With its rich fern-like foliage and brightly colored blooms in shades of lavender, white, burgundy, salmon, red and purple, astilbe adds an old-fashioned woodland charm to the landscape. Because it is a perennial flower, astilbe has blooms that vanish with the first winter frost and don't reappear until spring. However, astilbe lends itself to air-drying, and it isn't difficult to preserve a few of its feathery plumes for year-round enjoyment in dried flower arrangements, potpourri or wreaths.
Harvest astilbe blooms and stems during the warm part of the day. Harvesting astilbe during damp weather or on dewy mornings will make drying the blooms more difficult. Shake the astilbe gently to remove dust and debris.
Loosely gather six to eight astilbe together in a bunch, and secure the stem ends with a rubber band. Hang the astilbe upside down from a coat hanger, nail or wire hook, and put them in a warm, airy, dark room to dry.
Check the astilbe every few days. When the astilbe is dry, the stems and blooms will be brittle. Drying can take three to six weeks, depending on the humidity and temperature in the room.
Store the dried astilbe upright in a vase. Or, if they aren't in the way, leave them hanging upside down until you're ready to use them. You can also store dried astilbe in a cardboard box lined with tissue paper. Don't store dried astilbe in plastic, as this material lends itself to moisture, which can destroy astilbe.