Astilbe Chinensis Pumila
Facts Regarding The Astilbe Chinensis Pumila
The Astilbe chinensis pumila is a variety of the Chinese astilbe, a flowering plant valued for its light plume like flower clusters, varied colors, and attractive foliage. The astilbe is sometimes called the False Spirea. Most astilbe plants sold are hybrids. Varieties such as the astilbe chinensis pumila can at times be more difficult to locate. It is a member of the Saxifragaceae family. There are several varieties of Chinese astilbe, with the pumila variety generally considered to be the dwarf of the group.
A Native Of The Far East - A native of China, Siberia, and the Korean peninsula, this herbaceous perennial is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8. It prefers partial to full shade, and is particularly attractive in shady spots near ponds and streams. The Astilbe chinensis pumila has better sun tolerance than most varieties of astilbe, and is also somewhat more drought tolerant.
Pumila Makes An Excellent Ground Cover - You might choose the Astilbe chinensis pumila if you are looking for ground cover. This dwarf variety spreads more quickly than most of the other varieties of Chinese astilbe. The foliage generally grows to no more than 6" in height, with the flowering plumes adding another few inches. The foliage remains very attractive long after blooming has ceased. The blooms themselves are quite showy and good as cut flowers. Cutting off the flower stems whether the blooms are fresh or spent, will not cause additional blooming, but generally improves the appearance of the foliage through the rest of the growing season.
A Summer Bloomer With Attractive Foliage All Season - Astilbe chinensis pumila blooms in early to mid-summer. The blossoms are typically lilac-pink in color. The dried seed heads are themselves quite attractive, and many gardeners choose not to remove the stems once the blossoms have died back. This variety blooms somewhat later than most other varieties of astilbe, and later than is the case with most hybrids as well.
General Astilbe Culture - Plant the astilbe in moist, organically rich soil. This plant only requires average watering, but if the soil is kept moist the foliage will remain quite attractive throughout the growing season. Application of a summer mulch is a good idea in warm weather areas to retain moisture. Application of a protective mulch is advisable in areas where the winters are very cold, but given the plant's origins, it is obvious that it can manage quite well in locations where the winters can be rather severe. Whether planted as a ground cover or in clumps, it is advisable to divide clumps every 3 to 4 years to avoid overcrowding.
Other Types Of Astilbe - If you have success with the Astilbe chinensis pumila, one or more of the other varieties of astilbe might be of interest. Unlike the dwarf pumila, the variety Astilbe taquetii superba is a tall variety, often reaching 4' in height. Though not suitable as ground cover at this height, the variety is very attractive when planted in small clusters. Several of the better known astilbe hybrids are “Avalanche”, featuring 2' stems with white flowers, “Glow”, with its ruby red flowers, “Deutschland”, with creamy white blossoms, and “Rhineland” which has bright pink blossoms. Like Avalanche, the other hybrids run in the neighborhood of 2' in height. The hybrids in particular are very popular as container plants.
At the first chance you get, stop by a nursery when astilbes are in bloom, and you'll agree that these are very special plants. Otherwise, checking out photographs in plant catalogs or on the Internet will give you a very good idea as to where this plant will fit in your garden. In photographs the blooms are likely to be highlighted, but don't forget about the attractive foliage, especially if you have ground cover in mind.