Astilbe

Astilbe arendsii
'Fanal'

Long lived marginal plants native to China and Japan. Fully hardy and long lasting if growing conditions are good. Provides magnificent plumes of spring flowers that brighten up any corner, prefers dappled shade and damp soil. Will thrive in a bog garden or as an edging plant with water or any damp shady area.

Family: Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage family)
Botanical Name: Astilbe
Common Names: False goat's beard, False Spiraea

Foliage: Semi evergreen divided leaves, often tinged with bronze or purple.

Flowers: Tall dense spikes of plume-like flowers appear on stems above the foliage. Shades of white, pink, red or lilac.

Flowering Period: June to September.

Soil: Moisture-retentive and rich in humus.

Conditions
: Full sun or semi-shade. Any aspect, exposed or sheltered.

Habit: Bushy. Vigorous clump forming.

Type: Rhizomatous herbaceous perennial.

Hardiness: Fully hardy in UK.

Planting and Growing Astilbe

An excellent plant for the waterside and other damp places but not actually growing in water.
Prefers a cool, moist position and can tolerate light shade.

Good margin plants for ponds, pools or streams. Also an ideal choice for bog gardens or damp woodland areas.

Taking Care of Astilbe

Keep soil moist at all times. Do not let them dry out or you will loose them. Most varieties don't require staking.

The spent seed heads can provide an attractive feature in winter. Cut the plants down to ground level in early spring. Apply a mulch of compost, leaf-mould or well rotted manure in the spring, to promote growth and conserve ground moisture.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest Free. Can be subject to powdery mildew.

Propagating Astilbe

Divide clumps every 2 or 3 years in early spring. Ensure each new piece retains two or three developing growth-buds.

Popular Varieties of Astilbe Grown in the UK

There are many cultivars with attractive ferny foliage and plumes of flowers, ranging in colour from crimson red to various shades of pink, lilac and white.

One of the most popular garden varieties are the Astilbe x arendsii hybrids, which have ferny leaves and feathery plumes and come in a wide range of rich colours:

  • A. arendsii 'Bressingham Beauty' pink plumes. Height 2-3ft (60-90cm)
  • A. arendsii 'Fire' red plumes.
  • A. arendsii 'Deutschland' tall white plumes.
  • A. arendsii 'Federsee' rose plumes.
  • A. arendsii 'Irrlicht' frothy white plumes. Height and spread: 20in (50cm).
  • A. arendsii 'Fanal' deep red plumes, Height: 2ft (60cm).
  • A. arendsii 'Ostrich Plume' with lovely pink pendent flower heads.

The Astilbe chinensis var. davidii hybrids are some of the tallest varieties, growing up to 4ft (1.2m) tall:

  • A. davidii 'Tamarix' lilac-rose.
  • A. davidii 'Salland' pale pink.
  • A. davidii 'Salmon Queen' salmon.

A. taquetii superba tall lilac-purple spikes from July to August. Height up to 6ft (2m).

Astilbe 'Professor van der Wielen' tall plumes of long lasting creamy flowers. Attractive seed heads. Height: 4ft (1.2m).

Low growing varieties include:

Astilbe 'Bronce Elegans' finely divided, bronze-tinted leaves, with salmon-pink cream flowers. Height: 12in (30cm).

A. simplicifolia 'Sprite' with feathery, pale-pink plumes. Height 1ft (30cm).

A. crispa 'Lilliput pink plumes. Height 8in (20cm).

A. chinensis 'Pumila' dark mauve-pink flowers above reddish green, broadly cut leaves. Height 9-12in (22-30cm).

A. simplicifolia compacta attractive bronzed leaves. Height up to 8in (20cm).

A. glaberrima saxosa dark foliage with sprays of tiny pale pink flowers. Height 4in (10cm).