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Astilbe: Plant This or That

In early June, spires of asian astilbes (Astilbe chinensis), above left and below, are majestic. The orderly whites, pinks and lavenders thrive in moist soil in shade.


The native alternative has a slightly less regal name — goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus). Fortunately, the plant is far more inspiring than its name.

Like astilbe, native goatsbeard, below, thrives in shade and moist soils and blooms in June.  The feathery plumes of flowers are white and sway with the breeze. There are few things more beautiful in the garden than a mature stand of goatsbeard lighting up a shady corner.  Do you have an area that always stays moist; or has layers of leaves decaying on soft ground? Plant goatsbeard and you won’t be disappointed.  If you have the right conditions, within 3 or 4 years, you will have something really lovely.

Image 6-3-19 at 9.50 PM

Goatsbeard grows 4 to 6 feet high, larger than most astilbes.

For more information:

For some great photos and a range map, please go here.

For more detail from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, please go here.


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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