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Astilbe: favourite of many gardeners

30 January 2012
Astilbe: favourite of many gardeners

A long time favourite of gardeners, Astilbe are easy to grow with showy, colorful flowers and interesting foliage. Members of the Saxifragaceae family, Astilbe are often referred to as False Spirea. They prefer a woodland-type site with a rich organic soil that is well drained but moist at all times. Allowing an Astilbe to dry out will result in browning foliage or even death of the plant. As long as there is plenty of moisture the multitude of varieties have beautiful airy plumes of attractive showy flowers. Even when not in bloom there is lots of garden interest from the lacy fern-like foliage that is often heavily incised and adds a great textural element to any shady area. or one that has filtered sun exposure. Planting Astilbe in full shade is possible but will result in a less copious display of bloom. Flower colors are shades of white, pink, red and purple and foliage ranges from shades of green to bronzes and burgundies often changing as the plants mature and the season progresses. Astilbe are variable in size with cultivars available as compact as 6" in height to imposing architectural specimens as tall as 6'.

With such a range of attributes it is easy to situate Astilbe as a mass planting, a single specimen plant or as a key element in containers. Astilbe are great companions to Hosta where their lacy foliage acts as a great foil to the more solid appearance of that garden stalwart. Astilbe are hardy from zones 4-9, often resistant to deer and/or rabbits, and are an absolute magnet for butterflies. Delay end of season clean up until early spring in order to provide an extra degree of winter protection.

Astilbe 'Country and Western' (PP 14969)

'Country and Western' is one of the newest members of the popular Music series of Astilbe hybrids which are selected for their magnificent displays of large, fluffy flower heads and clean crisp foliage. 'Country and Western' presents a wonderful show of soft pink feathery blooms in early summer held confidently above shiny green foliage. They reach a mature height of 15" - 18" with a similar spread.

Astible 'Sister Theresa'

Astible 'White Sensation'

Astilbe 'Vision in Red' (PP 11965)

A hardy and robust selection from the very popular variety 'Visions'. In midsummer deep red buds open to display dark purplish red flowers carried on wonderful red stems. Foliage color is an interesting bronze green. Plants reach a height of 18"-24" and form a lovely mound 12"-18" in diameter.

Astilbe 'Sister Theresa' ('Zuster Theresa')

A great addition to the Astilbe selections, 'Sister Theresa' has lovely, soft salmon-pink plumes that are large and numerous and appear in early to mid summer. The finely cut foliage is a mid to dark green. Plants are about 2' in height with a spread of 15" to 24".

Astilbe 'Radius'

A gorgeous new variety! The lacy foliage is a stunning deep dark red when it emerges in the spring which matures to an attractive dark green as the season progresses. The flowers are a glowing deep rose-red that contrast interestingly with their dark red buds. These plants are often awash with fluttering butterflies. 'Radius' reach a mature height of 24" with a nicely compact spread of 16".

Astilbe 'White Sensation'

A sensational new release, this selection boasts glossy deeply incised foliage topped by graceful, feathery pure white plumes in July and August. 'White Sensation' is a compact grower with a mature height of only 18" and a spread of 12". Every garden needs white flowers to lighten up the shady area and act as foils for their more colorful neighbors. A block of white will give the eye a place to rest and result in a more pleasing display of foliage and bloom.