Lush growth astilbe this year but not great flowers. I put cow manure down in early May. Is it about dividing? Some are huge and can be divided but others are small and I don’t want to divide them. Suggestions?
Because you say that even the small Astilbes have had poor bloom, I suspect that it is because of the cow manure, which is commonly heavy in nitrogen. Fertilizing with too much nitrogen will cause lush leafy growth at the expense of flowers. There is probably nothing to do this year about the bloom. To ‘use-up’ the excess nitrogen in the soil you can mulch with something like wood chips or straw; these mulches need a lot of nitrogen in order to break down. You might also want to add a little bone meal to encourage root and flower growth.
In regards to dividing: Astilbe roots can become congested and old which will cause a decrease in bloom. This might happen every 4-5 years depending on the variety and growing conditions.
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.