Vision in White AstilbeAstilbe chinensis 'Vision in White' (PP# 18,965)
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Astilbe chinensis 'Vision in White' (PP# 18,965)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Vision in White Astilbe is a special variety that is more sun and dryness tolerant than almost all other astilbe. It has wonderful plumes of pure-white flowers that bloom from mid-summer into the fall – after other astilbe are over. It has attractive fern-like foliage and many tiny flowers in fan-like spikes growing to about 2 feet tall. Grow it along a path or by a stream, in shady areas or, in cool zones, in the sun as well.
Many light conditions suit the Vision in White Astilbe, from full sun to full shade. It grows best in moist, rich soil, and tolerates wet but not flooded conditions. Especially in cooler zones this astilbe will thrive in more sun and dryness than any other type, although it still benefits from watering. It has no pests or diseases, and deer leave it alone. A single cutting down in late fall or early spring is all the annual work needed. Water new plants frequently during their first two years in your garden.
The astilbe comes close to being the ideal plant for gardens. It grows in a wide range of light conditions, including full shade; it needs no care beyond an annual cut-down; it is almost always free of pests & diseases, as well as being ignored by deer: it comes in a range of colors and sizes – an important consideration to create a varied garden. The only drawback – and one that has troubled many new gardeners – is it’s need for plenty of water. If you have tried and failed with astilbe, we would like to suggest this gorgeous plant, the Vision in White Astilbe. The secret is its parentage, since it is a variety of the Chinese astilbe, not one of the usual Arendsii hybrids, or similar plants. This species is more resistant to sun and drier soil than all others, and often succeeds in conditions that would kill most other astilbe. Now we are not saying to plant it out on that dry, full-sun slope you have (we have lots of other choices for that – can we suggest you look at Agastache?), but it certainly takes a lot more sun and dryness in its stride than you would guess. Plus, it blooms later, from mid-summer into fall, so it usefully extends the ‘astilbe season’ by a couple of months. Let’s not forget how beautiful it is, either, with its beautiful rich-green foliage and striking white blooms. White stands out in shade much better than any other color – try it and you will be instantly convinced.
The Vision in White Astilbe grows into a mound of leaves a foot or two across, and around 8 inches tall. The flower spikes rise above it to perhaps 2 feet in total – a perfect size for every garden. This is an herbaceous perennial plant. That is, it grows each year and dies back to the ground in winter, resprouting stronger and larger the following spring. This long-lived and vigorous plant will thrive for years and years in most gardens. The large leaves are about 10 inches long and almost as wide, carried on a long 5 or 6 inch stalk – but it doesn’t look that way. Each leaf is divided into 9 to 15 much smaller leaflets, each about 3 inches long, with a pointed tip and a deeply-cut toothed edge. The leathery leaflets are glossy and a dark, rich-green, and the overall look is fern-like and strikingly attractive.
The flowers develop on stems that rise up by mid-summer above the foliage to a height of about 2 feet. Many stems are produced giving a dense effect. Each stem contains around 1,250 individual buds and flowers, arranged on short side stems that grow out and upwards in a fan-like fashion. The buds show creamy white for several weeks before the flowers open fully, and as they open in succession this plant is in bloom for many weeks, even into the fall. After blooming the stems turn brown, but they still look attractive and they can be left standing into the winter. The flowers are pure white and this plant really is a beautiful vision, glowing across the garden and brightening all those dark and boring corners.
Grow the Vision in White Astilbe along a pathway through a shady area, or in beds with shade-loving plants like Hosta, Heuchera or shrubs like gardenia and azalea. Plant it beside water (not in it) such as a pond or stream. Where this particular plant is especially useful is in areas that are a bit too sunny and dry for most other astilbe – there it will flourish like no other Astilbe will.
The Vision in White Astilbe will grow without any special protection in zone 4, and all the way into zone 8. It’s better tolerance of sun and dryness is most pronounced in cooler zones.
In cool zones, if the soil is not too dry, this plant will grow in full sun. Otherwise plant it in partial shade – morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal – or in light full shade such as beneath tall deciduous trees or at the foot of a north-facing wall or fence. The ideal soil is rich and moist to wet, but not flooded or boggy. However it grows perfectly in average garden conditions, and ordinary soils, both acid and mildly alkaline. Add organic material when planting, water new plants frequently during the first two summers, mulch after cutting down, and this plant will grow in hotter and drier soils than other astilbes can do.
No staking is needed, just cut down the stems in late fall or early spring. Pests, diseases and deer leave it alone, and it is very, very low-maintenance.
The Chinese astilbe, Astilbe chinensis, can be found growing wild along streams and in woodlands in China, Japan and Korea. It is distinct from other varieties, with later blooming and better sun and dryness tolerance. An older variety is called ‘Vision’, with very dark purple-pink blooms. In 1993 Johannes van Veen, a grower from Noorden in the Netherlands took pollen from a dark-red variety called ‘Dusseldorf’ and used it on ‘Vision’ to produce a batch of seeds. Among the many seedlings was a vigorous and striking plant with pure-white blooms, which he selected in 2005 for further trials. In 2008 he received a patent on it, licensed to Future Plants Licentie B.V., Lisserbroek, the Netherlands.
White astilbe are glorious and unique garden plants, and this one truly is a vision in white. Be a visionary and start seeing things of beauty in your garden, and grow this great plant. Order now, though, as our stock will soon be all gone, and this great variety is always hard to find, the demand is so great.