magicgarden_az(Z9)June 15, 2006

Has anyone tried this? They have lovely feathery flowers. Very delicate. A summer flower on the east coast. I am just wondering if they are a possibility in the southern Arizona.

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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I believe you mean astilbe. According to the Plant Files on another forum this plant prefers shade and a consistently moist soil. Both of those are a challenge for me here in the desert. HTH and Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant Files

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 7:20AM
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Thanx marymcp - you are right - it is astilbe. I work in New York and noticed it on a nature walk. I have quite a bit of space on my land in Tucson so I will create a spot to plant astilbe in the fall. I have irrigation, so I'll use a section of soaker hose for it. I'm home next month and I am planning a corner for more delicate plants anyway.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 10:19AM
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It wants shade, constant moisture, acid soil, and lots of fertilizer. See for details.

You can grow them in Prescott and the White Moutains, but in the low or high deserts it's going to suffer badly from the heat and lack of humidity, then die. They are listed for Sunset Zones 1-7, 14-17. They are "short-lived" in Zones 8,9, and 18-24 because they don't get enough winter chill. Zone 10, 11, 12, and 13 are not listed as recommended zones.

There are plants with the same spire-flower look that can grow in the desert ... salvias especially.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 11:33AM
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Lazygardens: thanx for your input. I really wanted to know what someone else actually experienced. I am not afraid to try because I have been quite successful in my garden and I've tried all kinds of things. I am willing to put the work in and spend the money. I enjoy it so much.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 11:14AM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

I haven't tried them in AZ but... I do know they like bog type conditions. I think they'd almost have to be on 24/7 drip if planted in the ground here. I suggest using a foam plant container, the ones with no holes. That way it's pretty easy to keep them really wet. You'd have to deal with salt/mineral build up. I don't know how they'd deal with the heat. Shade for sure. A pot would allow you to move the it around to see where it does best.

Love to know what you find out.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 7:21AM
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Dear WaterBug: I actually work in New York (the house is in Tucson) and after reading your note, I went to the Hudson River side of the World Financial Center where the astilbe is growing. After looking at the soil, I concluded that you really pointed out the importance of keeping the ground moist. Interesting. I put a retaining wall in my yard in the shade of my mature lemmon tree and I am going to try astilbe in the fall with lots of perlite in an enriched soil. I have a professional irrigation system so I'll be able to create a micro-environment. It will be a fun experiment. I'll probably try some other things with similar needs just to see what works. Thanx for your input!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 5:22PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

I don't know for sure but perlite and enriched soil may not be the best choice. Bog condition would be heavy muck which is a real fine clay. Much different clay than we have here in Phoenix. Fine clay holds moisture better than perlite imo.

The water container gardens I've had before worked well with enriched soil. But when I divided each year the soil was like hot compost. I wonder if it could be too intense longer term. Like I said, plants seemed fine but it got me to wondering. I've done pots with the fine clay too and they seemed fine. Never really done any side by side comparison.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 6:53AM
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Dear WaterBug: After you said that, I went back to where I found the astilbe and took a soil sample. I think you are right about the soil being like clay. When I get ready to plant, I'll get the sample examined and duplicate it. I can easily designate a section just for this type of plant. It will be a fun project. Someday, I hope to start a specialty nursery for the fun of it.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 3:32PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

If you wanted more experiences with Astilbe you could post on the pond forum too.

If you wanted to plant in the ground rather than a pot you can put down a pond liner in the bed and fill with clay soil. I've also used just pea gravel but I think most plants do better in clay. I think our clay would be OK in that kind of setup.

To me it's either rich soil in an open well draining bed or enclosed bed with clay. You might have to water the open bed several times in the summer.

I'd bet you could at least get it to grow as a winter annual at least here in Phoenix. Now you have me thinking of trying some this winter. It is a great plant.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 6:52AM
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Dear Waterbug: Good suggestions! I think Astilbe would make an excellent winter annual. It might be difficult if I were trying to do miles of this type of planting, but I am just designating a small portion of a raised bed. And anyway, how many plants can you look at - at one time? Good luck with yours. Let me know how it goes. Maybe we have started something!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 5:13PM
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