Agastache And The Agastache Kudos Series: Planting a Pollinator Paradise For Bees, Butterflies and Hummingbirds

By David Salman

Agastache Kudos Mandarin
Agastache Kudos™ Mandarin is a compact-growing plant, perfect for containers.

I first became familiar with the Agastache in the early 1990’s when I planted Agastache cana (Texas Hummingbird Mint).  At that time they were an obscure and infrequently grown genus of perennials. But, by the end of the growing season, I was smitten. The unique beauty of the flowers, the wonderful sweet herbal scent of the plant’s foliage and its incredible popularity with the hummingbirds in my garden had convinced me that these plants deserved more attention. 

With the exception of one species (Agastache rugosa, Korean Hyssop), all the members of this genus are native to North America. The various species found in the eastern US have smaller flowers and are pollinated primarily by bees and butterflies. The various species found in the western US and northern Mexico have larger, showier flowers that are pollinated primarily by hummingbirds.

My introduction of Agastache rupestris (Licorice Mint Hyssop) through the High Country Gardens catalog in 1996 was a milestone that caught the attention of gardeners, nurseries and plant breeders across the country. This rare species (only known to a few botanists at the time) from southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona was selected as a Plant Select® winner that next year, 1997, and became instantly popular. Its appeal has continued over the years and it’s now grown internationally in Europe and across North American. The plant’s popularity eventually caught the attention of professional plant breeders, and over the past 10 to 15 years, there have been many new Agastache hybrids and seed grown cultivars introduced to gardeners on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dan Heims, owner of Terra Nova Nursery in Portland, OR has been a visionary breeder of perennial plants, is renowned for his groundbreaking breeding work with Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Tiarella (Foamflower).  About a decade ago, he became enamored with Agastache and, with his team of plant breeders, began work on the creation of new garden worthy hybrids.  

I’ve been very impressed with Terra Nova’s ‘Blue Boa’, a, tall, long-blooming lavender-purple flowered hybrid that we’ve offered since 2017. So we decided to add some more of their hybrids to the High Country Gardens line-up, the Kudos™ series.

Agastache Kudos Ambrosia
Agastache Kudos™ Ambrosia

Agastache Kudos™ series

The Terra Nova breeders had several primary goals on which they focused to breed the Kudos series. They were successful in their efforts and bred plants that are:

  • Compact and bushy.
  • Have a range of flower colors.
  • Have improved cold hardiness over a wider range of the US (especially wetter parts of the country).
  • Are well adapted to growing in areas that have hot, humid summer weather.

Here are the three Kudos selections available for spring 2019:

Agastache Kudos Ambrosia
Agastache Kudos™ Ambrosia has multi-colored blooms in creamy coconut, pale orange and light rose-pink. Shown with Blanket Flower (Gaillardia).

Ambrosia has multi-colored flowers on compact flower spikes.  The flowers are a mix of creamy coconut, pale orange and light rose-pink.

Agastache Kudos Gold
Agastache Kudos™ Gold is a rare yellow-blooming Agastache.

Kudos Gold has an abundance of showy golden-yellow flowers on compact flower spikes.

Agastache Kudos Mandarin
Agastache Kudos™ Mandarin

Mandarin is very showy with eye-catching bright orange flowers on compact flower spikes.

Garden Care of Kudos and Other Agastache

  • Plant them in a well drained garden loam (avoid clay soils) in full sun. 
  • Leave the stems standing over the winter months and cut back hard in mid-spring to a height of 3 to 4 inches.  In early to mid-spring, there will be a tight mound of leaves at the top of the crown. Remove the old stems from the previous year just above the new foliage.
  • Don’t over-feed; a fall top dressing of compost and Yum Yum Mix is all they need to flourish. Too much high nitrogen fertilizers will shorten their lifespan and make the plants floppy.

Recommended Companion Plants for the Kudos™ Agastache

The Kudos varieties are much more compact growers than many of the species and older selections in the trade. Thus they are good choices for the front and middle sections of the perennial border and fit nicely alongside other small to medium sized perennials.  They combine beautifully with ‘Select Blue’ Catmint (Nepeta) and ‘Walker’s Deep Blue’ Catmint (Nepeta), ‘Moonbeam’ Tickseed (Coreopsis), Gayfeather (Liatris) and ‘Ultra Violet’ Salvia (Sage).

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