AGASTACHE: Giant Hyssop
Imagine you are peacefully sitting enjoying the beauty of your garden, drinking some refreshing beverage and out of nowhere a hummingbird buzzes right by your ear and stops to drink from an orange flower spike of an Agastache. The iridescent green back and ruby throat of the hummingbird glitter for a fleeting moment, and then it is gone again, off to another nectar source.
Planting Agastache, also called Giant hyssop or Mexican hyssop, brings this kind of summer excitement to the hummingbird garden. Agastache is a great summer to fall garden bloomer that fits well in the herb garden or perennial border.
Long spikes of whorled flowers that range in color from white, orange, pink, mauve, and purple set against green to gray-green aromatic foliage are spectacularly attractive to hummingbirds and other beneficial garden insects.
Agastache love full sun with excellent drainage to prevent them from rotting out over our wet winters, and grow anywhere from 18 in. to 6 ft tall. Some species of Agastache are also used in herbal medicines and teas. In addition to the various species, there are also many great cultivars and hybrids with a range of plant sizes and flower colors that would be great additions to any garden.
A. foeniculum Anise Hyssop
Agastachefrom north-central North America gets anywhere from 18 in. to 4 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide with lilac-blue flowers. The foliage is anise, or licorice scented and used to make tea. This species is more tolerant of winter wet and cold than other species. It also blooms the first year when planted from seed and will reseed freely. Zones 8-10.
A. mexicana - Giant Mexican Lemon Hyssop Masses of pink flowers set this agastache apart with lemon scented foliage used in tea or as a flavoring. Native to Mexico, it grows 2-3 ft. up to 5 ft. tall and 12 in. wide. Cultivars of this species have flower colors such as salmon pink, rose pink, and orange from spring through fall. Zones 3-24.
A. rugosa - Korean Hummingbird Mint, Wrinkled Giant Hyssop From China and Japan, this species of agastache grows 4-5 ft. tall with branching stems that make it shrubbier than other species. The leaves are three inches long and sticky with flower spikes up to four inches long in pink or purplish-blue. The foliage is licorice-scented and glossy-green with a purplish tinge. Zones 4-24.
A.rupestris - Licorice Mint, Sunset Hyssop Native to southern Arizona and northern Mexico, A. rupestris grows to 2 ½ ft tall and 18 in. wide. It has narrow fragrant gray-green leaves with spikes of orange flowers with lavender calyxes. This is a great garden plant. Zones 1-24.
Family: Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
Origin: Dry and often hilly areas in North America, China, and Japan
Culture: Plant in full sun with well-drained soil. Varieties from Mexico and the Southwest US need excellent drainage. If tender, plant in a protected place.
Maintenance: Dead-head old flowers for repeat blooming.
Propagation: From seed or cuttings. Sow seeds in early spring when it is between 55-64 degrees F. Semi-ripe cutt affected by downy mildew and few other fungal leaf diseases.