Astilbe Perennials

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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There's a good reason that astilbe perennials are so popular. It's hardy, requires little maintenance, and does well in partial shade. Furthermore, it's exceedingly attractive, elegant, and graceful. Astilbe perennials bloom into fluffy spires off a single stem that reaches above fernlike foliage.

Plant heights range from several inches to six feet, but most are from about two to three feet. Blooms range in color from pale yellow to pink to deep red. Astilbe grow quickly, do well cut (both fresh and dried), and bloom from spring through early or middle summer, depending on region. Astilbe do well enough in deeper shade but ideally will have dappled light. They also thrive near water, because they are such thirsty plants.

The impulse to put astilbe almost anywhere and everywhere is understandable. With a relatively shallow root system and their penchant for partial shade, astilbe perennials are well suited for small corners and beds on the edge of woods. Informal settings, which are growing more and more popular, include using the smaller varieties as ground cover--the tiny Sprite (Astilbe simplicifolia) would do especially well here--and in the company of other partial shade lovers, including periwinkle, hosta, columbines, and lily-of-the-valley.

Variety among Astilbe Perennials

Perhaps one of the most dramatic astilbe is the Red Sentinel (Astilbe japonica), which stands very effectively about 24 inches tall among hosta and ferns in woods gardens. Peach Blossom (Astilbe x rosea) has light-pink bloom and wide-cluster flowers. It, unlike most of its brothers and sisters, has a light fragrance. Similar to it is Queen Alexandra, which has darker rose-pink flowers.

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