Astilbe

False Spiraea

Where would gardening be without Astilbes? A showy group of herbaceous perennials, full and fluffy spires of spectacular feathery plumes rise above finely cut foliage of green and bronze. A natural for bold, vertical statements, its hardiness belies its delicate form. All prefer to lounge in cool, moisture-retentive soil, with partial to full shade (inland). One of the best perennials for woodland plantings, they’re also lovely cut flowers.

The cultivar name translates to “august light”, alluding to its magnificent feathered scarlet-red plumes that are touted as blooming later than most other arendsii. The erect fluffy flowers ascend on slender stems from a lustrous, bushy fern-like clump of young leaves imbued with rubescent shades plus mature dissected deep greenery. Another spectacular George Arends creation, this Astilbe looks best in sweeps, makes a long-lasting addition to cut arrangements and wards off rabbits as well as deer.

Blooms July–August

Size: 2-1/2' – 3' 0" high x 18" – 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Like a grand finale of summer, soft pink, long blooming flower spikes at least a foot tall start heading skyward in late summer and keep going until autumn. Their upright appearance makes for a perfect blend with Molinia, Stachys ‘Primrose Heron’ and Geranium ‘Orion’.

Blooms August–September.

Size: 3' 0" high x 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

It’s a happy chance that this exquisite low growing Astilbe makes a dense, weed-proof ground cover with its glossy, deep green leaves. We plant it under the dappled light of large Hydrangeas, and by midsummer ‘Pumila’s rosy mauve flowers put on a colorful display.

Blooms mid-July–September.

Size: 12" high x 12" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Favored for its spectacular upright architecture, 'Purpurlanze' sprouts handsome ternately lobed dark green foliage crowned by straight lance-shaped purple spires, whose soft tightset appearance begs a caress. Blooming later than most Astilbes, plus tackling more sun and drier conditions, this showy cultivar’s statuesque accents span nearly 3 seasons. Relish it in woodland fringes with companions like Persicaria ‘Fat Domino’, Sedum ‘Red Cauli’ and tawny-plumed grasses.

Blooms August–September.

Size: 3' 0" – 4' 0" high x 18" – 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

This vigorous perennial is indeed superb with urbane jagged-edged foliage, narrow dense spikes of vibrant lavender pink blooms and a rugged stately constitution that handles more heat and drought than other Astilbes. Distinctive cut leaves emerge a mahogany red and later turn deep green beneath strong, straight-backed tall flowering stalks. One of the latest of the genus to open, the stunning blossoms precede rich chocolate brown dried seed heads, forging a statuesque presence in the winter garden.

Blooms August–September.

Size: 3' 0" – 4' 0" high x 18" – 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Lustrous, heavily divided crinkly foliage that sculpts an impeccable small-sized mound sets this AGM winner apart from other Astilbes. Grounded by compact, low growing dark green leaves and reddish hennasuffused young growth, short stiff upright stems unfurl attractive pyramidal spires of miniature deep rosy pink flowers. Enduring drier soil in shady spots and nearly full sun in cool summer regions, ‘Perkeo’ can enrich the front lines of a border, a shady rock garden or patio container.

Blooms July–August.

Size: 10" high x 10" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

<i>Astilbe</i> ‘Ellie’ <i>Astilbe</i> ‘Ellie’

A preeminent white flowering variety, this japonica hybrid promises to soothe your senses with its large, snowy white plumes. Sharply toothed leaves gather in a lustrous dark green foil for the branching pyramidal-shaped spires whose bright lacy blooms fade to green as they wane. Like a breathe of fresh air ushering in summer, ‘Ellie’s incandescent beauty can be shown off en masse, escorting Heuchera ‘Cinnabar’s frosted foliage.

Blooms May – June.

Size: 2' 0" high x 18" wide.

Zone 3/4.

<i>Astilbe</i> ‘Flamingo’

Flamingo pink and proud of it, long arching, plump floral fingers extend out, gracefully cascading from the slightly fragrant, well branched upright panicles. These tapered, broad, airy towers give a long ladylike showing, while a handsome dark green clump of glistening, jagged-edged leaflets does the footwork. An esteemed Astilbe arendsii descendant, ‘Flamingo’ never needs staking, easily melds mauves and blues, and holds our interest into winter when its bushy blooms impart rich brown tones.

Zone 3/4 (pp#12664).

Blooms July – August

Size: 2-1/2' high x 18" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

<i>Astilbe</i> ‘Ostrich Plume’

Large, open-branched fluffy plumes of petite rich coral pink flowers make a stylish weeping gesture above lush dark greenery, earning this heavy blooming thunbergii hybrid a coveted AGM and celebrated status as one of the most graceful Astilbes. Cultivated since 1952, ‘Ostrich Plume’s delicate looking blooms and vigorous fern-like mounds, which feature sharply toothed compound leaves and bronze-tinged new growth convey dreamy Impressionistic accents, especially when surrounded with Astrantia ‘White Giant’.

Blooms May–June.

Size: 3' 0" high x 18" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Living up to its name, this dazzling Alan Bloom arendsii selection spotlights feathered pristine white flowers and gleaming medium green compound leaves. The majestic, broad triangular spires top slender upright stems above tailored deeply hewn toothed leaves, imparting a classic combination of green and pearly white. Easily grown ‘Snowdrift’ can be utilized as an edging plant along paths and ponds or be massed as a spectacular ground cover.

Blooms May–June

Size: 2' 0" high x 18" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

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Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Helianthus 'Sheila's Sunshine', Persicaria 'Summer Dance', and Selinum wallichianum

Helianthus ‘Sheila’s Sunshine - P-0461

The sunflower was once an emblem of the Sun God of the Incas. Our sunflowers tolerate a wide range of garden soils, attract bees, and make great cut flowers. Blooms early August – October.

Persicaria ‘Summer Dance’ - P-1312

With foliage that’s close to lime-green, and spiky floral tails that approach the scarlet spectrum of rosy pink, this slow spreading perennial is sure to please. Happiest in semishade with ample moisture. Blooms August–November.

Selinum wallichianum - P-1406

This refined Himalayan beauty happens to be one of our favorite perennial umbellifers. With untold elegance, infinitely divided leaves craft a delicate, lacelike transparency. The compact yet airy green canopy is framed by distinctive, purple-infused branching stems that elevate a charming, late season display of white flattened umbels.

Subduing the riotous array of summertime blooms, it seldom needs staking, and appreciates a well draining moist niche. Blooms June–August.

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