Astilbe, pronounced "as-TILL-bee," is a handy plant. It likes the shade, for one thing, opening up color possibilities in lonely garden spaces. Plumes of flowers grow on stalks that shoot up above foliage of green, bronze and red. Astilbe grows in a range of colors and heights, the different heights allowing astilbe to be used as a border plant or in massed plantings that possess depth, variety and interest. Since astilbes are perennials, you must prepare the soil before planting. Soil should have about a 5.5 pH, should be humus rich and moist; incorporating peat and using mulch is advised.
Sprite (A. simplicifolia) is a diminutive astilbe, growing from 6 to 12 inches tall. It puts out light pink flower plumes late in summer. When it's not in bloom, Sprite provides bronze foliage.
Pumilla (A. chinensis) grows about a foot tall, producing lavender pink flowers that bloom in late summer. The plant can act like a ground cover. All astilbe clump and should be divided every few years for new plants, which presents gardeners with an opportunity to cover swaths of shady areas.
Visions (A. chinensis) grows 12 to 18 inches. It blooms late in summer with a lilac purple color. Meanwhile, the plant sports bronze foliage.
As the name suggests, Bridal Veil (A. x arendsii) blooms in white. The flowers appear in midsummer on a plant that grows from 18 to 24 inches tall.
Besides creating a show of white plumes in early summer, Deutschland's (A. x japonica) flowers also give out scent. The plant is 20 to 28 inches tall.
Dramatic Granat (A. x arendsii) boasts deep red flowers and bronze to purple foliage on a plant that is at 24 to 28 inches high. It blooms in early to midsummer.
Peach Blossom (A. x rosea) is another astilbe with fragrant flowers. It blooms early summer in pink with peach undertones. The plant is 20 to 30 inches tall.
This astilbe will attract attention with scarlet red plumes backed by dark foliage. Red Sentinel (A. x japonica) blooms in mid- to late summer. The plant is 2 to 3 feet tall.
Cattleya (A. x arendsii) is a long bloomer, producing rose-pink to orchid-pink flowers in mid- to late summer. The plant grows 36 to 40 inches tall.
Purple Candles (A. chinensis) grows 36 to 42 inches tall, providing red-purple plumes late in summer.
If you need something tall, Purple Lance (A. x taquetii) is the right astilbe. Growing almost 4 feet high--42 to 46 inches--Purple Lance blossoms in late summer with pink-purple plumes.