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How to Care For False Goat’s Beard (Astilbe)

Last Updated on September 15, 2022 by Plant Mom Care

False goat’s beard or Astilbe, a genus consisting of 18 species of rhizomatous plants from the Saxifragaceae family, is indigenous to the woodlands and mountain ravines in Asia including North America. 

The growth pattern of these evergreen perennials varies according to different species – some species are dwarves about 6 inches high, while others can reach as high as 24 inches. Their spread also varies from 6 inches to about 5 feet wide.

false goats beard garden care seeds growing in pots

Their foliage is a beautiful dark green, sometimes bronze, burgundy, bright chartreuse, and chocolate in spring.

Their striking bottlebrush-shaped and feathery flowers grow on 6 – 24-inch high flower spikes in clusters in colors that include light pink, creamy white, lilac, bright red, and deep purple, adding color to gardens in summer. Several hybrids have been developed.

This species is categorized as early spring, spring/summer, and late summer flowers. Growing a combination of these different species can stretch the flowering season from May to September, filling your garden with colors that change as the season progresses.

The flowering period lasts around 4 – 6 weeks until the flower plumes reach maturity and continue looking good as they dry and fade on the plant. Deadheading is not necessary as they will not flower again in the season.

These relatively slow-growers will flower for several years once they are settled down and established before needing division. The flowers of some species have a powerful and pleasant fragrance.

The types most commonly cultivated in gardens are cultivars of A. Chinensis or cultivars of a hybrid A. x arendsii that was created by cross-breeding A. thunbergii, A. chinensis, and A. astilboides. A. chinensis is good to grow as a groundcover. 

These hardy perennials are grown by gardeners for both their large, attractive, fern-like leaves in some species and their dense and feathery flower plumes.

The species are frequently planted around ponds, brightening up corners in the garden, and can thrive in bog gardens or as edging plants near water or damp woodland locations.

They create beautiful landscapes of fresh, lovely colors and pleasing fragrances when they are planted under oaks and maples and near streams. They also provide a good textural contrast when planted near plants with big leaves such as hosta, heuchera, and Ligularia, they also do well in containers.


False Goat’s Beard Light Requirements

They prefer partial to full shade, adding color to shady parts of your garden, and can even survive the full sun. When temperatures rise in arid regions, the full sun will damage the leaves, turning them brown and dry in such climates, they should be planted under shade and given lots of water.


False Goat’s Beard Watering

As mentioned above, during hot weather or exposure to full sun, these plants need lots of moisture. They aren’t drought-tolerant and will die if left dry for too long. 


False Goat’s Beard Humidity

They prefer normal to moderate humidity.


False Goat’s Beard Temperature

These plants grow better in temperatures between 50 – 75°F and generally thrive in zones 3 through 8, with a few species even handling temperatures as low as -35oF.

They can essentially tolerate very hot weather if they are provided with lots of water and are growing in a shady spot. At the first sign of frost, apply mulch near the stems to regulate soil temperature.


False Goat’s Beard Soil

These plants grow best in moist rich and organic slightly acidic soil that drains well. They can also tolerate clay soil, provided it is combined with perlite, compost, and sand to improve drainage capacity. If you have poor or rocky soil, add some compost to enrich it.


False Goat’s Beard Repotting

These plants, when grown in containers, need repotting if they outgrow their existing container. This process is simple although it might be stressful to the plants if it’s not done properly.

Two clues will guide you if you’re uncertain whether or not the plants need repotting – roots visible outside the drainage holes of the container or water draining out without being retained by the soil. 

Begin by carefully taking the plant out of its current home. Examine the roots and gently separate them and loosen old soil if the roots seem tightly compacted. Choose a new container 2 – 3 times larger with a few drainage holes.

These plants like wet conditions, so use a non-porous or plastic pot that will retain moisture. Fill the bottom with 1 to 2 inches of potting soil and place the plant inside, filling in the empty spaces with more soil.

When you’re finished, the roots should be covered with the plant’s crown sitting just below the container rim. Afterward, water the plant deeply to lessen transplant shock. 


False Goat’s Beard Propagation

These plants are propagated by dividing them every 4 or 5 years. Under ideal growing conditions, their rate of growth and spread might increase, requiring frequent division.

Split apart the clumps and replant them elsewhere. They can also be transplanted in containers to settle down before they’re transferred into the garden in summer.

Propagation from seeds isn’t recommended as they’re hard to germinate and have limited viability. 

Additional Care

They need fertilizers rich with phosphorus to flower – a 5-10-5 ratio is suitable and must be raked into the soil every spring or 2 weeks before planting. Adding compost over the soil is also helpful. 

While these plants require almost no maintenance, a good combination of shade and water is necessary to prevent the leaves from burning or drying. 

Dried flowers can be pruned when the flowering season ends as they will still look beautiful for months. 

False Goat’s Beard Common Problems

They are usually free from insect pests and diseases but can suffer damage from groundhogs and rabbits snacking on young leaves and stems. 

They can occasionally get infested by tarnished plant bugs. These bugs are abundant throughout North America and feed on their foliage, flowers, and buds by sucking sap, injecting a toxic enzyme that helps break down plant tissue and causes plenty of damage.

Plants with serious infestations might have to be sprayed with pyrethrin – this is mildly toxic for humans so wear protective equipment.

They can also be affected on rare occasions by powdery mildew and/or leaf spot.

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