Astilbe

Quick facts and care essentials

• Zones 1-7, 14-17, 32-45
• Partial to full shade; accepts some sun in cool summer climates
• Regular watering

Mainstays of the summer shade garden, astilbe provides both bright flower color and attractive foliage. Feathery, plumelike flower clusters in white and a wide range of pink and red shades emerge from loose clumps of toothed, dark green, almost fernlike leaves. Heights vary, but plants typically average 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. By planting varieties with staggered bloom times, you can enjoy flowers from late spring through summer's end.

Astilbe needs rich, moist, well-drained soil. It does best in shade but tolerates sun if temperatures are fairly cool and sufficient water is provided. Survival in the coldest zones (1, 43, 45) depends on good snow cover. During the growing season, apply a complete fertilizer regularly (monthly to bimonthly, depending on soil). Divide clumps when flower production lessens, usually every 3 to 5 years.