Sept. Article

09/02/2016 19:05

Hooked on Hyssops or Hummingbird Mints

By: Julie Barnes

My fellow gardeners; has frequent watering or battles against plundering wildlife worn you down? Would you like to learn about a tough genus of perennials that laughs at summer heat, partners well with other plants and complements the garden with long-lasting flower spikes of color? On top of that their scent repels a lot of pests, pollinators love them and many of its species are native to the U.S. You are probably thinking that a plant like this is too good to be true but let me go even further by telling you that this plant thrives in tough, dry conditions and prefers a lean soil since fertilizer will make the plant leggy with few or no flower spikes. Agastache pronounced ag-ah-STACK-ee or also stated as ag-ah-STASH-ee, ag-AST-a- kee, or otherwise ag-AH-stah-kee has at least thirty species of aromatic perennials making up this genus. The name comes from the Greek words “aga” meaning highly or greatly and “stachys” suggesting it is wheat-like in reference to the shape of its flower spike. Just within the past decade striking members of the genus Agastache have emerged from botanical obscurity into the gardening spotlight. They are commonly known as hyssops or hummingbird mints depending on the species or cultivars. Although they are members of the mint or Lamiaceae Family, they differ from many of their garden thug relatives in that they tend to be noninvasive. However, they may scatter volunteer seedlings which can be easily removed. Most are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9 nevertheless there are frost tender varieties that are grown as annuals as well. Each one has its own scent emanating from aromatic foliage and flowers that appeal to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds that likewise repels browsing deer or rabbits. In fact the licorice scented North America native, Agastache foeniculum, or anise hyssop is a beekeepers favorite. The plants provide copious amounts of pollen for bees’ hives, so they produce the nectar that makes a light, good-quality honey. grow in clumps with deep-rooted crowns

are formed at the branch tips that are

full sun in well-drained not clay soil. When mulching around hyssops materials such as bark or compost should be used lightly around them unless you use gravel to inhibit fungal or bacterial growth. To further ensure their winter hardiness in our region the leaves and flower stems on these plants should not be cut back until the following spring. So, consider hyssops for your garden to add color, texture, lots of bloom and fragrance to attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Some suggestions:

Depending on species or cultivar, Agastache plants

anywhere from 2 to 6 feet tall. Showy large or small flower spikes

comprised of many tiny florets

in colors such as

purple or lavender, pink, rose, blue, white and orange with

a long bloom time. This drought-loving perennial is tolerant of low water and poor nutrient conditions

growing best in


Agastache ‘Golden Jubilee

Rich chartreuse foliage

Blue-lavender bottle-brush flowers

Agastache ‘Cana

Tall prolific bloomer

Showy rose-pink flower spikes

Agastache ‘Ava’

Ravishingly Renowned

tall spikes of deep rose-pink flowers

Agastache ‘Summer Fiesta’

Nectar Rich & Spicy

28in. tall orange red spikes

Agastache mexicana'Kiegabi"

Compact size

Ft. long Pink-orange flower spikes