The Q&A Archives: Astilbe

Question: I have an astilbe that I planted in a shady area about 5 years ago. It wasn't doing very well there so about 3 years ago I moved it to a sunnier location. The first 2 years it did beautifully but this year it looks terrible. The leaves seem to be all droopy and the tops of them seem to just crumble. It just seem like its shriveling up. What could be the problem?

Answer: Astilbe's are not generally prone to disease so it sounds like your plant is responding to some kind of environmental stress. Perhaps a late cold-snap that affected the foliage as it was just emerging or newly emerged, or there's some moisture stress. Astilbes are tolerant of a range of soil types, but grow best in rich, moist, well-draining soil. If the soil is too dry, or remains wet, your plant won't thrive. Cut back the dead foliage and provide your plant with water on a weekly basis, applying enough to thoroughly wet the root mass. If it doesn't perk up and produce new foliage, you may have to dig it up and examine the root area. Healthy roots are creamy white inside. Break a few in half to see if they're alive. If not, cut away the dead portions, amend the soil and replant the Astilbe. This should get it back on the road to recovery.

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