Astilbes are actually one of the easiest perennial flowers to grow. Astilbes plants have long-blooming, plume-like flowers in soft shades of pink, red, and white, and the plant flowers are also held on tall, stiff stalks that are above the airy foliage.

Furthermore, Astilbes plants are actually pest-free plants and the plant can light up the shade garden or soften a sunny spot, Astilbes plants are also a very low maintenance plants. This plant actually contains at least eighteen perennial species that are native to Asia and North America, although the type that is most common in gardens are cultivars of a hybrid known as A. x arendsii or Chinese astilbe (Astilbe chinensis).

Astilbes plants can either be planted in spring or fall, but make sure you avoid planting them in the hottest part of summer. Below is the basic information about Astilbes plants;

The botanical name:   The botanical name is Astilbe

The common names:  The common names are false spirea, Astilbe, false goat's beard.

The plant type:   This plant is a rhizomatous flowering perennial.

The mature size: The mature size is about six inches to two feet tall and 6-inch to 5-foot spread (although it depends on the species)

The sun exposure: The plant needs partial shade, full sun.

The soil type:  Astilbes plants do well in loamy soil.

The soil pH: This should be  6.0 (slightly acidic)

The blooming time: The blooming time is spring to summer.

The flower color: The flower colors are red, pink and white.

Plant hardiness Zones: USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8 

The native area: Astilbes plants are native to mountain ravines and woodlands n Asia and North America.

Astilbes plants varieties

There are different varieties of Astilbes plants. The following are the new varieties of Astilbes plants introduced along with newer breeds with darker foliage too.

-         The Astilbe x arendsii 'Bridal Veil' variety: This particular variety is a mid- to late-season bloomer with full white plumes.

-         The Astilbe x arendsii 'Fanal' variety: The Astilbe x arendsii 'Fanal' blooms early with blood-red flowers on bronze foliage.

-         The Astilbe x arendsii 'Rheinland' variety: The Astilbe x arendsii 'Rheinland' is another early bloomer in a rich pink, this variety is very hardy.

-         The Astilbe taquetii 'Purple Candles' variety: This particular variety has deep purple, chenille-like plumes.

-         The Astilbe chinensis 'Visions in Red' variety: This particular variety is a compact plant with bronze foliage and deep red flowers.

How to grow Astilbe

The seeds of Astilbe are available but the seeds are most times very difficult to germinate. In most case is easy to start with a plant or division. The Astilbe seeds need to be planted in the shade in hot, dry climates and also given plenty of water. Any of the varieties of Astilbe will bloom anywhere from mid-spring to late summer. Actually if you plant different varieties of Astilbe seeds you can prolong the bloom almost all season. The plumes will remain in the Astilbe plant flower for some weeks and it will continue to look good as they fade and dry on the Astilbe plant. Actually deadheading is not needed since the plant will not bloom again.

Light requirement

This plant really grow best in part shade, however it can also grow in full sun or full shade. The plant will bloom in full shade, although they prefer some sunlight in other to achieve their full size. Their foliage will burn in full sun in hot weather and dry soils, which means some relief from the afternoon sun is very compulsory.

Soil requirement

Like I said earlier the Astilbe plants actually prefer a slightly rich, moist soil, with a slightly acidic soil pH of about 6.0.

Water requirement

The Astilbe plants cannot handle prolonged periods of drought well. The Astilbe plant leaves will brown and dry, and if they are left dry for a very long time the plants will die.

Temperature and humidity requirement

Actually these plants are tough and they can really survive winter even in harsh climates. Immediately after the first hard frost you can put down 2 inches of mulch around the stem to regulate the soil temperature.

Fertilizer requirement

These plants actually need phosphorus to bloom, make sure you choose a fertilizer with the makeup of about 5-10-5 or 10-10-10. Make sure you rake the fertilizer into the soil 2 weeks before you plant the astilbe seeds or you can sprinkle a few granules onto the soil after the astilbe seed has been planted. Immediately the astilbe plant is established you can fertilize every spring when the soil is moist.

Pruning Astilbe

Astilbe plants actually required little maintenance. The plant flower heads will dry on the plant and it will remain attractive for many months. You can cut the Astilbe plant flowers whenever they start to look ragged or they can be left up for winter interest and cut back in the spring.

Astilbe propagation

You can divide the astilbe plants every 4 to 5 years to keep the astilbe plants healthy. Under normal conditions astilbe plants can grow quickly and they require more frequent division. Make sure you keep the astilbe plants well-watered after replanting and the plant will re-establish themselves quickly. What you need to do is to simply dig up the root ball in early spring then divide it into several equal-sized pieces with a spade then replant them at the same soil level.  Make sure you water them well immediately after planting the pieces.

Pest and disease control

Astilbe plants also face some pest and disease challenges. The following are some of the pest and diseases that attack Astilbe plants;

-         Powdery mildew on astilbe: This is actually a plant fungus that grows on the surface of the astilbe leaves. This particular disease leaches nutrients away from the plant.

How to manage and control it: This disease can be controlled with fungicides at the first sign.

-         Astilbe leaf spot disease: One of the symptoms of this disease is that the plant will develop circular dark brown spots with white to gray centers from the beginning of the lower leaves to the up of the stem. Some of the infected plant leaves will curl up and become dry.

How to manage and control it: One of the best defense is to keep the astilbe plants healthy by fertilizing and watering. Just make sure you water them in the morning so that the leaves will have the chance to dry before evening. Also make sure you remove the affected leaves once you noticed them. In the spring you can apply fungicides when new growth appears.

-         Asiatic Beetles on astilbe: This particular pest is reddish-brown and they begin to appear in late June. Actually some of adults really feed on plants but astilbe plants are their favorite.

How to manage and control it: You can use pesticides as a preventive measure, spray early in the season.

-         Black Vine Weevil on astilbe: This particular insect attacks the astilbe plants by eating their roots. The insects will devour the small roots and then move inside to the larger roots, and then the roots will be weakening until the plant dies.

How to manage and control it: One of the best defense is treating the soil with beneficial insects like pathogenic nematodes to control the larvae. Insecticides are the next defense if the infection is severe. You can spray every 3 weeks during May, June and July.

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