Astilbe Fanal

Tips for Growing Astilbe Fanal

            An easy way to add beauty and grace to a landscape is to include the perennial called Astilbe Fanal.  Once only found in its native land in the Far East, the astilbes have grown in popularity in the United States and are now found in numerous gardens across the country.

            One of the biggest appeals of astilbe plants is their affinity for the shade. Few shade plants are as lovely and as eye catching as the feathery blooms of any member of the astilbe family.  Locations that receive full shade or partial sun are often difficult to landscape, as there are a limited number of flowering plants that are successful without a good deal of sun.  The astilbe is the exception.  Large splashes of color ranging from white to purple to deepest red can adorn those areas that are moist and cool with a brilliance never thought possible in shaded areas.

            Many hybrids of the original astilbe were developed by a German master hybridizer, Georg Arends.  He began working on the new species in the early 1900’s, introducing 74 new cultivars in 1933 alone.  Since that time, numerous additional hybrids have emerged; one of which is the incredibly beautiful astilbe fanal.

            A medium tall plant when mature, the fanal is distinctive in both its blooms and its foliage.  The fern like stems and leaves provide an airy look to the shaded areas it loves so well.  Green to bronze in color, the foliage remains lovely throughout the season even when not in bloom.  Buds usually begin to appear in late June or early July, and soon the plants are topped with incredible 12” long spires of clustered blooms.  The fanal is most acclaimed for its plumes, which are a brilliant scarlet; clearly the deepest red of all the astilbes.

            Choosing the location for planting astilbe requires two main considerations.  The area should receive only filtered sunlight, and the soil should be moist and rich.  Peat moss can be added to the soil to enhance its moisture retention abilities if needed.  Once planted, the astilbe should be mulched well with a material that will assist in holding in the much needed moisture.

Astilbes can be purchased in one of two forms:  bare root or potted plants.  Planting astilbe fanal in the shaded garden area is usually best done in the fall, but can be planted in the spring after the danger of frost has passed.  The dazzling display of the blood red blooms becomes even more spectacular when the plants are placed in groups.  To achieve the best show, place the plants at least 12 to 18 inches apart to allow the foliage to bush out in a more dense fashion.

If the location you have chosen for the astilbe is ideal, the plants will flourish.  After one or two years of good growth, the astilbe plant will need to be divided.  To do this, dig up the plant after all blooms have faded.  Using your hands, simply pull the roots into several large pieces and replant, keeping the distance between plants consistent with the rest.

For those shaded locations in your yard that lack interest, an ideal remedy is to introduce the astilbe fanal.  Its spectacular scarlet blooms add grace and stunning color to an otherwise drab area, and even after they die away, the beautiful and feathery foliage will increase the appeal of the area throughout the remainder of the season.  To enjoy the blooms even longer, the flowers can be dried for use as a decorative arrangement.

Becoming more and more popular in the United States, the astilbe has come a long way in the gardening world as a favorite shade perennial.