A plant for the end of your downspout ...

woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)May 22, 2011

... or other wet spot.

Astilboides tabularis (shieldleaf) is a fabulous plant that should be used more often I think. It loves wet places and makes a perfect plant to place near the end of a downspout where water supply is readily available. It's supposed to be a full sun or partial shade plant; mine are growing in partial to full shade.

You really grow these for the magnificent foliage although they do produce spires of creamy-white astilbe-like (hence their botanical name) flowers in early July. They are not a vigorous spreader like many of the other big-leafed plants for damp spots. The more water they get, the bigger the leaves are. I have one growing at the end of our downspout; one across from the neighbour's downspout that is close to our fence; one the oak canopy, not too far away from the 'wet corner' garden. There is a considerable difference in size between the first two and the third one which gets less mosture. Here's what they look like this morning:

These are the two by the downspouts (our downspout runs under the path and emerges by the fence; the neighbour's drains towards us about 10" from the fence):

This is the one that gets less moisture and you can see how much smaller it is:

This is a closer view of the leaves:

The leaves are not quite full-grown yet.

If you want a showy but well-behaved plant for a wet place, I recommend this one! It's supposed to be hardy in zones 3-9 but needs more shade in hotter areas.

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harvwald(z5 IL)

Great information, thanks! By the way, what is that cute little animal you can partially see in the first photo?!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 3:56PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

That's Misty, an ~11 year-old Lhasa Apso (she was a rescued dog so we're not totally sure of her age...) I took the picture with her in it so she's a bit of a scale figure to give a better sense of the size of the leaves.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 5:40PM
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harvwald(z5 IL)

How sweet. Using her for scale helps, too!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 5:59PM
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thisismelissa(z4a-S Twin Cities MN)

Wow! I would LOVE to make a concrete leaf casting of that plant! It would make a fantastic bird bath!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 9:19PM
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I agree! Great Melissa's think alike!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 10:45PM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

great idea! I've had astilboides for 3 years and it has been so small. I'm moving it by the downspout now!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 7:24AM
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