- Type Herbaceous flower
- Lifespan Perennial
- USDA Zones 3-9
- Light Full or dappled shade
- Soil Add humus
- When to Plant Autumn
- Companions Coral bells, azaleas
- Design Tip Brightens dark corners
- Peak Season Colorful summer plumes
Astilbes: A Field Guide
Astilbe’s feathery plumes add color to shady spots and under trees in the garden. (In cooler climates, these perennial flowers will thrive in partial sun, as well.)
You may also know these plants with ferny foliage by their common nicknames: false spirea or false goat’s beard. Blooming in shades of pink, white, salmon, purple, and red, these bottlebrush-shaped flowers can carry the garden through hot summer months after perennials fade. Like many shade-loving woodland flowers, astilbe appreciates moist, boggy conditions, so make sure you don’t stint when it comes to watering.
With hundreds of varieties, astilbes can help you out in the front of the border, mixed in the middle with ferns, or as a backdrop. (No matter how tall the astilbe, its stiff blooming spikes almost never require support, an added bonus.)
For texture, color, and hardiness, astilbes are a tough perennial to top in USDA growing zones 3 to 9 (hardiness varies by cultivar). To learn more about some of astilbe’s favorite companions, see our guides to Hostas, Western Sword Ferns, and Azaleas.