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Astilbes prefer some shade and are happy with a range of light from dabbled sunlight to moderately shady to the shade that’s found on the north side of buildings. (Sorry, nothing’s going to grow robustly in the dense dark shade under that giant blue spruce.) Astilbes are more tolerant of clay soils than are most perennials plants.
Light to moderate feeders, astilbes grow well in average, well-drained soil and don’t require rich, perfect loam. Compost, dug in when planting or added as a top dressing later, provides a welcome supply of nutrients.
Plant outdoors when frost danger has past. Astilbes are hardy perennials and can take freezing without ill effects once they are established. For fall planting, get your astilbes in the ground at least 6 weeks before hard frosts typically arrive in your region. This gives the plants time to develop sufficient roots before going into winter.
Your astilbes will be shipped bareroot, in a dormant state. Dormancy means the plant is not in actively growing; it’s been held in a cool, dark setting similar to winter garden conditions and is “sleeping”. The bareroot term means that the soil has been washed from the roots; there is no risk of introducing any soil-borne diseases into your garden, and the plants are lighter and cleaner to ship. When you plant your astilbe, adding light and moisture, they’ll wake up. Roots will start growing in a few days and top growth will be visible in 1-3 weeks. Fall planted astilbes will develop roots in the cool, but not frozen, soil and sprout top growth in spring.
Dig a hole a bit bigger than the root ball and mix in a couple scoops of compost. Fan out the roots in your planting hole and place the crown (area from which leaves will sprout) an inch below soil level. Refill around plant with soil, tap down to eliminate any big air pockets and water well.
In the garden, space your plants so they have enough room to grow without crowding. Allow 18-24” between plants for full size astilbe and 14-18” for the more compact Younique astilbes.
Astilbes require little care during the growing season. During their first season, while they are settling in, make sure they receive 1-2” of water, from rain or irrigation, per week. From their second season on, they’ll be fine with about the same or a little less. Feel free to snip flowers; this won’t hurt the plants. Or leave the flowers to develop into seed heads and cut these for fall arrangements.
Light: Light to moderate shade
Soil: Fertile and well drained
Depth: Plant clumps at ground level
Water: Average moisture
Uses: Beds, accents and woodland gardens
Tip: Use where deer and rabbits are a problem
They Start Out looking Like This:
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