Family: Saxifragaceae

These herbaceous perennials form clumps, the foliage growing about 30 cm (12 in) high. They have attractive, fern-like foliage and large, branched clusters of showy, feathery flowers in white, pink or red. In some varieties the young foliage is a beautiful coppery red. The flower stems grow vertically to 1 m (3 ft) or more.


The modern astilbes are generally hybrids of A. chinensis, A. japonica and A. grandis. All flower in summer in colours ranging from white, salmon and pink to dark crimson. Most widely grown are cultivars of Astilbe x arendsii, many of which were bred in Europe, where they are widely grown and among the most popular plants for moist places. They are generally dwarf or low-growing, compact plants and come in a wide range of colours - all shades of pink, plus red shades and white.


Generally these plants need a cool, moist position in partial shade, but in cool zones they can also be planted in the open, provided the soil is rich and retains moisture. A soil pH value of around 6-7 is recommended, and the soil should contain a large amount of organic matter. For best effect, space plants 30 cm (12 in) apart, with the crown at soil level, in clumps of five or more. Astilbes require frequent watering during dry times from spring onwards (luring growth and flowering. Mulch each plant to conserve moisture and apply 25 g (1 oz) of fertilizer per plant during late spring and summer to encourage rapid growth and abundant flowers. After flowering, cut spent stems to ground level and remove dead leaves. In severe Climates, a mulch of loose, open compost over the clumps helps to protect the crowns from frost. To propagate, divide the clumps in late winter, ensuring that each new plant has a sound crown and roots.


Zone 6 and above.

Aster      Astrantia