Known By The Name False Goat's Beard
Astilbe is an herbaceous perennial genus containing 18 species that is part of the Saxifragaceae family. Native to Asia and North America, its common names include False Spirea, Meadowsweet and False Goat’s Beard. Astilbe is the perfect shrubby plant for the shady perennial border garden. Best planted en masse, the feathery, plume-like trusses of the flower clusters provide an abundance of color in white, pink, mauve, red, purple and lime. The airy flowers sit atop slender, wiry stems reaching 6” to over 3’ in height. Most have shiny, divided, toothed leaflets for leaves, almost fern-like, but some species have simple lobed leaves with cut margins (A. simplicifolia).
Growing Recommendations - Astilbe
Astilbe is easy to grow, virtually pest-free and has a long bloom season of riotous color when planted en masse. It is a mainstay plant along a pool or pond’s edge, a shady path and even in a container garden. It prefers sun or part shade and requires moist, but not boggy, soil conditions. Regular, heavy mulch applications help to maintain moisture. Astilbe blooms in late spring through the summer, and has a longer bloom season in cooler summers. Although astilbe can be used as cut flowers, it is best left in the garden where the blooms may be enjoyed for longer duration. Examples of popular astilbe varieties include A. arendsii, A. chinensis (blooms in late summer, is taller and more drought resistant than most species), and A. thunbergii. Astilbe does not require deadheading and the flowerheads look attractive even after they have been spent and dried. Do not cut the stems back to the ground until the following spring to ensure maximum bloom. Propagate astilbe by seed or division. Divide root clumps in late fall every 4-5 years to keep the plant healthy, including a crown and good root clump in each division and keeping the new divisions well-watered.