Astilbe simplicifolia False Spiraea

12 Fascinating Facts About Astilbe

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Astilbe are herbaceous perennials that feature feathery, fern-like foliage and colorful plume flowers that bloom in summer. There are 18 known species, as well as countless hybrids and cultivars to choose from. These easy-to-grow plants thrive in shady gardens and combine beautifully with other shade-loving plants.

Below we’ll explore some of the most interesting things about astilbe’s appearance, growing needs, and uses in the garden. Learning more about this plant will help you properly care for it and appreciate its unique beauty.

Facts and Features

  1. Astilbe gets its name from the Greek word for “brightness.” This refers to the bright plumes of flowers that sit atop its ferny foliage.
  2. The foliage remains attractive all season. Even when not in bloom, the finely divided, fern-like leaves add texture and interest to shady areas.
  3. Flowers come in a rainbow of colors. Popular flower colors include white, pink, red, purple, and salmon. There are even varieties with dark foliage and bright green flowers for a unique combo.
  4. Hybridizers have created shorter astilbe varieties. While most astilbe grow 2-4 feet tall, new dwarf hybrids reach just 1-2 feet high, making them suitable for containers.
  5. The flowers are perfect for cutting. The long-lasting blooms look beautiful in floral arrangements.
  6. Deer and rabbits usually avoid astilbe. This makes them a great choice for gardens plagued by these wildlife pests.
  7. Astilbe thrive in shade. They require at least 2-3 hours of filtered sunlight or dappled shade each day. Too much sun will cause the foliage to yellow or burn.
  8. They require consistently moist soil. Water them frequently, especially during dry periods. Add organic matter like compost to the soil to help retain moisture.
  9. Divide congested clumps every 2-3 years. This keeps the plants healthy and flowering freely. Spring or fall is the best time to divide them.
  10. Some astilbe spread aggressively. Varieties like Astilbe chinensis and Astilbe japonica can colonize by rhizomes and self-seeding if left unchecked.
  11. Astilbe have few pest or disease issues. Proper site selection and care typically keeps them problem-free. Occasionally they are affected by leaf spot fungi, stem rot, or Japanese beetles.
  12. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Plant them near seating areas or windows to enjoy the visiting pollinators.


The feathery plumes and fern-like foliage of astilbe add graceful texture to shady gardens. Their low-maintenance nature, pest resistance, and variety of flower forms and colors make them a versatile landscaping plant. We hope these fascinating facts shed new light on the beauty and uniqueness of astilbe. Consider adding one of these shade-loving perennials to your garden this season so you can enjoy their charms up close!

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