A Rain-Proof Flower

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

Tuesday in the Garden

We had over an inch of rain last night, some of it very hard. But my astilbe were standing proud this morning– even though I have not staked them. Astilbes are workhorses of the garden. Easy to grow, long flowering, pest and disease-free. And beautiful.

Astilbes come in a range of colors

There is some confusion among gardeners as to what conditions please astilbes best. Some think of them as shade plants, others plant them in full sun. I grow them, mostly, in full sun. The key is adequate moisture. Plants in the sun need more moisture than those growing in the shade.  In the shade, astilbe will muddle along, but not excel, especially if it's in a dry location with lots of competition from tree roots. They will do better in shade if there is plenty of moisture. 

Astilbes need consistently moist soil to best performance

Plant astilbes in rich soil. If your soil is on the lean side, don’t just throw a handful of fertilizer into the planting hole. Dig a hole 18 inches wide and a foot deep, and put in a generous shovel of dark, rich compost. Then mix that with the original soil before planting.  

These have been blooming for weeks, but still look good

Astilbes come in colors from white to pink to red and in height from 18 inches to nearly 5 feet tall. I have to admit that some of my 5-footers were leaning over this morning after the rain, but none broke the way a delphinium or peony might have.  

These 5-footers are leaning after last night's rain, but none snapped off or fell over.

If astilbes have a flaw, it would only be that they are not long-lasting in a vase. Pick them before they are in full bloom for best results. 

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