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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Astilbe Amethyst: Another Awesome Perennial

The Astilbe family is one of  the politest collection of flowering perennials. Not only do these plants grow almost maintenance-free, but they bloom in colors that cooperate, behave, and blend in well with practically every garden color scheme.

With bloom periods ranging from June until September, one can enjoy this plant all season long. In addition, the heights of different Astilbes vary so greatly, that an assorted collection, randomly planted in a flowerbed, might resemble scattered notes on sheet music. No wonder landscape architects use them, albeit sparingly, when they are obliged to add neat flowers to their serene, green plant compositions.

Astilbes grow in, tight, upright clumps that increase in size slowly. There are no spreading roots systems that require controlling, no messy sprawl, no staking of its flowering, feathery spikes, almost no pest, bug, or fungus problems, no additional nutrients required, no winter protection, and in colder climates, no exponential growth from one season to the next.

In fact, when the blooms have dies, the elegant, brown spiky seed heads add texture and vertical architectural detail to the garden. Furthermore, the Astilbe colors, even though they span every shade of pink, mauve, violet, red, peach, and cream - to - white, never appear garish, bold, or offensive.

However, one Astilbe does not conform to this modesty. The variety Amethyst is a scintillating pink extravaganza. It sizzles in the sun, where it ought not to be, like a display of fireworks, and glows intensely in shade and part - shade in vivid tones of lavender - pink. As a specimen plant, it is breathtaking; and when combined with other perennials in the garden, it is transformational.

At maturity, A. Amethyst reaches 40 inches in height and two feet in width. It performs best in a moist garden situated in part to full shade. However, mine is planted in damp sun, where the daylight makes the flower heads sparkle, and it is doing just fine.

I purchased  this variety last year for my test garden because I had never seen it in bloom and because the trade description suggested that it might be an ideal addition to my repertoire of elegant, tall perennials. I was not disappointed. The combination of good height, architectural presence, and intense color makes this versatile perennial a traffic stopper.

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Reader Comments (8)

Hi Allan,

I have a lot of Astilbe but I couldn't even photograph them this year. They just fried in the heat and turned grey after a few days. If this type of weather continues for our summers I may not be able to grow them.


July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGatsbys Gardens

Don't forget Astilbes are some of the best perennials for division. I just divided three large (4 year-old plants) this year and yielded 21 new plants, all of which flowered two months after division.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterReed Pugh

Astilbes have really grown on me over the years. Is 'Amethyst' a A. chinensis or one of the regular hybrids? If it is the former that would account for its robust nature.

You know, amazingly, I have never grown Astilbe until this year...I finally bit the bullet! I think I always thought they were fussy, for some reason, but the one I have is totally care-free...and I love it!

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott Weber

A. Amethyst is an "arendsi" hybrid.

July 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterAllan

I love this Astilbe! I've had great luck with it in the Northeast, but mediocre luck with it here in the mid-Atlantic. Too bloody hot I think. In the right spot, they perform well, but they have to be irrigated.

July 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

Lovely plants, so light and airy, colours are great too.

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark

can you plant these plants in July in NNY ? I didn't get mine in in the spring and am wondering if I should wait til next year to plant the bulbs ?

July 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterreenie

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