Fanal AstilbeAstilbe Arendsii Hybrid 'Fanal'
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Astilbe Arendsii Hybrid 'Fanal'
Outdoor Growing zone
Partial Sun, Shade
The Fanal Astilbe is one of the earliest astilbe to bloom, and is usually flowering by July. Blooms last for weeks, and are even attractive when they become brown. The ferny leaves are dark burgundy-green, and this really sets off the beautiful pomegranate red fluffy spikes of bloom. These can grow to 3 feet in ideal conditions, but are usually lower. A perfect plant to grow beside water or in partial shade, wherever you have moist to wet ground. Tolerates some sun in cool zones.
the Fanal Astilbe will grow in full sun in cool zones, and everywhere else, into light full shade. Moisture is essential, so avoid dry soil and water regularly during hot weather. It enjoys wet ground as well as ordinary moist soil, but don’t plant directly in water. This variety is more tolerant of drier soils than many others. It doesn’t suffer from pests or diseases at all, and both deer and rabbits give it a miss. A simple annual cut-down in fall or early spring is all it takes – one of the easiest and most attractive perennials you will find. Water new plants regularly for the first two years.
Dealing with shade in your garden is so much easier than it used to be. All the amazing Hosta plants that we have give us a spectacular backbone for planting, and Astilbe stand second in giving contrast and wonderful color. Their ferny foliage is always attractive, and the summer blooms fit perfectly into shady areas. Yes, moisture is needed, but if you can provide that, Astilbe is your friend. Many of the Astilbe plants we grow are hybrids created early last century by Georg Arends, who owned a nursery in Germany. In 1933 he introduced the Fanal Astilbe, and it is so good that it remains today one of the most popular of them all. Combining moderate size with rich color, it’s a killer combination of garden merits, so no wonder it outperforms many much later introductions. So for reliability that has stood the test of time, and when you want a darker color against all the whites and pinks of most Astilbe, the Fanal Astilbe is your obvious best choice.
The Fanal Astilbe is a perennial plant that dies down to the ground each winter, re-sprouting in spring, the following year. This is a sturdy, long-lived plant that will persist in your garden for many years, becoming larger and more striking with each year that passes. The foliage is divided into many tiny leaflets, so that the plant has a ferny look, while still being dense and bushy. The individual leaflets are about 2 inches long, with 12 or 15 per leaf. The foliage makes a broad mound 12 to 18 inches tall and up to 2 feet wide, filling the space with a look that is dense, yet airy. The leaves are dark green with burgundy-red tones, brighter and lighter on young growth, becoming a solid, deep red-green as the leaves mature.
The flower spikes are slender, rising above the foliage to stand almost 3 feet tall on mature plants in ideal conditions, but usually about 2 feet tall in average soils – a good intermediate size that works in gardens of all sizes. Each spike rises as a single stem and then branches into many side-branches that stand upright, making a slender spike. The tiny flowers cluster in abundance along the stems, there can be many hundreds on a single spike, and they are deep pink-red, a color that isn’t common in Astilbe. Plants flower in July and last in full color for several weeks. The flowers gradually turn brown-beige, and still look attractive – many gardeners leave them standing through fall and even into the winter – the choice of when to remove them is yours.
The Fanal Astilbe would be perfect to plant in any shady area, alone or with other shade-loving plants, such as shrubs like azalea and gardenia, or other perennials like Hosta and Ferns. Plant it along a path or near water, or beneath deciduous trees and shrubs. It could also be grown in a pot, for an attractive effect on a shady terrace.
The Fanal Astilbe will grow without any special protection in zone 4, and all the way into zone 8.
Partial shade, perhaps a little morning sun and shade for the rest of the day – is ideal for the Fanal Astilbe in most zones. In the hottest areas full shade is preferable, and good everywhere, especially if it is light and not dense under low-hanging branches. If the soil is always moist it will grow in full sun in zones 3 and 4. The ideal soil can be either acidic or slightly alkaline, and should be rich and moist for the best results. This plant will grow in wet soil, but not directly in water. Use plenty of organic material when preparing planting spots, and water new plants frequently throughout the first season, as new plants are slow to spread their roots. Continue to water regularly during the second growing season, and after that plants will be a little more tolerant of drier conditions. Mulch with organic material in spring or early fall is helpful too.
This plant is very easy to grow, free of pests or diseases and ignored by deer or rabbits – no wonder astilbe are so popular. A simple cut back to the ground once a year in late fall or early spring is all the work needed – you can remove flower spikes then or whenever suits your taste. Leaves will fall naturally in cooler zones, and don’t even need to be gathered up unless you want to.
The Japanese astilbe, Astilbe japonica, was the first species of astilbe introduced into gardens, in the 1800s. With its gray-white flowers it didn’t create a lot of interest, but later Astilbe davidii, which has pink flowers, was introduced from China. By 1900, Georg Arends, who had a nursery in North Germany, was crossing these species together and selecting the best, making further crosses between them. In time he developed much more vigorous and attractive plants, and began to find new colors. By the 20s and 30s he was releasing varieties we still grow today, and these are collectively known as Arendsii Hybrids. In 1933 he released the variety called ‘Fanal’, which means beacon in German, and the new red color was a sensation. Still today it is the most popular of all astilbe, the perfect combination of compact size, handsome foliage and deep, rich flower color.
Some plant breeders have left us an amazing legacy, and none more than Georg Arends. His ‘beacon’ still shines across many gardens, and it will shine across yours too, with so little effort. Astilbe are not hard to grow if you have moist soil, and this one is outstanding. Order now – the most popular is often the best, so the Fanal Astilbe is always attracting customers and sells out fast.