Photo: Astilbe 'Pumila'

Astilbe 'Pumila'
Astilbe 'Pumila'
Astilbe 'Pumila'

General description

Common Name: Chinese astilbe
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Saxifragaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Native Range: Siberia, China, Korea
Garden Location: Enterprise Rent-A-Car Flower Borders, Ameren Ground Cover Border
Height: 0.75 to 1 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1 feet
Bloom Time: May to August
Bloom Color: Pink
Bloom Description: Mauve pink
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flowers: Showy Flowers
Tolerates: Dense Shade, Black Walnuts, Deer, Rabbits
Uses: Cut Flower, Groundcover, Rain Garden

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers moist, humusy, organically rich soils. Soils must not be allowed to dry out. If regularly watered, foliage will usually remain attractive throughout the growing season. A summer compost mulch helps retain soil moisture. Chinese astilbes are generally noted, however, for having better sun and drought tolerance than other species of astilbe. Removing faded flower stalks will not prolong bloom but may improve plant appearance, particularly if a ground cover look is desired. On the other hand, many gardeners leave the flower stalks in place after bloom because of the continuing ornamental interest of the dried seed heads. Divide clumps when overcrowding occurs (every 3-4 years).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Astilbes are mainstays of shade and woodland gardens. They are clump-forming perennials which feature graceful, fern-like mounds of mostly basal, 2-3 ternately compound leaves, usually with sharply-toothed leaflets, and tiny flowers densely packed into erect to arching, plume-like flower panicles rising above the foliage on slender, upright stems. Chinese astilbes are slowly spreading, rhizomatous plants which bloom later than the Arendsii hybrids and generally feature hairy, biserrate, elliptic-oval, 3-ternate leaflets. The botanical variety pumila is a dwarf plant which spreads more quickly than most other Chinese astilbes. It features a foliage mound to 6” tall of dark green leaves and thick, stiff panicles of lilac-pink flowers on 9-12” tall stems in early to mid-summer.

Plant of Merit

This dwarf Chinese astilbe spreads by rhizomes to form an attractive 6-inch tall ground cover of compound, fern-like, dark green leaves. Tiny lilac-pink flowers densely packed into upright, plume-like, branched flower stalks rise above the foliage to 1 foot tall in early summer. Foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season as long as soils are kept consistently moist. Mass or group this versatile perennial in shaded areas of rock gardens, borders, shade gardens, woodland areas or along pond/stream banks. Also effective as an edging plant.


No serious insect or disease problems. Foliage decline (leaves brown up) may occur in hot summers and/or periods of drought if soils are not kept moist. Although Chinese astilbes have better drought tolerance than most other astilbes, they still do best with uniformly moist soils.

Garden Uses

Mass or group in shade gardens, woodland gardens and shaded areas of border fronts or cottage gardens. Drought tolerance and dwarf size facilitate use in shaded areas of rock gardens. Excellent spreading ground cover or edging plant for shady areas. Also effective on pond or stream banks.


60 - 80 cm
Partial shade, Full shade
Moist but well-drained