by Jennifer Poindexter
If you’re growing a shaded garden, you must consider how to grow astilbe. This is a gorgeous flower which comes in a variety of colors and sizes. Plus, it’s a perennial flower. Therefore, you plant it one time, and it can provide beauty for years to come. If you’re interested in adding unique beauty to your landscape, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m going to walk you through all you must know to grow astilbe around your home. If you care for it properly, it could become a gorgeous fixture in your garden area. Here’s everything you must know to grow astilbe.
Growing Conditions for Astilbe
When I tell you, astilbe is a straight-forward flower to grow, I hope you’ll consider giving this plant some consideration. There isn’t much to growing or caring for it.
Astilbe is a unique flower because it has foliage that’s jagged and similar to that of a fern. However, the blooms are puffy and vibrant with color. They explain why the plant is also known as false goat’s beard.
There are many varieties of astilbe which will impact the color of the blooms and the height of the plant. This can also influence the bloom times. Most astilbe come in varieties which bloom in pink, purple, or white. They can grow to be anywhere from a few inches tall up to four feet.
This plant can bloom from spring through the summer months. Again, this will vary by variety. However, each bloom season lasts approximately one to two months. If you plan your varieties right, you could have astilbe blooming around your garden for months on end. Once you’ve determined this is the right flower for you, let’s discuss where these flowers can grow successfully.
Astilbe grows well in planting zones 3 through 9. They prefer shade, but the blooms prosper if they receive a couple hours of speckled sunlight each day.
If you must grow astilbe in full sun, they’ll need more water than those growing in the shade. We’ll discuss this further when learning how to properly care for this plant.
After the lighting situation is established, ensure you plant astilbe in well-draining soil. It’s recommended to amend the soil one foot beneath the planting area. This will make it easier for the plant to spread its roots and become firmly established in its growing area.
If you can provide the right amount of shade, with dappled sunlight, and quality, well-draining soil, astilbe should grow well for you.
How to Plant Astilbe
Planting astilbe isn’t overly complicated. It’s recommended that you begin with either purchased seedlings or with divisions from a mature plant.
Starting astilbe from seed is difficult as the seeds have a low germination rate and frequently rot prior to germination. You can plant astilbe twice a year. If you choose to plant in the spring be sure to wait until all threat of frost is over.
Otherwise, you can plant this flower during the fall prior to frost. Once you have an ideal growing location picked out, begin amending the soil. It should be amended up to a foot beneath where the flowers are being planted.
When planting, ensure the roots are beneath the soil while the crown is at soil level. The amended and aerated soil should provide proper conditions for the roots to spread and strengthen beneath the ground. Be sure to provide approximately two feet of space between each plant to ensure they have room to grow and breathe.
Now that your astilbe is in the ground, it’s time to discuss how to properly care for the plant. Hopefully, this will encourage it to thrive under your care.
Caring for Astilbe
If you’re a gardener who enjoys plants which don’t require a ton of extra care, astilbe could be exactly what you’ve been searching for. This plant requires water, fertilizer, and dividing. If you can perform these few tasks, they should do well in your garden area. To begin, let’s discuss proper watering techniques to sustain astilbe. It’s recommended to practice deep watering when growing these flowers.
Deep watering means that you water the plants for a longer period of time but for fewer days of the week. By practicing the deep watering method, it ensures the roots receive water and the ground surrounding the plant is saturated as well.
However, as the water is absorbed, the plant’s roots will dig deeper into the soil to find more water. In turn, this creates healthier and stronger plants. The important thing to note, when using this watering method for astilbe, is that mulch is necessary. Astilbe enjoys growing conditions which provide consistently moist soil.
Mulch will help retain moisture around the plant. Therefore, it helps keep the soil consistently moist without extra effort on your part. It will also help to deter weeds from growing around your garden areas, and add nutrients to your soil.
If you plant astilbe in sunnier conditions, be sure to test the soil between deep watering sessions. Insert your finger into the dirt. When your finger is dry to your first knuckle, add more water. The sunnier the planting location, the more frequently you must water this flower.
The next important thing to do when caring for this plant is to fertilize. You won’t need to do this on a regular basis. Instead, apply a fertilizer that’s high in phosphorus prior to blooming in the spring or summer. This will increase the number of blooms you receive from your plant.
In the fall, add a fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen to increase the number of blooms the next spring. After you have a fertilizing routine in place, let’s discuss dividing your plants. Once every three years, astilbe will become old and overcrowded.
A great way to set the reset button is dividing a larger plant. Dig the entire plant up. Be sure you remove the entire root system. Use your spade to divide the plant at least three to four times. Each section must have a portion of the root system.
Transplant the new divisions in desirable growing conditions. The last thing to mention is you shouldn’t waste your time deadheading this plant. Instead, when it turns brown and the blooms have gone to seed, use your shears to cut the entire plant back. It will encourage new growth.
In the fall, you’ll need to cut astilbe back anyway. This will protect the foliage and the roots over winter. Wait until the first hard frost has occurred before heavily pruning the plant for winter.
Once this has taken place, add a blanket of mulch around the base of the plant. This will stabilize the soil temperature around the astilbe plant and give it every opportunity to regrow the next spring.
These are the few things you must do to care for astilbe properly. Get them each down pat to ensure your flowers return for many years.
Garden Pests and Diseases Which Threaten Astilbe
I told you in the beginning that astilbe was an extremely easy plant to incorporate into your growing space. It doesn’t require much to create ideal growing conditions, is easy to plant, and doesn’t need a lot of extra care.
Now, to make things even better, you’ll be happy to know the plant has no enemies. It doesn’t typically struggle with pests or diseases.
Rabbit and deer even avoid this flower once it’s mature. Be advised that while it’s in its younger stages, rabbits might try to nibble the foliage.
However, once it’s fully developed, they lose interest in it. If you’re concerned about rabbits attacking your smaller plants, you could place fencing around them or cover them in bird netting to make nibbling a challenge.
With this information, you should be prepared to add this plant to your grow space. Astilbe would be a great choice for a perennial garden or for someone who is new to gardening.
Hopefully, you now feel well-prepared to tackle this new gardening adventure. Take this information and use it well to add growing astilbe to your gardening resume.