Astilbes are a popular summer-flowering perennial with fern-like foliage topped with delicate plumes of color. Astilbes are available in several varieties, each with its own height and specific bloom period. Astilbes come in many shades of pink, as well as red, white and purple. Regardless of color, all astilbes need similar conditions in which to thrive.
Astilbes grow best in partially shaded spots that receive some filtered sunlight. They do appreciate a few hours of morning sun. The more sunlight they are exposed to, the more water they need. Astilbes thrive in moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter similar to that found in a woodland setting. Keeping the soil evenly moist is the key to success when growing astilbes. If allowed to dry out, especially during the heat of summer, they will stop flowering and eventually die.
Shade-loving astilbes are ideal for a woodland or shade garden, or in shaded areas of the perennial border or cottage garden. Astilbes will grow in full shade (areas that receive less than four hours of direct sun), but the plant will produce fewer blooms. There are many pink astilbes that thrive in partial to full shade. Astilbe "arendsii" is a good hybrid variety whose blooms come in many shades of pink. "Rhineland" is an early bloomer with deep pink flowers. "Peach Blossom" produces light salmon-pink flowers in midsummer. For late-season color, the baby pink blooms of "Finale" make a nice choice.
Not Enough Shade
For sunnier locations, choose a more sun-tolerant variety such as Chinese Astilbe ("chinesis"). This variety tolerates more sun and somewhat drier soil than other astilbes. Still, daily watering is essential during hot, dry spells. Scorching afternoon sun should be avoided if possible. There are several lovely pink chinesis, including "Visions," with lovely rose-pink blooms, "Visions in Pink," with pale pink blooms and blue-green foliage, and "Pumila," a dwarf variety with reddish-pink flowers atop burgundy-tinged foliage.
If the proper light requirements are hard to provide, gardeners may choose to grow astilbes in containers. Astilbes do well in pots and tubs as long as they are planted in humus-rich potting soil with adequate drainage. The advantage of growing astilbes in containers is that they can be moved from place to place depending on the type of light available. For example, you can place the pot on a sunny patio for the morning light and then move it of the direct sun to a shadier spot for the afternoon. "Federsee" grows about 24 inches tall and produces rose-pink flowers in mid-summer, making it a nice choice for a container garden.
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