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Agastache

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Agastache, the butterfly and hummingbird magnet

Agastache is a genus with a broad variety of species, all of which attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  In general they all enjoy full sun, bloom from midsummer to autumn, are drought tolerant, and are excellent container plants.  The foliage has a black licorice (anise) scent.  Growth habit is upright with tall flower spikes.  Removing spent spikes will encourage more blooming.  These are actually perennial herbs, the leaf tips can be eaten or used to make tea.  Agastache require very little care.

If you have had difficulty growing delphinium, these would be a nice alternative.  They are less finicky but still give your garden regal height with sturdy spires of blue blooms, as well as some pink varieties.  Just give them some average soil, little or no fertilizer and don’t over water.  Divide when blooming diminishes every few years or if they become overgrown.

Although a southwestern species, certain agastache can thrive even in cold wet winters of the northeast, but most prefer the drier zone 5 and warmer growing areas.  Agastache comes through winter best if you do NOT cut back.  Cut back to about 4” in spring.  Most Agastache self seed readily, so deadhead to prevent reseeding.

 

Agastache (A. foeniculum x A. rugosa) ‘Blue FortuneAgastache 'Blue Fortune'

  • Common Name:  Anise Hyssop, hummingbird mint
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  3-4 feet
  • Spread:  15-18”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to light shade, must have a minimum of 6 hours direct sunlight
  • Water Requirements:  Average water needs, drought tolerant.  Do not over water.
  • Soil Requirements:  Average to fertile well drained soil with a neutral to alkaline pH, but very adaptable.  Will not do well in heavy clay.
  • Growth Habit:  Upright in clumps
  • Bloom Time: July to October
  • Bloom Color: Powdery lavender blue
  • Bloom Form:  5” flower spikes with tiny tube shaped blooms
  • Foliage:  4” long green leaves with silvery underside
  • Fragrance:  Foliage has a black licorice (anise) scent
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer resistant
  • Fertilize:  Little or no fertilization is necessary.  Over fertilizing may cause the plant to become weak and less dense.
  • Maintenance:  Easy to grow requiring little care, deadheading necessary to prevent self seeding.  Divide every 3-5 years in spring or fall to maintain plant health.
  • Other:  Butterfly and hummingbird magnet.  Survives early frosts
  • Hardiness:  Zones 5-9

Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ is a long blooming perennial with masses of powder blue bloom spikes produced July through October.  Blooming is robust and nearly nonstop in late summer when so many other flowers are waning.  ‘Blue Fortune’ is a variety that is more tolerant of cold winters and wet soil than other Agastache.  The leaves can be used to flavor cold drinks or as a potpourri, both the leaves and flowers are edible.  It is one of the hardiest Agastaches that may also do well up to zone 4, tolerating moist winters if planted in well drained soil.  Grow in full sun or part shade, but too much shade will produce lanky growth.  ‘Blue Fortune’ is best grown in groups of 3 or more for best visual impact, or massed at the back of a border.  Self seeds.  Deer resistant is a bonus!

 

Agastache foeniculum syn. anethiodorum ‘Blue Giant Hyssop’Agastache foeniculum

  • Common Name:  Anise Hyssop, hummingbird mint
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  3-6 feet
  • Spread:  15-18”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to light shade, must have a minimum of 6 hours direct sunlight
  • Water Requirements:  Average water needs, drought tolerant.  Do not over water.
  • Soil Requirements:  Average to fertile well drained soil with a neutral to alkaline pH, but very adaptable.  Will not do well in heavy clay.
  • Growth Habit:  Upright in clumpsAgastache leaves by Peter Gorman
  • Bloom Time: July to September
  • Bloom Color: Bright lavender blue
  • Bloom Form:  5” flower spikes with tiny tube shaped blooms
  • Foliage:  4” long green leaves with silvery underside
  • Fragrance:  Foliage has a black licorice (anise) scent
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer resistant
  • Fertilize:  Little or no fertilization is necessary.  Over fertilizing may cause the plant to become weak and less dense.
  • Maintenance:  Easy to grow requiring little care, deadheading necessary to prevent self seeding.  Divide every 3-5 years in spring or fall to maintain plant health.
  • Other:  Butterfly and hummingbird magnet.  Survives early frosts
  • Hardiness:  Zones 4-9

Agastache foeniculum syn. anethiodorum is one of the best for the north central growing zones.  Since it is found native in northern Wisconsin, it is hardy to zone 4.  This native species form is commonly called anise hyssop or Blue Giant Hyssop.  The leaves are often used for seasonings and tea, emitting an aroma similar to mint, anise or licorice.  The leaves may also be used in potpourri and to flavor cold drinks.  It grows up to 4 feet tall and produces dense spikes of bright blue tubular flowers in July and August.  It grows sturdy and erect.  Blue Giant prefers full sun and well drained soil, but will do quite well in part shade with moist conditions.  For fragrance and attracting wildlife, this is a must have perennial in the north central garden.  Deer resistant!

 

Agastache A. rugosum x A. foeniculum ‘Black Adder’Agastache 'Black Adder'

  • Common Name:  Anise Hyssop, hummingbird mint
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  2-3 feet
  • Spread:  1 1/2 - 2 feet
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to part shade, must have a minimum of 6 hours direct sunlight
  • Water Requirements:  Average water requirements.  Drought tolerant, do not overwater
  • Soil Requirements:  Average well drained soil with a neutral to alkaline pH.  Will not tolerate heavy clay.
  • Growth Habit:  Upright in mounded clumps
  • Bloom Time: June to September
  • Bloom Color: Smoky red violet
  • Bloom Form:  6-8” flower spikes with tiny tube shaped blooms
  • Foliage:  4” long green leaves with silvery underside
  • Fragrance:  Foliage has a black licorice (anise) scent
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Crown or root rot can develop in poorly drained soil.  Deer resistant.
  • Fertilize:  Little or no fertilization is necessary.  Over fertilizing may cause the plant to become weak and less dense.
  • Maintenance:  Easy to grow requiring little care.  Sterile, will not self seed.
  • Other:  Attracts butterfiles and hummingbirds
  • Hardiness:  Zones 6-9

Agastache ‘Black Adder’ has a deep purple stalk with nearly black, deep violet blue buds opening to smoky blue blooms, creating a striking look in midsummer.  It is perhaps the longest blooming Agastache, beginning earlier in summer.  The foliage is of course, licorice scented, and the bees and butterflies love this perennial.  ‘Black Adder’ is sterile and will NOT self seed.

 

Agastachi Tutti Frutti by Lemon MeringueAgastache A. barberi x A. mexicana ‘Tutti Frutti’

  • Common Name:  Bubble Gum Mint, Hummingbird Mint, Hyssop
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  3-5 feet
  • Spread:  2-3 feet
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun to mostly sunny
  • Water Requirements:  Average water requirements, drought tolerant.
  • Soil Requirements:  Average well drained soil with a neutral to alkaline pH.  Will not tolerate heavy clay.
  • Growth Habit:  Upright and bushy
  • Bloom Time: July to frost
  • Bloom Color: Bright pink
  • Bloom Form:  4 foot stems with large tubular bloomsAgastache 'Tutti Frutti'
  • Foliage:  Gray green
  • Fragrance:  Foliage has a fruity lemon scent
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer resistant
  • Fertilize:  Little or no fertilization is necessary.  Over fertilizing may cause the plant to become weak and less dense.
  • Maintenance:  Easy to grow requiring little care.  Deadhead to prevent self seeding.
  • Other:  Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 6-10

Agastache ‘Tutti Frutti’, as you might guess, has a fruit scented foliage, but the blooms also have a fruity taste.  Vivid raspberry red blooms grow loosely on long, 2 to 3 foot stems from July to frost.  Gray green foliage is a nice contrast to the bright blooms.  It reaches an overall height of 3 - 4 feet, but with consistent moisture can even reach 5 feet tall.  Spread can be between 1 and 3 feet. If growing in a container, cut back once or twice early in the season.

‘Tutti Fruiti’ must have full sun in zone 6.  Hardy in zones 6 - 9 in the south, 10 in the west, tolerating heat and dry conditions well  Consistent water may be necessary in hot regions, but do not over water, or overfertilize.  Stems will become week.

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