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Astilbe not well this year (no blooms)

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From: Sajjad Lateef
Lake In The Hills, IL
None of my Astilbes (False Spirea, Goatsbeard) bloomed this year. For those which did put out flower buds (or whatever is the correct term for immature inflorescence), the buds kept drooping, turned brown and never ever bloomed. The edges of the leaves are brown and the leaves curling (as if the plant is subject to drought or excessive heat). I know the roots have to be kept moist and require more water than other plants.

Also, I planted about 8 new Astilbe plants (from Breck's, in April) and only about half of those put out new leaves, much less blooms.

Two possible causes: 1. I dug out the bed around the existing plants, mixed in compost into the dug soil and put it back in the bed. I may have disturbed the roots. I know the Shasta Daisys did not like that, but still some flowered this year.

2. I sprayed the roses with Neem oil spray this year for the first time. There might have been some overspray that hit the astilbes. I hope they are not reacting adversely to the Neem oil.

The Astilbe which I missed this year the most is the three-year old white Deutschland. The smaller four-year old Chinese pink has never really done well.

I did fertilize the Astilbes along with all the other plants on July 4th, hoping that some will survive.

Would you happen to have any ideas why Astilbes are not doing well this year? Any suggestions on ensuring their survival and bloom for next year?

Thanks Sajjad

Extension Message
From: Brenda Dahlfors
Program Coordinator, Horticulture
Lake/McHenry Unit
Sajjad - I asked Greg Stack, our ornamentals educator, and this was his response: Just some thoughts. Astilbe does like a very organic soil that retains some moisture in an area that gets some light shade. If these plants dried out or soils got hot and dry it could affect the way they flower and growth. Small leaves, scorched leaves usually suggest dry conditions. Also if you move them late in spring or perhaps do a lot of digging around the roots they tend to not grow as vigorous until they get reestablished. That might have affected them. Also astilbe set flower buds for next year in the late summer early fall so fertilizer applications at that time are the most beneficial for flower bud formation. Keep them well watered also. Hope this helps (Thanks, Greg!).

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