And a spritely little thing it is! Sprite Astilbe has moxie. It greets the warming days of late spring and early summer with a mini fireworks show. The flowers are like tiny rockets, shooting off in all directions and leaving behind pale pink smoke trails. The blooms hover over crinkly, deep green foliage that is so handsome, it makes the plant worth growing even without the flowers. Use this precious, pint-sized Spirit as a sharp edging to a north-facing foundation bed, a shady courtyard planting, or any of the moist, sun-challenged landscape beds around your home. It also makes a splendid groundcover, and it performs admirably in a container, too.
Sprite Astilbe is a selection of Star Astilbe, a species native to Japan in moist woodlands and forest edges. This species is valued for its glossy, ferny foliage and its airy sprays of white or pink flowers. It is also valued for its petite statue. This is one of the smallest Astilbe species on the planet, so it makes a fine choice where space is tight. Sprite Astilbe is an especially desirable form of Star Astilbe that was introduced by legendary British nurseryman Alan Bloom.
The Perennial Plant Association chose Sprite Astilbe as their pick for Perennial Plant of the Year in 1994. The winner of this prestigious award must be adaptable to a variety of climates, requireonly minimal maintenance, provide multi-season appeal, and not fall prey to any serious pests or diseases. Sprite is the only Astilbe to have ever won the coveted award.
How to Grow
Sprite Astilbe is best in afternoon shade. It will also grow in deep shade, and in cool-summer climates, it can be grown in sun, as long as plenty of water is supplied. Astilbes need regular irrigation to maintain bright, healthy foliage. Some people like the look of the spent seedheads and leave them standing; others cut them down as soon as the flowers have finished. Shear back all old stems and leaves in early spring. Mulch and fertilize annually—Astilbes are heavy feeders. Digging and dividing plants every three years will keep them growing vigorously (and will give you more plants!).
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