Any Astilbe Experts Here?

mk87April 12, 2010

Planted my first astilbes last year (wow...they aren't cheap, but they were SO gorgeous!) and thought they were in a shady enough location. But, after a couple of weeks' blooming, they did appear to shrivel and dry up. (They had been well-watered by the way.) I assumed the location had been too bright for them after all. So, no one was more surprised than me, when this past weekend, I saw ALL five of the plants up and leafy and looking ready to shoot up bloom stalks.

What gives?

Was I maybe mistaken and was the "shrivel-y dry-looking" issue just their normal, dying off for the rest of the year?

Or should I move them to what I think might be an even deeper-shade locale? And, if so, should I move them now, or wait until they bloom?

Or, did they just need some extra time to get acclimated and maybe they will do better this year?

I'm REALLY excited about them being up and alive, after all; but I'm prepared for the cold, hard, truth; if you tell me that it's probably just going to be the same routine this year.

Thanks, in advance...

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mk87

...it occurs to me that I bought these at the garden center when they were in full bloom (of course, because that's when the garden centers want to sell them) and that maybe they had BEEN in full bloom for several days (maybe even up to a week or two). That would have cut their flowering time in MY yard significantly.

At least I didn't pull THESE up when they started to look bad, like I did the coreopsis a couple of years ago! (See? I AM learning!)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 1:53PM
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organic_gardenhag(7)

Having just moved to North GA, and bringing some with me, I plan to plant them in part shade. In my Illinois garden, some of them were in dry shade, but still bloomed though hardly ever watered, and dried up during drought, but survived, not thrived. The goal is for them to thrive, which should be part shade, protection from afternoon sun, and moist but not soggy soil. If that's what they have, give them time to get established, or move them soon if not. I'm not an expert, that's just my experience.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 11:43PM
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ladywindsurfer(Z7 SE)

I once grew a number of the Astilbe x arendsii cultivars, in a shady drainage area, that remained moist during most of the year. During the years, raised flower bed construction blocked the drainage and maturing tree roots consumed much of the available moisture and all died.

They are a medium-difficult plant to grow, requiring loose, well-drained, but constantly moist, acidic soil, in part or full shade.

Flower buds for following years blooms are formed in mid-fall (Oct.), usually our dryest month, so careful attention is necessary during that period to insure that the soil remains moist.

Today, I only have one color (white) of Astilbe in the garden and I didn't plant them. It arrived as a hitch-hiker with another plant and has returned to bloom and set seed each year, so I ignore them! It's a dwarf species and determined to be non-native.

Growers Outlet usually sells several colors of Astilbe each year, reasonably priced.
Here's their link.
Growers Outlet

It would be wise to email them to determine availability, before driving a long distance. They will often hold plants for 2 or 3 days, if you list your requirements.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 2:27AM
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pam_3(GA 7b)

I had some in a moist spot with filtered sun. They seemed pretty happy there. I gave those away (now I'm wishing I'd kept them!) and bought some others for a different spot. It's probably less moist, and only early morning sun. They are up and looking happy. I dug one up and divided it and put it back in the moist area, but more sun this time. Fingers crossed, they won't croak. I don't think they go dormant during summer. It may be a dry weather thing. You've got me wondering. I'll have to watch mine this summer.

And I second ladywindsurfer on going to Grower's Outlet. The Astilbe they had recently on sale were $2 per plant. The regular price isn't much more. Last I looked they were looking picked over. I noticed that they have more on order.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 4:48PM
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mk87

Well...don't guess it matters any more...

Our lawn service accidentally string trimmed EVERY ONE of those beautiful plants...

Oh well...easy come, easy go, I guess...

A lesson learned...although I thought they were pretty obviously planted ON PURPOSE in a little semi-circle and they weren't in an area with other weeds...but...I think I will put a little flag or something on new plantings from now on.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 7:04PM
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pam_3(GA 7b)

Oh no! That's really annoying. The ones that I had in the deeper shade with moisture put up with some abuse and came back, hopefully your's will, too.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 10:03AM
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mk87

pam -- I really hope so! They were SO gorgeous. I'd sort of written them off, y'know? And, then was so excited when they emerged again. I was starting to hunt around for sources for more of them. They are the Visions Series Purple, btw. If you ever see them at a garden center, give me a yell! I'm also going to check out the Growers Outlet.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 2:50PM
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organic_gardenhag(7)

Oh my, my husband used to do that often. Sometimes they lived throught it, don't give up on them water them, and yes put a flag on them, or caution tape.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 5:05PM
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frankielynnsie(7B)

Take a tomato cage--the kind with 3 legs and wire circles--and cut it up to make 2 or 3 'plant supports' with legs. This will not be too visible from a distance but protect your babies. It will also help with the plants that flop or need a little cat protection. Our cat likes to lay on the cat mint. With a support he can only nibble and lay on the longer branches.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 8:30PM
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mk87

organic garden -- Thanks, I will definitely water them and see what happens.

frankielynn -- Wow, the tomato cage idea is great! I never would've thought of that. In fact, I think I've even seen dark green ones, which REALLY wouldn't show at all! I will definitely try that!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 7:49AM
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susaninnorthga(Zone 7)

I am not exactly an expert on them, but I know you can't kill them. Mine come back every year even when I am sure they are gone. Even the drought didn't kill them. Mine are in a large cement planter in shade. I always intend to cut the flowers to dry them, but always forget. I am not sure if cutting them encourages more bloom or if they only bloom once, does anyone know? I have really neglected mine and they are still here after seven years.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 9:10PM
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mk87

susaninnorthga -- Thanks! That is encouraging! :) Mine only bloomed once last year, obviously, but that may have just been a fluke. It would be pretty cool if deadheading them makes them flower again...

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 9:14AM
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susaninnorthga(Zone 7)

This year I am going to see if the blooms will come back after cutting. They are supposed to make great dried flowers. I wish I had more of these plants, maybe I will look into how to root them or divide them. I hope yours come back.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 3:42PM
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mk87

They are coming back up! Yay! I bought small plant supports this weekend to "mark" them.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 9:48AM
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susaninnorthga(Zone 7)

I looked around mine and found that there were some new young ones!! I dug them out and put them in pots. I am so thrilled I now have a couple more. I had neglected them so badly I didn't realize they would multiply like they did.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 5:52PM
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mk87

Update...they came back up! Four out of five of them anyway. And, they are THE most gorgeous shade of purple you have ever seen, just like I remembered! SO very worth the $10 apiece for those things. They didn't spread any and they are a LITTLE small-ish, but I think that's 'cause they got cut down when they were first up. The plant supports were the perfect thing to "mark" them for the mowers.

Has anyone seen this variety for sale anywhere in the ATL or MACON areas? I went to Scottsdale for the first time a few weeks ago...wow, is THAT place ever cool! I was like a kid in a candy store (literally, because, y'know...they sell treats in the restaurant part! LOL). They had lots of varieties, but no VS Purple. Just white, red and pink. I really want the purple though. My dream is just banks of the beautiful purple blooms winding down my shady path to the (as yet, un-dug) dry creek bed in the back yard!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 12:59PM
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susaninnorthga(Zone 7)

That's great they came back. My divisions are doing well too, and putting out new growth. I am not sure about different varieties, mine have deep pink blooms and dark glossy leaves, the leaves are really beautiful. The dry creek bed sounds wonderful, I have always wanted one too.
Susan.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 11:18AM
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mab2(6a)

When do Astilbe begin showing signs of life again? I planted a few end of last summer but did not plant the right way. We put them under a tree along with hostas and bronze wave. Against my advice DH threw 3 inches of topsoil down without pulling up the grass first and dug down from there. Then we didn't mulch. Oh Yeah, and then it all got eaten to stems by rabbits or deer within a few weeks. Anyway, my question- is there any hope? It's a hideous mess (in front of house no less). I don't know how long I should wait before I give up and start over the right way. Even though we did everything wrong, it was a lot of work and if there is a chance these will come back I will just mulch carfeully. Maybe throw some compost in?
HELP! In Northen NJ 6a

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 3:33PM
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candleinthewind

I have about 9 astilbes. The thrive in my garden regardless that they get full sun from 11 am to 6 pm. Never had a problem with them. They are very healthy and a few have reseeded as I have a few new astilbes next to the old ones. Love them

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 5:32PM
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dalexa1824

I am not an expert but experienced. I have 5-6 different kinds in different places. Wonderful plants. You cant kill them if in good soil. They are spring plants in my area. They get shabby and dry up in the "dog days" but so lovely in the spring they are well worth it. One of my favorites

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:30PM
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poaky1

I am in Pa, but have read they are heavy feeders, and in Ga will need a good bit of shade.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:09PM
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