Agastache In The Landscape
From media to fertilizer, learn the best practices for growing this heat-loving plant.
September 25, 2012
Agastache is a much-enjoyed North American genus of ornamental merit. This genus comprises a group of deer-resistant, drought-tolerant plants that are showing extreme heat resistance. A number of species (of 16 total) are from Mexico and the Southwest desert, tolerating and blooming at temperatures of 100°F.
Agastache Attracts Wildlife And Humans Alike
In England, agastache are treasured as nectar sources for bees, butterflies and other insects. In the United States, the plants are aptly nicknamed hummingbird mint, as they are a huge attractor of hummingbirds.
The color range goes from purple-blue through yellow, coral and orange. This adds much attraction for humans as well, especially because agastache is in full bloom around the time we are active in the garden. Some cooks use the young leaf tips in salads, and there are a number of teas that feature the anise-hyssop, which is another species of agastache,
These plants are in the mint family and have a wonderful foliage fragrance that can range from somewhat minty to an anise scent.
Plant Care Needs And Guidelines
• Excellent drainage (poor drainage kills these plants)
• Full sun
• Moderately amended soil
• Little fertilizer (higher phosphorus and potassium)
• Non-organic mulches (like gravel)
The hardiness range depends on the species. One can survive in Canada (USDA Zone 1), while some Mexican varieties are Zones 8 to 11.
It is important to read a plant’s documentation carefully to be sure that it is right for a specific area with respect to hardiness and heat, humidity and warm night tolerance. Watering should be moderate during its first year of establishment in the garden. Then it can taper off. The plants should be dry between waterings. There are a number of varieties that are simply sold as annuals.
This group of heavy summer-flowering plants can often bloom right into the first frost and can be cut down to 6 inches in late October to regenerate for the next year.
Bred For Colors, Disease Resistance
The warm colors of a number of new cultivars fit a wide-ranging color palette, and the more dwarf varieties make excellent container plants. Over-exuberant plants like Agastache ‘Tutti-Frutti’ need to be cut in half occasionally to keep them in check.
While many varieties are hardy, the aim at Terra Nova Nurseries is to make plants even hardier with a modern color palette. The breeding staff’s current objectives include clear colors, sterility (this really keeps the flowers coming) and resistance to Downy Mildew. Plants need to be strong-stemmed and able to withstand the wind and rain.
This great and under-used genus of plants makes an excellent foil for the new generation of echinacea and coreopsis that are coming out in new, warm colors. This fragrant, herbal and easy-care plant yields scads of long-lasting blooms. An extra bonus is the plant is notso tasty to deer.
Dan Heims (email@example.com) is president of Terra Nova Nurseries in Canby, Ore., and Conor Carey is a grower for the operation. Visit TerraNovaNurseries.com.