Astilbes in full bloom
image by isamiga76/Flickr.com
Astilbes are hardy perennials that winterize well and can live in the same area for years on end without needing to be replanted. They create large, pointed clumps of vividly colored blooms. Their distinct characteristic is that, while most flowers need full sun to bloom bright colors, astilbes grow and bloom best in full or partial shade. They are resistant to both deer and slugs, making them not only a beautiful addition to any garden, but a practical one as well.
Prepare the soil before planting your astilbes. Dig or till a 1-foot wide and deep hole in the desired location. Fill the hole with 4 inches of compost and add about a handful of your favorite granular, slow-release fertilizer. Mix the two well and refill the hole with the original soil.
Dig the soil out again until you have a hole matching the depth and width of the container your astilbes came in.
Pull the astilbes out of the container, loosen the roots gently with your hand and slowly place the flower into the hole until the root ball is just covered.
Water the plant thoroughly. Cover any exposed roots once the soil has settled from the watering. Press the soil down firmly.
Add a 2-inch layer of mulch and compost, replacing with new material each spring.
Apply a liquid fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks throughout spring. Always apply the fertilizer underneath and not over the mulch. After the first 2 years, you will only need to apply fertilizer once a year.
Water the plants twice daily for the first 2 to 3 weeks if rainfall is inadequate. Slowly reduce the watering to once a week once the plants are established.