Astilbe (Astilbe) – The Complete Guide

Even gardening beginners will receive envious glances over the garden fence with the magnificent astilbe.

In order for the astilbe to transform sunny, semi-shady to shady areas into a summery sea of flowers, the perennial has only a few care requirements.

Care tips

If the astilbe, also known as false goat’s beard or false spirea, finds a semi-shady location with fresh, moist, nutritious, and slightly acidic soil, half of the way to vital growth is already done.

Thus, the care program proceeds in a regulated manner:

  • Keep the soil constantly moist with lime-free water.
  • Fertilize organically every 3-4 weeks from April to August or apply slow-release fertilizer in April and June.
  • Prune the astilbe close to the ground either in autumn or early spring.

If astilbes thrive in the bed, you only need to care for winter protection in the form of a layer of leaves, straw, or brushwood in the year of planting.

In contrast, wrap containers annually with bubble wrap and place them on a wooded block.

Which Location is Suitable for Astilbe?

A look at its natural habitat shows us that the astilbe feels very comfortable in the semi-shady shelter of mighty deciduous and coniferous trees.

The lush perennial tolerates sunny locations provided that the soil is well moist and yet without waterlogging. Settle the astilbe in tufts along the edge of the grove, at the edge of a pond, or along a stream where the perennial can avoid the blazing midday sun.

What Soil Does the Astilbe Need?

The astilbe always proves its reputation as a prime example of a shade perennial when this soil condition is available to it:

  • Nutrient-rich and humus
  • Fresh to moist, without danger of waterlogging
  • Well-drained, preferably loamy, without a high sand content
  • Neutral to slightly acidic pH value of 5.5 to 6.0

As a substrate in the pot, we recommend a high-quality compost-based potting soil, with little or no peat content.

The addition of a handful of perlite or lava granules improves permeability and prevents compaction.

When is Flowering Time for Astilbes?

The variety you choose will define the flowering time of astilbe. Popular species, such as the Japanse astilbe (Astilbe japonica) and varieties derived from it, bloom from June to July.

Crowd pleasers, such as the dainty Chinese astilbe (Astilbe chinensis), present colorful flower panicles from August to September.

The particularly valuable group of Astilbe Arendsii hybrids does the same and, in mild weather, sometimes even lasts until October.

If you want to have even more choice when it comes to flowering time, you should also take a look at other varieties of spirea shrubs.

Pruning Astilbe Properly

If you cut back the perennial close to the ground after flowering in the fall, this measure will save it the feat of seed formation.

At this point, however, it should not go unmentioned how decorative the seed stalks of dazzling astilbe are in the early winter garden. If you do not want to miss this feast for the eyes, prune the plant only in late winter.

Watering Astilbe

The first premise for the perfectly regulated water balance is not to let the root ball of splendid astilbe dry out at any time.

Therefore, especially during the summer flowering period, check the moisture content of the soil daily by thumb test. If the substrate feels dry on the surface, water the plant.

Apply soft rainwater or decalcified tap water directly to the root disc. But be careful, as the flower beauty will resent a targeted jet with the garden hose.

Fertilizing Astilbe Properly

The nutrient requirements of astilbes are in no way inferior to the high water requirements.

In order for the perennial to produce opulent flowers and foliage, it must not run out of energy. Therefore, fertilize the astilbe organically with compost, horn shavings, or horse manure every 3-4 weeks from May to August.

Alternatively, apply a slow-release fertilizer at the end of April/beginning of May and top it up again in July, depending on the preparation you choose.

Overwintering Astilbe

Adult astilbe is completely hardy, so there is no need to take special precautions for healthy overwintering.

That said, we recommend light winter protection in the planting year, as young astilbe still needs to work up frost hardiness first. Therefore, cover the plant before the first frost with leaves, straw, coniferous twigs, or garden fleece.

In a container, the root ball is also at risk in later years due to its exposed position. As a precaution, wrap the container in bubble wrap. To prevent the cold from penetrating the root ball from below, place a wooden block underneath.

The substrate should receive a layer of autumn leaves or peat dust.

Propagating Astilbes

For ambitious amateur gardeners, it is a matter of honor to carry out the propagation of their perennials on their own.

In this respect, astilbes are delightfully uncomplicated. To grow more specimens, dig up the root ball in the fall or spring and place it on a stable base.

Using a freshly sharpened knife or spade, divide the sturdy rhizome into two or more segments. At the new location, plant the root section while maintaining the previous planting depth.

As long as a segment has at least 2 buds, it will quickly turn into a vigorous young plant.

How to Transplant Astilbes

At the latest, when astilbe becomes bare from the inside, you can’t avoid replanting it.

To do this, dig up the root ball in spring or fall. Cut off the parts that have become bare with a sharp, disinfected knife. Plant the remaining segments either in the previous location or in a new spot as deep as before.

Is Astilbe Poisonous?

Astilbes are not only a feast for the eyes of young and old, but also provide a rich pollen and nectar buffet for bumblebees, bees, and butterflies.

In the planting plan for the family garden and the green kingdom designed close to nature, the astilbe has thus earned a regular place. This is all the more true because there are no toxic substances in its plant parts.

Yellow Leaves

If the leaves of astilbes turn yellow, it is usually a reaction to excessively calcareous water. If lime accumulates in the soil, this prevents the absorption of important nutrients.

The result is leaf chlorosis, which shows up in yellow leaves. Immediately switch the water supply to collected rainwater, decalcified tap water, or pond water.

Beautiful Varieties

  • Astilbe Arendsii ‘Bridal Veil’: A premium quality hybrid variety with white flower clusters and tightly upright habit to 40 inches (100 cm).
  • Astilbe Arendsii ‘Fanal’: Captivates with dramatic appearance thanks to blood-red flower panicles above pinnate, glossy green foliage. This variety grows 24-28 inches (60-70 cm) high.
  • Astilbe Arendsii ‘Astary Pink’: A magnificent dwarf variety that unfolds its pink flower festival in containers and small gardens. The growth height is only 10-12 inches (25-30 cm).
  • Astilbe Arendsii ‘White Gloria’: A charming astilbe, ideal for semi-shaded to shaded locations. This variety also makes a beautiful vase decoration. the growth height is 24-32 inches (60-80 cm).
  • Astilbe japonica ‘Younique Salmon’: This noble beauty scores with salmon-colored flowers above shimmering foliage. It grows 16-18 inches (40-50 cm) high.