Growing Guide
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Astilbe, Chinese

Herbaceous Perennial Flower

Also known as False Spirea
Astilbe chinensis
Saxifragaceae Family

Deceptively delicate in appearance this moisture- and semi-shade-loving perennial is hardy to Zone 4. Varieties grow anywhere from 1 to 6 feet tall. But most grow about 1.5 to 3 feet tall and have fern-like, dark green foliage and dense heads of tiny, wispy pink-white blooms.

Site Characteristics
  • full sun
  • part shade
Prefers shady, moist sites, but needs good drainage over winter. Can grow in direct sun with constant moisture. 'Pumila' tolerates dry soil better than other astilbes.

Soil conditions:

  • requires well-drained soil
  • requires high fertility
Prefers moist but well-drained soil. Can grow in drier soils if watered during dry spells.

Hardiness zones:

  • 4 to 8
May be marginally hardy in Zone 3.

Special locations:

  • outdoor containers - Can be forced to flower inside after exposing to temperatures below 40 F for 3 months.
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: perennial

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 1 to 6 feet

Most varieties grow about 1.5 to 3 feet tall. 'Davidii' grows up to 6 feet tall. 'Pumila' grows to 1 foot tall.

Spread: 1 to 2 feet

Bloom time:

  • mid-summer
  • late summer

Flower color:

  • violet
  • white
  • pink

Varies with variety from white to reddish-pink and rosy purple.

Foliage color: dark green

Variations include bronze-green and reddish green.

Foliage texture: medium

Shape: cushion, mound or clump

Shape in flower: flower stalks with upright spikes

Tiny, wispy blooms borne in dense plume-like clusters on erect, branching flower stems.

Special Considerations
Special characteristics:
  • deer resistant
  • non-aggressive
  • non-invasive
  • not native to North America - Native to China
  • bears ornamental fruit - Spent flowers are attractive and can be left until spring.
Special uses:
  • cut flowers - Cut when half open.
  • dried flowers - Cut when blooms are just open, remove all leaves, and hang in a dark well-venilated area.
    The dried seed heads can also be used.
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by division or separation - Divide in spring. Division every 3 or 4 years helps keep plants healthy. Discard old, weakened rhizomes and replant only newer, healthy roots.

Maintenance and care:
Deadhead if self-seeding is a problem, but it won't induce more flowering.

Astilbes generally do not need staking.

Water during dry spells.

Remove dead leaves or cut back plants to the ground if their foliage becomes dried out and brown during summer. This will encourage more foliage growth if cool, moist conditions return, or plants may remain dormant until spring.

Allow spent foliage to remain for the winter. Spent blooms are ornamental in fall and winter. Cut back to the ground in the spring.

Astilbes are heavy feeders and respond well to high-nitrogen fertilizer in fall.

Needs well-drained soil overwinter.

More growing information: How to Grow Perennials

Tarnished plant bug
White fly
Black vine weevil
Japanese beetle

Powdery mildew
Bacterial leaf spot
Cercospora leaf spot
var. davidii grows 3 to 6 feet tall with deep green leaves heavily flushed with bronze. Bears rosy purple blooms in dense, erect, branching heads.

'Pumila' grows 1 foot tall with violet-lavender blooms in late summer. Tolerates drier soils than most Astilbes.

var. taquetii 'Superba' grows 3 feet tall with rose-tinted purple blooms in late summer. Leaves are deep green heavily flushed with bronze and slightly crinkled in appearance.

'Finale' grows 1.5 feet tall with rosy-pink blooms in late summer.

'Intermezzo' grows 1.5 feet tall with rosy-pink blooms in late summer.

'Purple Candles' ('Purpurkerze') grows 3 feet tall with violet-purple blooms in late summer.

'Purple Lance' ('Purpurlanze') grows 3 feet tall with reddish-purple blooms in late summer.

'Serenade' grows 1 to 1.5 feet tall with reddish-pink blooms in late summer.

'Veronica Klose' grows 1.5 feet tall with reddish-violet blooms in late summer.

'Visions' grows 1.5 feet tall with rosy-red blooms in mid- to late summer.