbe and other tips on growing astilbe here.

Types of Astilbe

Depending on the variety, astilbe may bloom in late spring to late summer. By selecting several different varieties, you can extend the bloom season for months. You can also choose a variety of flower colors and plant heights. Here are some popular astilbe varieties.

Astilbe Amethyst

Astilbe Amethyst: Early flowering variety makes a big impact when its feathery lavender plumes open in early to midsummer. Grows 24 to 36 inches tall.

Astilbe Rheinland

Astilbe Rheinland: Vibrant pink flowers add refreshing color to the summer shade garden. Blooming in early to midsummer, the plants grow 24-26 inches tall.

Astilbe Milk and Honey

Astilbe Milk and Honey: Later blooming variety puts on quite the show. The fluffy, creamy white flower heads are tipped in a fresh green hue. As time passes, the flowers change to soft pink. Blooming in mid to late summer, the plants grow up to 30 inches tall.

When to Plant Astilbe

Astilbe can be planted in the spring or the fall. If planting in the fall, give the plants several weeks to establish their roots before the first frost date in your area. Gardeners can order astilbe bareroots and plants from mail-order catalogs or buy potted astilbe plants from nurseries.

Where to Plant Astilbe

Astilbe are hardy perennials and can be grown in zones 4-8. You can determine your grow zone using our zone finder. Astilbe are shade perennials and perform best in dappled sunlight or light shade. They grow best in moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. Astilbe plants don't like to be waterlogged, nor do they like dry soils. You can improve your soil by mixing compost or well-aged manure into it.

Astilbe SAS image

How to Plant Astilbe Roots

Most gardeners plant astilbe roots or plants, rather than start astilbe from seed. The seeds may rot in the ground before they germinate. When planting bareroot plants, dig a hole that is twice the size of the root mass. Place the plant in the hole and fill with soil. The crown should be 1-2 inches below the soil level. Press the soil down and water well. Space the plants 18-24 inches apart.

Materials You'll Need

For digging, you'll need a shovel or trowel. If planting in containers, make sure the containers provide adequate drainage. Without drainage, the plants will rot. Astilbe benefit from an all-natural, slow-release fertilizer, such as Van Bourgondien 100% Natural Perennial Food.

Growing Astilbe

Astilbe is a low-maintenance shade perennial. Here are a few tips for successfully growing astilbe.

  • Be patient. Astilbe takes time to establish and often doesn't flower until the second year after planting.
  • Keep the roots moist, but not waterlogged. Astilbe benefits when watered regularly and deeply rather than frequent light waterings.
  • No deadheading is required. Removing the spent flowers does not encourage more blooming. Some gardeners remove the spent feathery plumes to give the plants a tidy appearance. The feathery plumes also can be left on the plant for winter interest.
  • Astilbe are heavy feeders and benefit from a slow-release, all-natural fertilizer twice a year.
  • Astilbe form clumps and can be divided in the spring every 3-4 years. Plant the astilbe divisions immediately after dividing in the spring.
  • Astilbe Flower FAQs

    What kinds of pests and diseases are associated with astilbe plants?
    Astilbe have few pests and disease problems. Japanese beetles may nibble on the plants, and powdery mildew could be a problem. Deer tend to leave astilbe alone.

    How long do astilbe bulbs take to grow?
    When planted as bareroots or potted plants, it may take astilbe a year before it blooms.

    Why are my astilbe flowers rotting?
    If astilbe are waterlogged or grown in overly wet conditions, they may rot. Likewise, if grown in dry conditions or too much sun and high temperatures, the leaves may brown.

    What kinds of plants or flowers grow well with astilbe?
    Astilbe grow well with other shade or woodland plants, including ferns, hosta, and other shade perennials.

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