Likely the focal point of your shady summer flower bed, astilbe flowers can be recognized by their tall, fluffy plumes that tower above frilly, fern-like foliage in the shade garden. These attractive flowers make great companions for other shade tolerant plants, such as hosta and hellebores, with contrasting foliage and coordinating blooms. Twenty five species of Astilbe exist, with hundreds of hybrids available. Some are borne on arching stems, while others are erect. Astilbe flowers range in color from whites to dark purples though most are pastel colors. Astilbe plants grow in shade but flowers are more productive in an area where gentle morning or dappled sun can reach them for about an hour or two. While maintenance of the plant is minimal, care for astilbe includes regular, even watering throughout its active growth, especially if planted in areas with more sun.