Often mistaken for its lookalike astilbe, goatsbeard is a shade plant from an entirely different plant family. Its fernlike foliage and wispy white blooms lend airiness to gardens and look especially stunning en masse.
Because they aren't particularly colorful themselves, goatsbeard makes a good foil for other colorful plants in a shade garden. Turn to these plants when you need some height in a shade garden because some varieties grow up to 8 feet tall. The lack of pests and problems is also part of their appeal. Fun fact: Each goatsbeard plant is either male or female, with the wispy cream blooms of the male plants being showier. Most are not sold as male or female, so if you're looking for one or the other, shop for goatsbeard when it's in bloom. The spent bloom stalks contribute an ornamental aspect but can flop over and look messy on some of the taller varieties.
Goatsbeard Care Must-Knows
These perennials are fairly easy to grow without much attention. Goatsbeard prefers woodland conditions, so the soil needs to be kept moist. If the soil dries out too much or too often, the leaves will burn, becoming dry and crisp on the edges. Having plenty of organic matter in the soil helps them thrive, so if your soil is lacking, amend it with peat moss and compost before planting. This also helps the soil retain water and ultimately keep your goatsbeard happy.
Goatsbeard plants like part shade and need shelter from the hot afternoon sun. In the northern range of their hardiness, they can take full sun; however, they will require consistently moist soil and will likely burn during any sort of drought.
Spent flower stalks can be left on the plants through the winter for visual interest, but should be cut back before new foliage emerges. Spring is also the best season to divide plants, but it is not necessary for plant growth.