Spirea, False –
Astilbe are a popular choice for shady gardens, where they perform well if given a rich, moist soil and regular watering. This midsized selection features showy, bright rose-mauve plumes, over a compact mound of elegant, lacy dark-green leaves. Excellent for cutting. Also thrives in tubs, or mixed containers. Seed heads may be removed, or left on the plant for winter interest. Plants should be divided every 2 to 3 years, in early spring. One of the most sun-tolerant selections, particularly in regions with cool summers.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Bronze, Deep green
Plant in spring or fall, spacing plants 1 to 3 feet apart, depending on the variety. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly. If planting bare-root plants, dig a hole twice as wide as your plants and 4 to 6 inches deep. Position the fibrous roots in the hole so that the crown is 1 to 2 inches below ground level. Cover with soil and press firmly.
Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Astilbes multiply rapidly. Divide plants every 3 to 4 years as new growth begins in the spring, lifting plants and dividing them into clumps.
Hosta – Make the feathery foliage and plumes of astilbe stand out in the shade garden by backing them with the bold blue-green leaves of hosta.
Coralbells – The low mounds of coral bell foliage team well with astilbe. Their airy flower spikes have a see-through effect, so plant heucher in front of the astilbes.
Japanese painted fern – The silvery divided fronds of Japanese painted fern look especially good with the glossy green leaves of astilbe. Both appreciate moist shade.