Beautiful perennials for the garden, the astilbes, or garden spireas, available to gardeners today are usually the result of hybridization and are often listed as Astilbe x arendsii in garden books and nursery catalogs. They are grown for their dark green, fernlike foliage and their long panicles (or spikes) of flowers that resemble feathery plumes. Some have denser plumes. Color may be white, pink, lavender, or cranberry. Depending on the type, they can bloom from spring until the end of August. Blooms last about three weeks, but foliage looks great for the duration of the growing season.
How to grow: Astilbes are easily grown in partial shade, especially in the southern parts of the country. In areas with cool summers they thrive in full sun. The soil should be moist with plenty of organic matter mixed in.
Propagation: By division in early spring
Uses: The larger varieties work well in the garden border as specimen plants. Colors include white, pink, red, rose, and lilac. Heights vary from 12 to 40 inches. They also make an effective ground cover.
Scientific name: Astilbe species