Cultivating the Astilbe and Aubrietia

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The Astilbe are hardy herbaceous and shrubby perennials. Several species and varieties commonly known as spiraeas are now classed under this heading, including the hybrids with Spirae astilboides, which are very useful for forcing in the cool greenhouse.

In terms of cultivation the astilbes have a universal liking for a deep, moist, rich soil. Astilbe Davidi and Astilbe rivularis in particular are essentially moisture-loving plants. Planting can be carried out in either autumn or spring. Care should be taken to avoid overcrowding the plants, as with most species the foliage is little less decorative than the flowers, and the natural beauty of the plants is only appreciated when they are given ample room in which to develop. For greenhouse culture the roots of the hybrids should be potted as early as possible in the autumn and at once plunged in a bed of ashes out of doors to encourage strong root growth. Within a month or six weeks they can be taken in�doors and gradually inured to the effects of light, air, and heat. During the growing period an abundance of water is required, and when in flower it is advisable to stand the pots in earthenware saucers to ensure that they do not suffer from lack of moisture at the roots.

Astilbes are widely recognized for their profuse blooms in full shade. They are widely adapted to water-logged conditions, and tolerate clay soils well. Numerous hybrids have been raised. Astilbe is a tall feathery flowered plant popular as a pond side feature, due to its previously described growing conditions.

Propagation is most easily effected by division of the root stocks in spring or autumn. Large clumps can, if necessary, be divided up into single crowns.

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Author: Ian SG Smith
Ian has a great interest in gardening and writes occasional articles. Come and visit his newest website at , and look particularly at the

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