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

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

 

By David Salman, High Country Gardens Chief Horticulturalist

I first became familiar with 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. 

All the members of this genus are native to North America (With the exception of one species Agastache rugosa, Korean Hyssop). 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 from southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, only known to a few botanists at the time, was selected as a Plant Select® winner in 1997, and became instantly popular. Its appeal has continued over the years and it’s now grown internationally in Europe and across North America. The popularity of Agastache rupestris 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.

Agastache rupestris. Photo by Saxon Holt.Agastache rupestris. Photo by Saxon Holt.
Agastache rupestris. Photo by Saxon Holt.

Three Agastache Kudos™ Selections Available From High Country Gardens

Dan Heims, owner of Terra Nova Nursery in Portland, OR has been a visionary breeder of perennial plants, and 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 through High Country Gardens since 2017.

So we decided to add some more of their hybrids to the High Country Gardens line-up, the Kudos™ series. The Terra Nova breeders had several primary goals on which they focused to breed the Kudos™ series.

Agastache Kudos™ plants have:

  • A compact and bushy form - much more compact than other Agastache
  • A range of bright and unusual flower colors.
  • Improved cold hardiness over a wider range of the US (especially wetter parts of the country).
  • Adapted well to growing in areas that have hot, humid summer weather.
Agastache Kudos™ AmbrosiaAgastache Kudos™ Ambrosia
Agastache Kudos™ Ambrosia

Agastache Kudos™ Ambrosia (PP#25,614) has multi-colored flowers on compact flower spikes.  The flowers are a mix of creamy coconut, pale orange, and light rose-pink.

Agastache Kudos™ GoldAgastache Kudos™ Gold
Agastache Kudos™ Gold

Agastache Kudos™ Gold (PP#26,410) is a rare yellow-blooming variety, with an abundance of showy golden-yellow flowers on compact flower spikes.

Agastache Kudos™ Mandarin Agastache Kudos™ Mandarin
Agastache Kudos™ Mandarin

Agastache Kudos™ Mandarin (PP#25,381) 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 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).

Shop Agastache Plants

  1. FlowerKisser™ Arizona Snow Agastache, Agastache urticifolia Arizona Snow

    FlowerKisser® Arizona Snow Agastache (Agastache urticifolia 'Alba') is a pure white flowered form of mountain hyssop, selected for its exceptional cold hardiness and nectar-rich flo...

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    FlowerKisser™ Arizona Snow Agastache FlowerKisser™ Arizona Snow Hummingbird Mint (Hyssop) Agastache urticifolia Arizona Snow
    Sale Price I Save 5%
    $12.99 Sale $12.34
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    FlowerKisser® Arizona Snow Agastache (Agastache urticifolia 'Alba') is a pure white flowered form of mountain hyssop, selected for its exceptional cold hardiness and nectar-rich flowers. Stunning flowers and fragrant foliage make this a must-have addition to attract native bees and butterflies. Its very upright growth habit make it a wonderful choice for the perennial border. Deer and rabbit resistant. A 2020 High Country Gardens Introduction.
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  2. 'Korean Zest' Agastache compact spikes of blue-violet flowers, Agastache rugosa

    ‘Korean Zest’ Agastache (Agastache rugosa), with its refreshing mint scented flowers and foliage, blooms all season and attracts an amazing number of bees and butterflies to its ...

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    Korean Zest Agastache Korean Zest Hummingbird Mint Agastache rugosa Korean Zest
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $12.99 Sale $11.69
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    ‘Korean Zest’ Agastache (Agastache rugosa), with its refreshing mint scented flowers and foliage, blooms all season and attracts an amazing number of bees and butterflies to its compact spikes of blue-violet flowers. Long-lasting blooms from late spring to early fall make ‘Korean Zest’ a "must have" perennial in the pollinator garden. Aromatic foliage makes Agastache deer and rabbit resistant. Also known as Hummingbird Mint or Hyssop.
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  3. Pink and Orange and Silver Agastache rupestris, Agastache rupestris, Licorice Mint or Sunset Hyssop

    Agastache rupestris (Licorice Mint Hyssop) is one of the best, most durable species in the Agastache family. With smoky orange flowers held by lavender calyxes, the entire plant is s...

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    Agastache rupestris Licorice Hummingbird Mint (Sunset Hyssop) Agastache rupestris
    As low as $11.99 Sale $11.39
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Agastache rupestris (Licorice Mint Hyssop) is one of the best, most durable species in the Agastache family. With smoky orange flowers held by lavender calyxes, the entire plant is scented like licorice and mint. A 1996 High Country Gardens introduction. Drought resistant/drought tolerant perennial plant (xeric).
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  4. Agastache rupestris Glowing Embers, Glowing Embers Licorice Mint Hyssop

    Agastache Glowing Embers is a fantastic selection of Licorice Mint Hyssop (Hummingbird Mint) with fragrant foliage and glowing orange-red tubular flowers that are a favorite with hum...

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    Glowing Embers® Agastache Glowing Embers® Licorice Hummingbird Mint (Hyssop) Agastache rupestris Glowing Embers®
    As low as $10.49 Sale $9.97
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Agastache Glowing Embers is a fantastic selection of Licorice Mint Hyssop (Hummingbird Mint) with fragrant foliage and glowing orange-red tubular flowers that are a favorite with hummingbirds. Plant in containers to enjoy this plant in the eastern U.S. Exclusive. 24-26" tall x 24-28" wide.
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