Astilbe is a shade-loving, flowering perennial that lives in zones 3 through 9. This clump-forming plant will gradually fill a mixed bed or border with feathery inflorescences of bright pink, purple, red, or white flowers. The bold flowers bloom in spring and summer, introduce color, and attract pollinators like butterflies. Astilbe can grow one to three feet tall, depending on the cultivar, making this plant well suited to the middle or back of beds or containers.
While astilbe looks stunning on its own, this perennial is a good choice for a mixed bed, especially butterfly gardens or any space needing eye-catching and dependable color. Astilbe requires partial sun to shade and damp soil that is slightly acidic to neutral.
Shrubs To Plant With Astilbe
Shrubs that can easily handle partial sun to shade and damp conditions are suitable to feature alongside astilbe. Plant astilbe in front of or between rhododendrons and Japanese maples or feature all three plants in the same mixed planting. Both of these shrubs/trees can handle more sunlight than the astilbe, so plant them to the south so they intercept the bright sunlight and cast shade on the astilbe.
Rhododendrons and azaleas bloom in the spring, as does astilbe, so there will be overlap during the bloom cycles. Astilbe continues to bloom during the summer, so the space will remain vibrant after the shrubs have dropped their flowers. The brightly colored astilbe flowers stand out against the green foliage of rhododendrons and maples.
Perennials To Plant With Astilbe
A bed filled with mixed perennials is low maintenance but dependable. Spring and summer blooming astilbe provides a nice, colorful complement to blooming perennials like irises. Lovely flowers that bloom from May into June stand above lush foliage, and while irises do not bloom long, the flowers are worth the limited showing. Astilbe will still be going strong by the time the irises fade around mid-summer.
Let the blooming astilbe stand out by pairing it with hostas. The large leafy hosta plants thrive in partial sun and shade, much like astilbe. Layer these plants in a bed based on how tall they will stand and feature larger plants in the back. Hosta plants bloom, but these plants are grown more for their foliage, which is an excellent background for astilbe and continues filling out a bed or border until the first frost.
Annuals To Plant With Astilbe
Colorful coleus is a nice companion for astilbe because the bold leaves feature similar colorways as the astilbe flowers for a coordinated look. Both the annual coleus and perennial astilbe require more shade than sunlight, making them good neighbors for one another.
Consider impatiens if you’re more interested in a flowering annual to feature alongside astilbe. While astilbe is tall and features flowers that bloom on tall spikes, impatiens have a mounded growth habit and boast larger, single flowers in equally bold colors. These plants have contrasting looks but still coordinate and provide height and texture to a mixed bed.
Best Companion Plants For Astilbe in Containers
Astilbe makes for a wonderful container planting, taking on the thriller role and adding height and feathery flower plumes. Match astilbe with vibrant colored coral bells. The leafy and low-growing coral bells adds drama to a container. Coral bells bloom, and the tall flowers complement astilbe, but some gardeners choose to prune the flowering stems to get the most out of the foliage.
Plants Not To Grow With Astilbe
Plants with drastically different care needs cannot live together because for one plant to thrive, the other will suffer. Damp conditions and partial sun to shade are necessary for astilbe to thrive, so sun-loving coneflowers, daylilies, and hibiscus cannot live in the same conditions as astilbe. Sedum or stonecrop is another plant that craves sunlight but also needs dry soil to live its best life, making it a bad companion for astilbe.
Best Plants To Grow With Astilbe
Plants have different sunlight requirements, and plants like hosta and coral bells are good pairings that closely align with astilbe. Plants with some overlap in their care can also be a good fit, like iris. Irises need more bright light, but the low end of their sunlight requirements overlaps with astilbe’s sunlight range, allowing them to live together comfortably.