Astilbe chinensis

CHINESE ASTILBE

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Astilbe chinensis
CHINESE ASTILBE

Astilbe chinensis makes elegant, upright flower towers of rich, dusky pink.

Elegant towers of ruby

Astilbe chinensis hybrids are very different because they flower in dense packed, very upright lances, rather than the arching, airy feathery plumes of other types. But it does give them a formal, elegant, imposing presence.
(Scroll down to “Growing” section below for plant details & how / where to grow).

Finest quality foliage

All astilbe chinensis hybrids are noted for their impressive foliage. And this is no exception.
It produces a dense clump of attractive foliage, which emerges deep red in spring and becomes dark bronze by summer.
Then of course the leaves go butter yellow in autumn.
The leaflets of chinensis hybrids are usually larger than other Astilbes, so the foliage is suitably imposing, just like the flower spears.

Exceptional flower production

Astilbe chinensis has a great production of flowers and foliage in an upright, smaller space, making it ideal for gardeners with limited space.
It is valued for having a particularly long blooming season, and long lasting flower spears.
And also has a later flowering period than other Astilbes, so will expand the period you can enjoy those gorgeous Astilbe blooms.

Excellent cut flowers

All Astilbes have commercial quality cut flowers, but Astilbe chinensis just goes that one step better.

More shade or sun

All Astilbes enjoy shaded conditions, but Astilbe chinensis thrives in more shade than most.
Similarly it is a little more tolerant of sun than other types.
But we must not run away with the idea they it won’t ever burn in hot sun.

Less water

And all Astilbes enjoy regular water, but happily Astilbe chinensis is less demanding for frequent watering than most.
So it can go that little bit longer between drinks.
However no matter how much we might wish – no Astilbe is drought hardy. Though Astilbe chinensis come closest.

SEED SOWING ADVICE:

INDOORS: Sow seed in a punnet on the surface of good quality seed raising mix.
Then gently press the seeds onto the surface of the mix, to ensure good contact.

Now barely cover seed, because light is needed for germination.
And you can use sieved mix, or fine grit, or vermiculite, or washed sand to sprinkle over the seeds.

Then place the sown punnet into a water bath (make sure the water level in the bath is below the surface of the mix).
So the moisture percolates up through the mix from the bottom to thoroughly moisten the mix throughout.
Soak for a short time until moisture appears on the surface of the mix, and then remove and drain.
Because the mix needs to be moist throughout, but not wet.

Now place the moist punnet in a warm, well-lit position (not in direct sun).

Temperatures of 15-20°C approx. are best for rapid and optimum germination.
You can use a temperature-controlled heat mat if you have one to encourage rapid germination, but it is not essential. A window-sill or well-lit corner is also fine.

Adding a clear plastic cover helps to retain moisture in the punnet.
And continue to keep the punnet moist by spraying the surface of the mix a fine spray water bottle, or re-soaking in the water bath, as required.
(If the punnet is light weight when you pick it up – the mix is drying out and needs another soak from below in the water bath).

Seedlings begin to emerge in approx. 30 days.

A “pretend winter” helps

However if the seeds are shy to germinate and have not appeared in 60 days, then the seeds need a period of chilling to break their natural dormancy. This is normal for plants from areas with cold winters.

So wrap the moist, sown punnet in cling-wrap, place in the fridge (not freezer) for 4-6 weeks (this mimics winter).
Then remove, unwrap, moisten, and return to a well-lit place for germination.

SEED COUNT: 300 seeds per pack approx.
(We always aim to exceed the stated seed count, and give a generous serve).

Growing: Astilbe chinensis

Height with flowers: Upright, densely packed spears to approx. 75cm. in summer.
Width: Forms a clump of broad, lobed foliage to a diameter of approx. 50cm.
Position: Astilbe chinensis prefers partial shade and woodland conditions with dappled light, to full shade. Chinensis hybrids are amongst the most shade tolerant of all Astilbes.
Soil: Astilbes will give of their best in loam. They love fertilizer and compost, and can happily have their feet in the water if necessary. They enjoy retentive soil, including clay based soils, with regular drinks.

Hardy & easy in the right spot

Frost: Astilbe are extremely frost hardy. So they are able to withstand frost to well below -20C.
Care: Astilbes are easy, low care plants, if they are given their preferred conditions. Then the only work required is to trim off spent flower stems to encourage a repeat of autumn blooms. And finally to chop them to the ground at the end of autumn.
Deer & Rabbit resistant: I would be heartbroken if marauding critters chewed off my gorgeous Astilbes. But fortunately they are not particularly attractive to rabbits, deer, slugs or snails.

Long season of colour and interest

Growth: Deciduous hardy perennial.
And Astilbe chinensis has wonderful bright flame-butter yellow autumn foliage. So it is dormant over winter, before re-emerging with marvellous red new spring foliage. Then flowering again in the spring and summer. So they have a very long season of interest in the garden.
Beneficial for wildlife: Butterflies are particularly attracted to the myriad of tiny nectar rich blossoms that make up feathery Astilbe plumes.
Fragrance: ‘Little Vision in Red’ also has a light, sweet fragrance, unlike most other Astilbes.
Origin: No prizes for guessing Astilbe chinensis come from the forests of China. However they have been hybridized, bred and treasured by gardeners since time immemorial.

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