Astilbe is a shade loving perennial which also goes by the common names False Spiraea and Meadow sweet. The most common one for the home garden is A. arendsii. This is a carefree, pest resistant plant with lovely, lacy leaves and feather-like flower clusters which tower over the mound of airy foliage. They range in height from two to four feet tall.
Astilbe comes in pink, red, white and a recent addition to this group of Astilbes readily available to home gardeners is a rather pretty lavender colored one appropriately named Amethyst. A late summer bloomer three to four feet high, Amethyst has a pretty, light purple plume mixing well in any shade and dapple shaded garden with Hosta, Helleborus and Columbine.
Deutschlandis is another common cultivar, this one an early white bloomer standing one and a half feet tall. Peach blossom is two feet tall with darling light salmon pink flower clusters. For a bright red flower and bronze colored leaves choose Fanal. Ostrich Plume, standing three and a half feet tall, has drooping pink blooms in mid to late season.
Astilbe prefers moist, humus-rich soil like that found in the forest. Leaf mold does wonders for this plant. They will flourish under dappled shade but can tolerate morning full sun if provided with ample moisture. They look great inter-planted with Bleeding Hearts, Meadow Rue and Bergenia. They like to be divided every four to five years and are hardy in USDA zones 4-8. Astilbe flowers make wonderful additions to dried flower arrangements.
There is no doubt Astilbe is a pretty plant and won’t give gardeners much trouble regarding pests and care needs. A shady perennial bed would not be complete without the easy-going, lovely Astilbe.