Vision In Red AstilbeAstilbe chinensis ‘Vision in Red’
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Astilbe chinensis ‘Vision in Red’
Outdoor Growing zone
Partial Sun, Shade
The Vision in Red Astilbe is indeed a vision – of late blooming glory and of greater sun and dryness resistance. You get these benefits from this lovely perennials, with the rich raspberry red of the flower spikes – slender, upright and coming after the main blooming of most other varieties. Plus, although still needing reasonable amounts of water, you will find it much more durable and able to grow in sun and drier soils, expanding its use to many of your garden beds. It is gorgeous by water, of course, but also fronting shrub beds, lining a path, growing between big bold hosta plants, and just about anywhere but those hot and dry places. About 2 feet tall in bloom, the strongly-upright flower spikes have characteristic fluffy flower clusters at a tight angle, giving a slender look with lots of impact. The dark green foliage is glossy and fern-like, and less likely to shrivel in summer once plants are established.
You can successfully grow the Vision in Red Astilbe in full sun in cooler zones if the soil is not dry, and in partial to light full shade everywhere. It grows best in moist, well-drained soil, but takes a little dryness, once established, and will also grow in wet ground. Preferring some added organic material, it isn’t fussy about soil type of quality. Super-easy to grow – but water regularly while young – it also isn’t bothered by pests, diseases, rabbits or deer. You can leave the flower spikes all winter if you like, and trim them back in spring. The leaves usually fall naturally and disappear, or they can be trimmed once they begin to yellow.
The secret to getting the most out of astilbe plants in your garden is to plant a variety of them. If your vision is of long periods of flowering, with plants that will grow in a variety of light levels, then the Vision Series is the way to go. These varieties of the Chinese astilbe have two advantages over most other astilbe. The grow in drier and sunnier conditions, and they bloom later. They allow you to use astilbe more widely in your garden – always a good thing with such a low-maintenance plant. With so many varieties of astilbe available, the distinction of the Chinese astilbe has been largely lost, and few gardeners realize how much better it is in dry conditions – until they try it. If you love the look of these plants – and who doesn’t? – but have failed with them in the past, then these varieties of Chinese astilbe are the way to go. Top of the list, and considered the best of them all, the Vision in Red Astilbe has flowers that are brilliant purple-red and its compact form makes it a great garden choice for everyone.
The Vision in Red Astilbe is a perennial herbaceous plant. That is, it grows leaves and flowers through the summer, and then in fall dies back to a woody root that sits just below the soil surface. Then it comes back again the next year, stronger than before. In spring leaves rise up to form a clump or low arching leaves no more than a foot tall. The leaves are actually large – about 15 inches long, but you won’t notice that because they are divided into around 15 smaller leaflets, each about 2 inches long. These have a thicker texture, and are less glossy, than we see in most astilbe, and they arch wider, with a very dark green coloring. They have deeply-toothed edges and hold their color well into fall, before turning yellow and dropping off.
The flower stems emerge later than normal, and this plant isn’t in flower until the second-half of July, when most others have finished. This makes it great for extending the astilbe season in your garden. The stems grow to almost 2 ½ feet in ideal conditions, and the buds show pinkish for about 3 weeks before opening into a dense, narrow head of fluffy flowers that are a brilliant raspberry-purple to purple-red color (not a true ‘firetruck’ red). Flowers open slowly, and including the bud period, this plant shows color for up to 2 months, peaking by the end of July. After blooming the flower stems don’t turn the attractive tans of other astilbe, and we recommend removing them once they become less attractive.
This plant is right at home in a shade garden, with other shade-loving plants, where it will grow well and show its best. However it is especially valuable in border-line areas where there is a bit too much sun, or the soil tends to dry a little too much for astilbe – but you want them. The Vision in Red Astilbe is the answer to that dilemma, with significantly greater resistance to sun and drier soils.
The Vision in Red Astilbe is hardy from zone 4 to 8. It has the best sun and dryness resistance in cooler zones.
So sun-tolerant is this plant that you can place it out in full sun in zone 4, if the soil is generally moist. Otherwise plant in partial shade, with some morning sun, or in light full shade beneath trees and shrubs, or along the foot of a north-facing wall. The best soil is rich and always moist. It can even be wet, but don’t plant directly in water. This special variety will also grow in regular garden soils. It is important to water new plants frequently for at least the first season, and preferably for two seasons, to get the maximum sun and dryness resistance.
Unlike some taller Chinese astilbe varieties, the Vision in Red Astilbe stands strong and upright, and never needs staking. Deer and rabbits leave it alone, and so do pests and diseases, which are virtually unknown. Remove spent flower stems as they lose they appeal, and cut everything down in late fall to the ground. Cover the plant with an inch of organic material mulch at that time too. Nothing else is needed.
In China, Japan and Korea you can find a unique species of astilbe called Astilbe chinensis growing at the edges of woods and on stream banks. It is distinct from the Astilbe japonica and the Arendsii Hybrids. In 1993 Wim van Veen, a Dutch grower, took pollen from a very dwarf variety of Chinese astilbe called ‘Pumila’, and used to produce seeds from a plant of the Purple Candles Astilbe (`Purpurkerze’). Among the seedlings he found a compact plant with terrific flower color, and named it ‘Vision in Red’. It was released by Future Plants V.O.F. of Noordwijk, the Netherlands, and patented in 2001 (PP# 11, 965). That patent expired very recently.
If you want to grow astilbe, but your location is just a bit too dry and sunny, then the Vision in Red Astilbe should be at the top of your list – and in your garden. Many people have learned to grow and enjoy these plants with tougher varieties like this. Whether you are new to them, or an old hand, this is a plant for your garden, but order now – popular varieties like this are soon gone.