Astilbes are great value plants as they bring colour and texture to those tricky, damp and shady parts of the garden.
They produce masses of attractive ferny foliage, and elegant plumes of feathery flowers emerge from late-spring through the summer months. These fluffy plumes are give them their common name of ‘false goatsbeard’. They come in varying sizes from small front-of-border plants, to tall varieties up to 2m in height.
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Take a look at our handy astilbe Grow Guide, below.
Where to grow astilbes
Astilbes need to grow in a dappled or part shady location in moisture retentive soil to thrive. They will not tolerate dry soils. They can however tolerate more sun, as long as the soil doesn’t dry out, so make good plants for a bog garden or waterside planting.
Dig a generous hole, bigger than the pot, and add some well-rotted manure. Keep newly planted astilbes well watered until established.
Astilbes are reliable perennials, but they do benefit from being divided every few years. This will regenerate your plant and increase your stock. Divide astilbes in the autumn after flowering or in early spring. Pot up your divisions before planting out.
Astilbes are relatively trouble-free. They’re one of those rare plants that pests seem to dislike, but can be prone to powdery mildews.
Caring for astilbes
Astilbes are easy to care for, provided they’re growing in the right growing conditions. They don’t need deadheading. Simply cut back plants after flowering and divide every three or four years.
Five astilbe varieties to try
- Astilbe ‘Deutschland’ – shorter than other astilbes, and flowers a little earlier. Plants have almost shiny foliage and bear masses of pure white flowers
- Astilbe ‘Rheinland’ – a compact variety, with dark green/bronze leaves and masses of light pink flowers. It’s perfect for growing towards the front of shady borders
- Astilbe ‘Heart and Soul’ – a compact, mounded variety with light purple flowers in midsummer that have a slight scent
- Astilbe ‘Younique Carmine’ – a compact variety, bearing dark green leaves and masses of dark pink flowers. It’s perfect for growing towards the front of shady borders with other shade- and moisture-loving plants such as hostas and primulas
- Astilbe ‘Federsee’ – has rosy-pink flowers and is a compact variety, suitable for the front or middle or a border where it would combine well with hostas and primulas