Named after the famous Key West pink (bright, bright pink) that derives from the beautiful hue on the inside of the Queen Conch shell, this plant literally lights up any shady area. (The Queen Conch is the symbol of Floridas Southernmost island city.)
Easy to grow, tough and hardy, astilbes are now a mainstay in all good perennial gardens. In fact, American gardeners are in the midst of a passionate love affair with astilbes. Native to the far east, these beautiful plants and their hybrids have revolutionized the perennial possibilites of moist, shaded American gardens. Astilbes are companions of ferns and impatiens--some of the few flowers that make big color in full or partial shade.
The vast majority of the scores of hybrids now available are the work of one man, master hybridizer Georg Arends (Yes, thats why you keep seeing arendsii tacked onto hybrid names.) Mr. Arends, working in Ronsdorf, Germany spent decades hybridizing sedums, phlox, campanulas....and his first love, astilbes. In 1933, Arends introduced 74 different astilbe cultivars, and there have been hundreds since.
These plume-flowered plants have ultra-handsome fern-like foliage, (usually dark glossy green) and stiff stems that always hold the elegant plumes aloft without any staking. Flower arrangers find the flower plumes are just as handsome in a vase as in a garden.
From tiny dwarfs to big draping hybrids, astilbes are all quite easy to grow, as long as their ground does not dry out for long. They must have plenty of moisture, so choose your locations carefully.