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Sometimes called false spirea or false goat's beard, Astilbe is a beautiful woodland shade perennial. Available in a range of colours, Astilbe flowers open in lovely plumes of red, pink, white or lavender that add lots of movement and dynamism to the garden. Their foliage may be green or gold, shiny or matte, and is certain to stand out as much as the fluffy blooms. Astilbe is deer resistant, and, thanks to its relation to native woodland plants, it grows amazingly well in American gardens. Astilbe is a true must-have for any shady spot, and perfect for planting beneath trees or along shaded paths.

All You Need to Know About Astilbes

When astilbes were introduced into Europe from the Orient in the mid-19th century, their beautiful flowering plumes reminded palace gardeners of popular spring-blooming spirea shrubs. Still to this day, in both Europe and America, they are often called garden or florists' spirea. In Holland, astilbes have long been the mainstay of summer perennial gardens. They're so easy to grow and require so little attention, you'll even find them blooming brightly along roads and canals. Planted en masse, they're a special delight. While you'll find them blooming in sunny spots, they are most often chosen for their unique ability to grow with vigour and bloom profusely in shade or semi-shade. While their flowering stems bloom with colourful charm for several weeks in late spring and early summer, their beauty doesn't end when the colour fades. The dried plumes turn an elegant amber-tan and continue to provide garden charm all through the summer and into the fall. Meanwhile, the mounds of high-gloss, dark green foliage provides an extremely attractive ground cover. Bundle your astilbe flowers with Breck's selection of full-shade perennial bulbs to round out the perfect shade garden.

How To Pronounce 'Astilbe'

Astilbe pronunciation is among the most common questions regarding this plant! Astilbe is pronounced "ah-STILL-bee." The name comes from the Greek term, "stilbos," which means "glittering." Like many Greek terms, the "be" at the end is pronounced, and not used to make the center vowel long.

Why Buy Astilbe Flowers?

Astilbe are often thought of as workhorse-style shade garden plants—when something else won't grow, fill in with astilbe! However, these plants are so much more than performance. Their feathery flowers and glossy foliage really bump up the texture and movement in your shade garden, and those flowers last and last.

That said, the utilitarian aspects of astilbe are not to be ignored. These plants are deer-resistant and truly low-maintenance. They're also tolerant of even the heaviest shade, making them ideal for use along tree-lined paths or in woody areas. Their lineage, coming from native American plants, means that they'll perform well in poor or even slightly boggy soil.

When To Buy Astilbe Flowers

Astilbe plants are typically sold as potted or bare-root plants, and should be planted in spring after the final frost date. That means that you should buy your astilbe in spring, too! If you buy astilbe online, they'll be shipped to you at the right time to plant.

Is Astilbe a Perennial?

Astilbe are perennial plants, and are hardy down to Zone 3. This means that most astilbe plants will survive the winter in nearly all of the United States. To keep your astilbe plants coming back year after year, be sure to winterize your astilbe plants to keep them happy over the cold months. Winterizing astilbe is quite simple!

A few tips for caring for astilbe plants after flowering:
  • After your flowers fade, pinch them back. However, leave the foliage on your plants to allow them to collect sunlight, and create energy, to last over winter. Keep watering your astilbe throughout the late summer.
  • After the first frost, go ahead and cut your astilbe down to the ground, using a sharp pair of pruners. You can cut these stems all the way down-they'll come back next year!
  • If you live in a very cold climate, mulch over your astilbe for the winter, to provide extra insulation.
  • In springtime, restart your watering and fertilization regiment when these plants begin to poke out of the ground.
  • With just a bit of care, you'll see your astilbe coming back year after year!

    Are Astilbe Plants for Shade?

    Astilbe are some of our favourite plants for shade. While astilbe can grow in full sun in cooler climates, or in full shade, this perennial performs best when it receives a few hours of sunlight in the morning, then spends the afternoon in cool shade. Partial shade or dappled shade is the best bet for optimal performance. However, your astilbe will grow in full shade—it just may not bloom as plentifully. The low light needs of astilbe make them some of the most popular plants for shade.

    What Plants Go Well With Astilbe?

    Astilbe are ideal plants for woodland shade gardens, and work beautifully in both casual cottage looks and more formal, neat gardening applications. So, what plants go well with astilbe? Choose companion plants that have similar needs. Plants that prefer light to full shade, paired with well-draining soil, will perform well with astilbe. And, choose plants that fit your personal sense of style.

    Here are a few of our favourite astilbe companion plants:
  • Hostas—Hostas are often considered foliage plants, but they provide lovely flowers in pink, purple, or white bell shapes. Pair large, leafy hostas with stately astilbe to create a striking contrast.
  • Coral Bells—Coral bells, also known as heuchera, are another shade-loving plant, and their needs match nearly perfectly to the needs of astilbe. These foliage plants grow in shades of dark and light green, rust, and gold.
  • Ferns—Astilbe are, themselves, angiosperms—which makes them perfect bedmates for ferns. You'll love pairing the soft, feathery plumage of astilbe with the delicate, fluffy foliage of ostrich ferns. Choose taller ferns to go with shorter astilbe varieties, for a nice mix of heights.
  • Hellebores—Hellebores, or Lenten rose, bloom earlier in the season than Astilbe. Create this plant pairing, and experience a long season of foliage and colour.
  • Bleeding Hearts—Bleeding heart plants, or dicentra, area some of the most beloved woodland type shade plants. Combine these delicate flowers with astilbe's soft, plumey ones for a pleasant mix of textures.

  • Bundle your astilbe flowers with Breck's selection of full-shade perennial bulbs to round out the perfect shade garden.

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