Astilbe help requested - Warning lots of info to read...

orcascove(6 Columbus Ohio)February 2, 2008

Hello all, I was wondering if anyone could help me with my astilbe problem. I have 8 plants total. All where given to me as a gift and purchased from the same mail order company (I believe Brecks). 2 White, 2 peach, 2 red and 2 purple. Here is the problem:

The peach and purple are not. They come up every year with fresh new stalks and leaves looking promising and then both bloom a rust color.

The White and Red do bloom in their color but only stay that way for a few weeks. After about 1 month they all have turned a dark brown dead looking color. What am I doing wrong? They are in mostly shade, as they only get about 2/3 hours of morning sun a day. I have had them all for about 5 years now, and I have tried each year something different but get the same results.

The first year I gave them enough water to keep the ground moist but not soggy.

The second year I gave them lots more water thinking I didn't give them enough the 1st year (Same results).

The third year I gave them less water thinking - ok well then they must have to much water(same results again).

The 4th year I went with more water and fertilizer (and again the same results).

Last year I did less water and fertilizer but still yet once again faced the same ugly brown dead looking plants after just one month.

And the Purple and Peach have never bloomed with color no matter what I tried.

As I said they were a gift (from my little 7 year old god daughter whom lovingly picked them out at age 2) so if I can I would like to grow them. So any suggestions? Am I doing something wrong, or should I just dig up these specific plants and acquire new ones to discretely replace them? My concern is if I am doing something wrong I will most likely cause the same results with the new plants too.

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The individual blooms of astilbe do not last very long. It is not at all unusual for them to go over or start to fade and dry (turning a rusty brown) in a month or so. In fact, very few perennials have a bloom season that lasts more than a few weeks to a month. Some folks like the dried look of the spent flowers stalks and leave them in place, others remove them. One way to extend the season of interest is to plant different varieties that have different bloom times - some cultivars are very early, others offer flowers quite a bit later.

As to why the peach and purple didn't produce the colors you were expecting is hard to say......depends on what cultivars they are. IME, 'Peach Blossom' produces flowers that are a rather insipid and very pale color and they do not hold long. FWIW, flower color has typically little to do with growing conditions, other than too much strong light can bleach out certain colors. Otherwise, it sounds like you are providing pretty much the condiitons they want - a rich, organic soil and sufficient moisture and partial shade.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 9:39AM
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orcascove(6 Columbus Ohio)

Ok, well must be the particular cultivar on those. Can anyone recommend a really Pink and really Lavender variety that actually look pink and light purple. My god daughter is old enough now to realize they aren't the right colors, and I don't want her to be turned off by gardening because "her" plants are not right. So I will try to descretely exchange those colors out for some that are brighter. - Oh the things we do for the little ones.. LOL!! I know she will have to learn the lesson about plants not always being what you expect sometime, but I think I will leave that to her mother to teacher her.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 10:55AM
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tjsangel(z5 OH)

A clear pure pink I have found and love is Rheinland. It blooms earlier than some and for a long time, it's really beautiful. Good luck on your search!


    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 7:49AM
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orcascove(6 Columbus Ohio)

Thanks Jen, I will look for that one to replace the peach. I think the Pink will be better than Peach, (and I don't think my god daughter will remember Peach versus Pink) but I still need a great Lavender colored astilbe. Have to stay with a lighter Purple as it is her favorite color.. Anyone have suggestions?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 3:51PM
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Astilbe chinensis 'Superba' is an excellent lilac colored astilbe but it is a tall, robust plant (to 4' in flower) so best for a background planting. And it is a late season bloomer, providing color in my garden in late July and August.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 11:04AM
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