(ass-till’ bee)

Common name: Astilbe, False Spirea

Family: Saxifragaceae, Saxifrage

Height x width: 6-48" x 8-24" varying with species

Growth habit: upright clumps

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: 2-3 ternately compound; leaflets ovate-oblong and doubly serrate; dark green to reddish green; size varies with species

Flowers: small in dense panicles 6-12" long, usually held above leaves, erect or arching; various colors of red, pink, lavender or white; mid summer north, early summer south, some species later

Hardiness: listed 4-8, although most cultivars survive to zone 3

Soil: moist is crucial, see problems below; ‘Federsee’ and koreana tolerate drier conditions; chinensis ‘Pumila’ tolerates heavier clay soils

Light: part shade to sun in north if adequate moisture, part shade in south

Pests and Problems: inadequate soil moisture causes leaves to turn brown, first on margins, then die; occasionally powdery mildew; occasionally black vine weevil or Japanese beetles

Landscape habit, uses: shade and woodland gardens, near water features, cut flowers (harvest when flowers are half open); seedheads provide winter interest

Other interest: from the Greek words for without (a-) amd brillance (stilbo) referring to the flowers’ lack of brillance; species generally native to Japan, and other Asian countries

Other culture: may need dividing every 3-4 years

Propagation: division or woody crowns in early spring; seeds receiving 4 weeks of cool after sowing, not for cultivars; tissue culture of white or pink cultivars, red ones mutate


 Cultivars: those marked * are most commonly seen in U.S. commerce and gardens; most are hybrids of various cultivars, and may be seen listed under species, especially x arendsii and x hybrida. Those primarily bred or selected from a particular species are so listed. Although the German names are usually the correct ones, the English equivalents have been used here as being more often recognized.
Cultivar flowers height, in. other
var. alba white 18-24 simplicifolia
‘America’ lilac rose 28 open panicles
‘Amethyst’ lilac pink 30-36  
‘Anita Pfeifer’ bright rose 24-30 from Arends, 1930
‘Aphrodite’ salmon red 18 simplicifolia
‘Atro-rosea’ rose salmon 18 simplicifolia
‘Avalanche’ white 24 arching panicles
‘Bergkristall’ white 36  
‘Betsy Cuperus’ blush pink 36 from 1917, long sprays
‘Brautschlier’:’Bridal Veil’      
‘Bressingham Beauty’ clear pink 42 arching sprays
‘Bridal Veil’ (‘Brautschlier’) white-pink 30  
‘Bronce Elegans’:’Bronze Elegance’      
‘Bronze Elegance’(‘Bronce Elegans’) rose pink 18 simplicifolia, bronze foliage
‘Bronze Laub’ pinkish white 28 dark foliage
‘Bumalda’ rosy white 24  
‘Carnea’ deep salmon 18 simplicifolia, late bloom
‘Catherine Deneuve’ rose pink 24-30  
*’Cattleya’ orchid pink 36  
‘Darwin’s Snow Sprite’ white 12 late bloom
var. davidii purple pink 48-72 chinensis, tolerates dry soil
*’Deutschland’ white 24 dense spikes
‘Diamond’ (‘Diamont’) white 24-36  
‘Drayton Glory’ pale pink 28  
‘Dunkellachs’ salmon 24 simplicifolia, bronze foliage
‘Elisabeth’ raspberry 28  
‘Elizabeth Bloom’ pink 30 dark green foliage
‘Ellie’ white 30 large flowers
*’Erica’ clear pink 36 open panicles, large
*’Etna’ dark red 24 dark green foliage
‘Europa’ pale pink 24 early
*’Fanal’ blood red 24 maroon leaves, from 1933
*’Federsee’ carmine rose 24 tolerates dry soil
‘Finale’ light pink 18 chinensis
‘Fire’ (‘Feuer’) fiery red 30  
‘Fleur’ rose red 30  
‘Gertrude Brix’ carmine red 24  
‘Gladstone’ (‘W.E. Gladstone’) creamy white 24-30 japonica hybrid
*‘Gloria’ rosy lavender 30 mid-summer
‘Glow’ (‘Glut’) deep red 12-18  
‘Gnome’ pink 6 x crispa, arching, reddish foliage
‘Granat’ carmine red 24  
‘Grete Pungel’ pink 36 from Arends in 1924
‘Helsingborg’ red 28 late bloom
‘Hennie Graafland’ rose 18 simplicifolia, long bloom
*‘Hyacinth’ (‘Hyazinth’) lilac pink 36  
‘Inshriach Pink’ pink 12 simplicifolia, foliage bronze
‘Intermezzo’ salmon pink 24-30 chinensis
‘Irene’ light pink 24  
‘Irrlicht’ rosy white 24-30 dark green foliage
‘Jacqueline’ light pink 28 excellent foliage
‘Jo Ophorst’ magenta 36 late bloom
‘Koblenz’ salmon pink 24 japonica, bronzed foliage
‘Korean Splendor’ rose purple 48 very late bloom
koreana white 28 large floret petals
‘Kwell’ (‘Kvele’) lilac rose 32  
‘Lilli Goos’ pink to red 30 late bloom, from 1930
‘Lilliput’ rose pink 6-12 x crispa
‘Mainz’ lavender pink 24 dark green foliage
‘Mars’ violet 24 early bloom
‘Mont Blanc’ white 28  
‘Montgomery’ scarlet red 24-30  
‘Mowe’ light rose 24  
‘Obergartner Jurgens’ rosy red 24 from japonica, from 1954
‘Ostrich Plume’ (‘Strassenfeder’) bright pink 36 arching panicles, thunbergii
‘Paradise Pink’ lavender pink 28  
*‘Peach Blossom’ salmon pink 30 x rosea, fragrant
‘Peaches and Cream’ light pink 36 from Beth Chatto
‘Perkeo’ dark pink 6-12 x crispa
‘Pink’ purplish pink 36 chinensis var. tacquetii
‘Praecox’ light pink 16  late bloom
‘Professor van der Wielen’ white 36 loose spikes
*‘Pumila’ (var. pumila) light purple 12-24 dense spikes, chinensis
‘Purple Candles’ purple red 36 chinensis var. tacquetii
‘Purple Glory’ purple 24 dense spikes, chinensis
‘Purple Lance’ (‘Purpurlanze’) purple red 36-48 chinensis var. tacquetii, narrow
‘Purpurlanze’:’Purple Lance’      
‘Queen Alexandra’ deep pink 30 x rosea
‘Queen of Holland’ white, pinkish 30 bronze foliage
‘Red Charm’ red 36 arching panicles
‘Red Light’ (‘Rotlicht’) deep red 28 dark green foliage
*‘Red Sentinel’ red 36 early bloom
*‘Rheinland’ clear pink 24  
‘Rose Veil’:’Rosenschleier’      
‘Rosenschleier’ (‘Rose Veil’) light pink 36  
‘Rotlicht’:’Red Light’      
‘Saxatilis’: glaberrima saxatilis purple 3-6 bronze foliage
‘Schemen’ lavender pink 24  
‘Serenade’ rosy pink 18 late bloom, chinensis
‘Sheila Haxton’ deep pink 24  
‘Snowdrift’ white 30 sport of ‘Irrlicht’
‘Spartan’ dark red 24-36 dark green foliage
‘Spatsummer’ bright rose 24 very late bloom, chinensis
‘Spinell’ salmon red 36  
*‘Sprite’ light pink 12-18 simplicifolia, bronze foliage
‘Strassenfeder’:’Ostrich Plume’      
*‘Superba’ light purple 40 chinensis var. tacquetii
‘Venus’ bright pink 36 feathery panicles
‘Veronica Klose’ purple rose 24 chinensis
‘Vesuvius’ bright salmon 24 early bloom
‘Visions’ pink purple 18 bronze green foliage, chinensis
‘Washington’ white 24-30 glossy leaves
‘Weisse Gloria’:’White Gloria’      
*‘White Gloria’ (‘Weisse Gloria’) white 24 early, dense panicles
*‘William Buchanan’ pale pink 6-10 simplicifolia, dense curly foliage

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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