Botanical name: Astilbe
With fluffy flower spikes in shades of red, pink or white, astilbes put on an impressive summer show. They also provide winter interest if the seedheads are left in place. There is a wide choice, from large flamboyant specimens for spacious borders to compact cultivars for containers, and everything in between. Astilbes are all fully hardy and thrive in damp, shady locations, bog gardens and pondsides.
Astilbe flowers come in shades of white, pink or red. They are plume-like, sometimes dense and sometimes airy. The stems are upright and, like the leaves, can be tinged red or bronze. They hold themselves in a stately, upright fashion and do not need staking.
Astilbes like rich, damp soil that contains lots of organic matter. They perform best in light shade, but will cope in a sunny spot as long as the soil stays damp through summer.
These vigorous plants don’t grow well in very poor soil. They also dislike dry conditions, even in summer. The leaves may scorch in hot sunny weather, so position them where they’ll get some midday shade.
Did you know?
Astilbes are susceptible to vine weevils, whose grubs eat the roots. The most effective treatment is a biological control, which should be watered around the base of plants in late summer.
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