Vision in Pink AstilbeAstilbe chinensis 'Vision in Pink'
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Astilbe chinensis 'Vision in Pink'
Outdoor Growing zone
The Vision in Pink Astilbe is a selection of the Chinese astilbe, a species know for its higher tolerance of sun and dry soil than other astilbe are. It grows 18 to 24 inches tall, with upright spikes of many fluffy pink flowers topping a low mound of striking foliage. Grow it along streams and by water, or in shady beds, and in normal beds of flowering plants. It makes a very attractive edging for borders of spring shrubs, or planted along a pathway. Grow it everywhere from the most formal settings to natural woodlands.
The Vision in Pink Astilbe enjoys a wide range of light conditions, from full sun to moderate full shade. Avoid very dark places and hot spots in full sun, especially in warmer zones. The best soil is moist and rich, but this plant is more tolerant of drier soil than most other astilbe. It also grows in wet, but not flooded, areas. It is pest and disease free and untouched by deer. Cut down to the ground in late fall or early spring, and that is all the care needed for the whole year. Keep new plants well-watered for the first couple of summers – after that it is more tolerant of some dryness.
When it comes to damp, shady places in the garden, astilbe is the go-to perennial for almost all gardeners. But sometimes we have areas that are a little more sunny, and drier, where we know those bold upright flower spikes would work perfectly. This is when it pays to know some more detail, because all astilbe are not created equal. The Chinese astilbe is a distinct species from others, with much better tolerance of drier places and of sun. Sure, it won’t thrive in day-long full sun and really dry soil, but it will be happy with full sun in cool zones if the soil is rich, and with morning sun in hotter zones. While other astilbe love damp and even wet soil, this species is happy in any ordinary garden soil that isn’t constantly dry, so it’s the ideal choice for ordinary gardens and trouble-free growing for admirers of these lovely plants. Many Chinese astilbe have rather ‘murky’ dark-colored pink flowers, but the Vision in Pink Astilbe is just that – glowing columns of bright-pink flowers that come late in summer and even into fall, bright, cheerful and a vision indeed – a vision of easy, colorful gardening that doesn’t take much care or attention to bring you success.
The Vision in Pink Astilbe is a perennial herbaceous plant. It dies down to the ground for winter, and comes back – thicker and more vigorous – each spring. It is long-lived and durable, with a sturdy underground root. First come the leaves, which are large – up to 15 inches long – but don’t look that way because each leaf is divided into 9 distinct leaflets, which are only 2 to 3 inches long. Each leaflet is glossy dark green, sometimes with bronzy-red tones, and oval with a pointed tip and a slightly frilly, deeply-toothed margin. The leaves arch over and spread outwards, making a low mound of very decorative foliage about 8 inches tall, which is attractive all through spring and early summer. This astilbe blooms later than most varieties, and it is midsummer before the flower spikes have risen above the foliage and begin to bloom. Many stems grow up, each one around 2 feet tall, and each one has a central stem with many, many short, upward-angled side stems that carry the tiny, bright-pink fluffy flowers. Bud color shows for about 3 weeks before the blooms gradually ‘fluff out’ as they open. Individual flowers last about a week, and with its slow and extended flower opening this plant gives about 2 months of color. Even when they turn brown in fall the flower stems are still attractive, and they could be left into the winter for decorative effect.
The natural home for astilbe is along streams and by water, and nothing looks nicer than the Vision in Pink Astilbe growing beside a pond, in moist soil (but not directly in the water). Plant it along a shady path, or among shade-loving spring plants, as a great way to extend the season. The Vision in Pink Astilbe is significantly more sun and dry-soil tolerant than other astilbe, so it can be used effectively in ordinary to dryish garden soils, even out in full sun in cool zones.
The Vision in Pink Astilbe is hardy from zone 4 to 8. Adjust the light levels and soil moisture to allow for stronger sun and dryness in warmer zones.
Growing in full sun in zone 4 in moist to average soil, the Vision in Pink Astilbe is usually best grown with morning sun and afternoon shade, or in light full shade. It grows well along the base of a north-facing wall too. The ideal soil is moist to wet, but not flooded and boggy, but ordinary garden soils are fine if you pay some attention to watering during hot weather. It grows in both acidic and alkaline soils.
This plant needs no support – the sturdy stems stand upright naturally. It is generally pest and disease free and left alone by deer. The only maintenance needed is to cut down to the ground in late fall or early spring, removing dead stems and leaves completely. This is a good moment to cover with an inch or two of mulch. Young plants should be watered regularly, and older plants watered during dry spells. The foliage may die from drought without being noticed, and new leaves are not produced after the first spring flush, so pay attention until you get a feel for the water needs of this plant.
Chinese astilbe, Astilbe chinensis, grows along streams and edging woodland in its natural home of China, Japan and Korea. It is distinct from the more common Arendsii hybrid astilbe, which have higher water and shade requirements. Only a limited number of varieties have been bred from the Chinese astilbe, and the most common is a tall one with dark pink blooms called ‘Superba’. In 1997 Gert van Buren, a grower in Hillegom, the Netherlands, took pollen from another variety called ‘Kremhilde’ and pollinated plants of ‘Superba’. He grew the seeds and among the many seedlings he found an outstanding, very vigorous and hardy plant with lovely bright pink flowers. He named it ‘Vision in Pink’ and released it in America through Future Plants V.O.F. of Noorden, the Netherlands. It was patented in 2001 (PP# 11,860) and this patent has just expired.
We love the beauty of this bright and long-blooming astilbe. We love even more how relatively easy the Vision in Pink Astilbe is to grow compared to many other varieties. If you have tried and failed with astilbe, this is the chance to try and succeed, but order right away because this popular variety will soon be gone.