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Agastache (Hyssop)

Anise Hyssop, Anise Mint, Blue Giant Hyssop, Fragrant Giant Hyssop, Hummingbird Mint

Agastache Foeniculum, Anise Hyssop, Blue Giant Hyssop or Fragrant Giant Hyssop, Agastache Mexicana, Mexican Giant Hyssop, Giant Mexican Lemon Hyssop,Agastache Rupestris,Agastache Rugosa, Korean Mint, Wrinkled Giant Hyssop. Korean Hummingbird Mint

Agastache, also known as Hyssop, is a versatile perennial plant prized for its aromatic foliage and stunning flowers, attracting pollinators with its vibrant colors and abundant nectar.

What is Hyssop?

Agastache is a genus of aromatic flowering plants in the mint family, commonly called Hummingbird Mint or Hyssop.

Native: Agastache species are mostly native to North America, with a high concentration in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. There are about 30 species of Agastache, but only four are typically found in our gardens: Agastache foeniculum, Agastache mexicana, Agastache rugosa, and Agastache rupestris.

Habit and Size: Most Agastache plants are upright, clump-forming perennials that typically grow between 1 and 3 feet (30-90 cm) tall, with a similar spread. Some species can reach up to 6 feet (180 cm).

Flowers:  The tubular flowers are arranged in dense spikes, creating a striking display. They are stunning and vibrant, coming in a variety of colors, such as purple, pink, orange, and yellow.

Foliage: The foliage is typically lance-shaped, with a slightly serrated edge, and ranges in color from green to blue-green. When crushed, the leaves release a strong, often mint-like fragrance.

Blooming Season: Agastache plants generally bloom from early summer to early fall, providing long-lasting color in the garden.

Hardiness: They’re generally hardy from USDA zones 5 through 10, although this can vary slightly depending on the species.

Uses: Agastache is popular for use in perennial borders, herb gardens, butterfly gardens, and cottage gardens. It’s also used in natural medicine, and some species are edible with a mint or licorice-like flavor.

Pollinators: The flowers are highly attractive to a wide variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, hence the common name “Hummingbird Mint.”

Toxicity: Agastache is not considered toxic to humans or pets.

Deer & Rabbit: Agastache is generally resistant to both deer and rabbits, making it a good choice for areas where these creatures are common.

Drought: Once established, Agastache plants are highly drought-tolerant, making them an excellent choice for xeriscaping or low-water gardens.

Invasiveness: Agastache is not typically considered invasive, although it can self-seed under ideal conditions.

Key Facts: Agastache’s nectar-rich flowers and fragrant foliage make it a standout plant for attracting and supporting beneficial wildlife. At the same time, its deer and rabbit resistance coupled with its drought-tolerance makes it an easy-care option for many gardeners. Its culinary and medicinal uses also add to its value in both the ornamental and the functional garden.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 10
Heat Zones 5 - 12
Climate Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Agastache
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 6'
(30cm - 180cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Showy
Native Plants Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Midwest, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northeast, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pacific Northwest, Pennsylvania, Rocky Mountains, South Carolina, South Dakota, Southeast, Southwest, Tennessee, Texas, United States, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Mediterranean Garden, Prairie and Meadow
Agastache Black Adder, Giant Hyssop Black Adder, Long blooming perennials
Agastache Blue Boa, Hyssop Blue Boa, Anise Hyssop Blue Boa, Hummingbird Mint Blue Boa,
Agastache Blue Fortune, Anise Hyssop 'Blue Fortune', Giant Hyssop 'Blue Fortune', Agastache Aurantiaca 'Blue Fortune', blue flowers, violet flowers

Main Agastache Species

Here are some of the main species of Agastache:

Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop): This species is native to much of north-central and northern North America. It has a strong anise scent and is often used in teas or for culinary purposes.

Agastache mexicana (Mexican Giant Hyssop): A species that is native to Mexico and often has bright pink to purple flowers. It’s known for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.

Agastache rugosa (Korean Mint): This species is native to East Asia and has a licorice-mint scent. It’s often used in traditional Korean medicine and is highly attractive to pollinators.

Agastache pallidiflora (Pallid-Flowered Hyssop): This species is native to the Southwestern United States and is often used for xeriscaping due to its drought tolerance.

Agastache aurantiaca (Orange Hummingbird Mint): As the name suggests, this species has bright orange flowers and is very attractive to hummingbirds. It’s native to Mexico.

Agastache cana (Mosquito plant): This species, native to the Southwestern United States (New Mexico and western Texas), is known for its strong scent that can help to deter mosquitoes.

Agastache rupestris: Known as the Sunset Hyssop, it’s native to the Southwestern United States (Arizona and New Mexico). It’s admired for its fragrant, gray-green foliage and tubular orange flowers that bloom from mid-summer into fall. This drought-tolerant perennial is beloved by hummingbirds and butterflies.

Agastache urticifolia: Also called Nettleleaf Giant Hyssop, it’s native to western North America. It features tall, erect stems topped with dense spikes of white to pale pink flowers in summer. Its leaves, resembling those of nettles, give it its name.

Agastache nepetoides: Known as Yellow Giant Hyssop, this North American native plant produces tall, loose spikes of greenish-yellow flowers in the summer. Its flowers and aromatic foliage make it a magnet for pollinators.

These are just a few examples of the diverse Agastache genus. Many varieties and cultivars have been developed for garden use, with a wide range of colors, sizes, and other characteristics.

 

Agastache foeniculum, Blue Giant Hyssop, Blue Giant-hyssop, Fragrant Giant Hyssop, Lavender Hyssop, Anise Hyssop
Agastache urticifolias, Nettleleaf Giant Hyssop, Nettle-leaf Horsemint, Lavender Agastache, Lavender Hyssop
Agastache Rugosa Golden Jubilee, Giant Hyssop Golden Jubilee, Anise Hyssop Golden Jubilee, Korean Mint Golden Jubilee, Purple Agastache, Purple Hyssop, Purple Korean Mint

Why Should I Grow Hyssop?

Growing Agastache in your garden can bring several benefits:

Attracts Pollinators: Agastache is a favorite of many pollinators. Its nectar-rich flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, helping to support local biodiversity. If you enjoy wildlife in your garden or want to do your part in preserving these important species, Agastache is an excellent choice.

Drought Tolerance: Once established, Agastache plants are incredibly drought-tolerant. This makes them a great choice for gardeners in areas with water restrictions or for those who prefer low-maintenance landscaping.

Long Blooming Period: Agastache blooms from early summer to early fall, providing a long season of vibrant color in your garden.

Deer and Rabbit Resistant: The strong fragrance of Agastache tends to deter deer and rabbits. If these animals are common in your area, growing Agastache could save you from dealing with nibbled plants.

Fragrant and Edible: The leaves of the Agastache plant release a delightful aroma when crushed and certain species have edible parts, used in traditional medicines and in culinary dishes for their mint or licorice-like flavor.

Versatile Garden Use: Its upright growth habit and colorful flower spikes make it suitable for various garden designs, including perennial borders, butterfly gardens, and cottage gardens. It’s also a good choice for containers, provided they’re placed in a sunny location.

Disease and Pest Resistant: Agastache plants have few problems with pests or diseases. Their strong scent can deter many common pests, making them a robust choice for organic or low-intervention gardeners.

Given these benefits, Agastache can be a wonderful, multi-functional addition to many gardens.

Agastache 'Raspberry Summer', Giant Hyssop 'Raspberry Summer', Hummingbird Mint 'Raspberry Summer', Pink Agastache, Hummingbird Plant, Hummingbird Flowers
Agastache 'Summer Glow', Giant Hyssop 'Summer Glow', Hummingbird Mint 'Summer Glow', Yellow Agastache, Yellow Hummingbird Plant, Hummingbird Flowers
Agastache cana, Giant Hyssop, Mosquito Plant, Mosquito-plant, Texas Hummingbird Mint, Hummingbird Mint, Bubblegum Mint, Lavender Agastache, Native US Plant, Native US Perennial

Garden Design with Hyssop

Hyssop is an excellent plant to use in garden design due to its numerous desirable features, including colorful, long-lasting blooms, attractive to pollinators, and drought tolerance.

Color Palette: The bright flowers of Agastache can serve as the focal point of a color-themed garden. Colors range from purples and blues to pinks, oranges, and whites, depending on the species. Consider pairing Agastache with plants having complementary or contrasting colors for a vibrant display.

Borders and Edges: Agastache plants, especially taller varieties, are excellent for the back of borders or as a key component in an island bed. Lower-growing varieties are perfect for the front of borders or along edges.

Wildlife Garden: With their tubular flowers, Agastache plants are a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies, making them an excellent choice for a wildlife garden. They can be combined with other native species that provide food and shelter for a wide range of wildlife.

Herb Garden: Given their culinary and medicinal uses, Agastache species fit well in an herb garden. The anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), for example, can be used in teas, salads, or as a garnish.

Xeriscape: Agastache plants are drought tolerant, making them suitable for a xeriscape or dry garden. They can be paired with drought-tolerant species like Sedum, Echinacea, and Lavender for a low-maintenance, water-saving garden.

Container Gardening: Smaller species or varieties of Agastache are great for container gardening. The containers can be moved around the garden to add a pop of color where needed or grouped for a colorful display.

Always remember to take into account the specific growing conditions each species of Agastache prefers. Some prefer full sun, while others do well in part shade. Most prefer well-draining soil. Regular pruning can help to maintain a neat appearance and encourage more blooms.

Hyssop Kudos Ambrosia, Anise Hyssop Kudos Ambrosia, Hummingbird Mint Kudos Ambrosia, Dwarf Hyssop Kudos Ambrosia, Pink Hyssop, Pink Flowers, Pink Hummingbrid Mint
Agastache rugosa 'Little Adder', Hyssop 'Little Adder', Anise Hyssop 'Little Adder', Hummingbird Mint 'Little Adder', Long blooming perennials, Blue flowers, Bue hyssops, Blue agastache
Hyssop Bolero, Anise Hyssop Bolero, Hummingbird Mint Bolero, Dwarf Hyssop Bolero, Purple Hyssop, Purple Flowers, Purple Hummingbrid Mint

Companion Plants

Agastache plants pair well with a variety of other perennials that enjoy similar growing conditions (full sun to part shade and well-draining soil). Here are some excellent companion plants:

Echinacea (Coneflower): These native North American plants share Agastache’s love of sun and tolerate a variety of soil conditions. Their daisy-like flowers pair beautifully with the spike-like blooms of Agastache.

Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan): These plants provide a bright yellow contrast to the purples, blues, pinks, and oranges of Agastache.

Sedum (Stonecrop): Sedums are excellent for filling in gaps in the garden with their low-growing habit and succulent foliage.

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage): The silvery foliage and purple flowers of Russian sage complement the bold hues of Agastache and they share similar cultural requirements.

Salvia (Sage): Both Agastache and Salvia share similar flower shapes and attract hummingbirds. Their colors can complement or contrast each other, depending on the varieties chosen.

Ornamental Grasses: The fine texture of many ornamental grasses contrasts well with the bold foliage of Agastache. Plus, grasses add movement to the garden.

Lavandula (Lavender): The grey-green foliage and purple flowers of lavender plants can create a harmonious color scheme with Agastache.

Crocosmia: These are colorful, summer-blooming bulbs with arching stems of bright, funnel-shaped flowers. Their fiery hues complement the vibrant blooms of Agastache.

Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker): Its unique, torch-like flowers add vertical interest and a splash of intense color to the garden that pairs well with Agastache’s more relaxed flower spires.

Coreopsis (Tickseed): These are free-flowering perennials with bright, daisy-like flowers. Their long blooming season and love for sun make them a great match for Agastache.

Echinops (Globe Thistle): They produce stunning spherical flowers that add unique structure and texture to a garden. Their blue or white globes offer a cool contrast to the warm-toned Agastache.

Helenium (Sneezeweed): They produce daisy-like flowers in late summer and autumn. The warm hues of Helenium flowers play well with Agastache’s palette and their similar blooming periods mean they’ll offer a vibrant display together.

Monarda (Bee Balm): This is a wonderful companion plant for Agastache, as both share similar growing conditions and complement each other’s vibrant blooms.

Remember that all these plants, like Agastache, enjoy well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine, making them suitable companions in a garden setting.

Companion Plants for Agastache

Growing Tips

Growing Agastache requires a few steps that you should follow for best results:

Location: Choose a location in full sun. Agastache plants prefer sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours a day. However, they can tolerate a bit of shade, particularly in hotter climates.

Soil: Agastache thrives best in well-drained soil. Heavy clay or soggy soils can lead to root rot. If your garden has heavy clay soil, consider improving the drainage by adding organic matter or sand, or grow Agastache in raised beds or containers.

Planting: If you’re planting Agastache from a nursery pot, dig a hole twice as wide as the pot and deep enough so that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Remove the plant from the pot, loosen the roots, and place it in the hole. Backfill with the excavated soil and firm it gently.

Watering: After planting, water thoroughly. In the first few weeks, keep the soil evenly moist to help the plant establish. Once established, Agastache is drought tolerant, but regular watering during dry periods will promote better flowering.

Fertilizing: Agastache generally doesn’t require much fertilizer. However, you can apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in the spring to promote healthy growth.

Pruning: Prune Agastache in early spring to remove old growth and make way for new stems. You can also deadhead spent flowers during the growing season to encourage more blooms.

Propagation: You can propagate Agastache by division in spring or by cuttings in early summer.

Pests and Diseases: Agastache plants are generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, they may occasionally be susceptible to powdery mildew, aphids, and spider mites. Providing good air circulation, avoiding overhead watering, and maintaining proper plant hygiene can help prevent and manage these problems.

Remember, Agastache plants are usually low maintenance, and they are loved by pollinators, making them an excellent choice for a pollinator-friendly garden.

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 10
Heat Zones 5 - 12
Climate Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Agastache
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 6'
(30cm - 180cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Showy
Native Plants Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Midwest, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northeast, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pacific Northwest, Pennsylvania, Rocky Mountains, South Carolina, South Dakota, Southeast, Southwest, Tennessee, Texas, United States, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Mediterranean Garden, Prairie and Meadow
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