Agastache: "Super Stars" of the Perennial World - Part 2

Five Key Tips to Growing Agastache Plants


Agastache CollectionAgastache Collection

It's no surprise that gardeners across the country are bringing Agastache plants into their gardens. Some of these new hybrids are worthwhile while others appear to not be anything really exciting. Never-the-less, I'm excited that this genus is becoming more widely grown.I think that there has been some sales hype and mis-information about growing the Agastache. Reading many garden website posts about the plants, it's clear that this has created some unrealistic expectations among gardeners who are just starting to grow plants of this genus.

The key to growing great Agastache plants? It's simple.

  1. Provide a fast draining soil that's naturally low in fertility.
  2. Plant in full hot sun.
  3. Don't over amend their soil with too much rich compost.
  4. Don't over-fertilize your plant.
  5. Resist the temptation to over-water established plants. (New transplants need regular irrigation their first growing season to establish themselves).

For Agastache, too much of a good thing in the garden results in huge, over-grown plants with poor flowering or un-naturally elongated, sparse flower spikes. Often times these over-stimulated plants will fail to over winter.

Hummingbird Mints are naturally vigorous, fast growing perennial plants. Establish them with ample water the first growing season and fertilize moderately each fall with slow acting natural or organic fertilizers. But beyond that, apply "tough love." When grown properly the plants will amaze you and come back much more reliably.

Recommended Hummingbird Mints (Hyssops) that will stand the test of time

Agastache cana RositaAgastache cana Rosita

Agastache cana 'Rosita'; a rose-pink native beauty I discovered growing among a group of our Agastache cana plants grown from habitat collected seed. 'Rosita' stood out from the others because of its compact stature (only about 2/3rds as tall as the usual A. cana plant) and its profusion of flowers tightly packed into the flowering spikes. 'Rosita' has roughly 50% more individual flowers per spike than is typical for the species. Grown from cuttings collected from that one original plant,'Rosita' is especially useful in smaller spaces and makes a superb companion for just about any other summer/early fall blooming perennials (such as Echinacea 'Rocky Top Hybrid', Lavender 'Buena Vista' and Hymenoxys) that enjoy full, hot sun and a lean, well drained loam or sandy-loam soil.

Text and Photos By David Salman

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15 thoughts on “Agastache: "Super Stars" of the Perennial World - Part 2”

  • Kathy E,

    What do I do with the plants after they are done blooming? Do I cut them back? How much? Do they return in the Spring from the root? Same questions for Yarrow and the Russian Sage. Thanks.

    • David Salman

      Kathy;
      Agastache and yarrow should be deadheaded during the growing season to keep them looking tidy. If you have many types of Agastache they will re-seed somewhat, so deadheading will prevent this. Russian sage should be left standing until the spring, as it doesn't stop blooming until hard frost in the fall.

      All three should be cut back hard in mid-spring. Agastache form a mound of new growth in early spring and it is easy to see where the old stems should be cut. Yarrow should be cut to the ground. Russian Sage should be cut to a height of 6-12".

  • Kathy E,

    Do all species of Agastache like similar soil environments and water and sun conditions?

    • David Salman

      Kathy:
      In general Agastache like the same growing conditions; full to half day of sun, a lean (infertile soil) with fast drainage and not too much supplemental watering once established.

  • Theresa

    David,
    I have a couple agastache plants that are planted in a southern exposure spot. They bloomed and bloomed so beautifully the first summer, but this year, they are large, putting out a lot of stems, but the blooms never materialize. I have other agastache in other parts of the garden and they are doing fine. I don't think I have done anything different, but could this be from too much watering or could they be too crowded in this particular spot? Would it help to trim down or deadhead now (mid-September)? By the way, we are up in Taos, at 7300'. I have bought all my agastache from High Country Gardens and love these plants.
    Thanks for any advice you may have.

    • David Salman

      Theresa,
      I'm gratified to hear that you're enjoying this wonderful group of perennials. Generally, these plants are very low care and flower dependably.

      Regarding your 2 yr. large, non-blooming plants, this is most happens when the plants have been given too much nitrogen rich fertilizer or compost during the growing season. This causes lush, green growth with few flowers. Is it possible these plants were over fertilized?

      Crowding are too much water doesn't prevent flowering with these plants.

      Don't cut down the stems of the non-bloomers; wait until mid-spring. Watch the plants carefully during the growing season. If they lack vigor and/or don't set flowers by mid-summer, you may want to replace the plants with fresh plants or volunteer seedlings that will invariably show up in your garden next spring.

  • Tammy Schmitt
    Tammy Schmitt 11/02/09 at 12:11 am

    A million thanks for selling an agastache that does well in the hot, humid southeast!! I live near Washington DC and am growing Agastache 'Shades of Orange' with great success!! I've met other devotees of your catalog at local garden centers and we're always thrilled to find an HCG plant that doesn't melt in our humidity. By ammending the soil with LOTS of growers grit or Perma Til, we can trick our local clay into draining fast enough to keep these beauties alive!! Bravo to you!!

    • David Salman

      Tammy:
      Thanks for the feedback on Agastache 'Shades of Orange'. It's not a super cold hardy type here in New Mexico so it's gratifying to know that it's thriving in milder winter climate like DC. Glad to hear you've discovered an good way of creating fast drainage in your clay soil. Otherwise your 'Shades of Orange' wouldn't be very happy.

  • Soni Wolfe
    Soni Wolfe 08/17/10 at 4:49 pm

    I LOVE Agastache!! Live in Wisconsin & would like to know the zone
    toleraces of the ones you talk about. Thinking they won't grow in my climate! Soni

  • ML

    Live in Taos and the agastache is a highlight in my gardens. Visitors are amazed by this plant, and it is continually covered with hummers. Thanks for bringing so many varieties to us. There's always one to fit in any spot.

  • Fawn Palmer
    Fawn Palmer 11/10/10 at 3:40 am

    November 10, 2010. We are enjoying our tenth day of observing a Rufous/Allen's hummingbird Selasphorus which is coming in to our nectar feeder. This sits right in front of our living room picture window so we have front row seats. She/he is fit and fine, even though temps have dropped to just above freezing for several nights. Nectaring on Agastache we have not yet observed. This summer we enjoyed the Ruby-throated hummingbird Archilochus colubris until about the last week of September. On October 9th, I was in the garden and a hummingbird flew over my head low and stopped to nectar at Agastache 'Tutti Frutti'. Do not know what species since the bird was backlit in bright fall sunlight. Love these Agastache...still blooming until frost for us here in the tidwater Northern Neck of Virginia, zone 7.

  • Lorraine

    Hi David,

    I have an agastache that is in a container and has done great for 3=4 years. However this spring I am not seeing any green yet. I have not cut off the dead growth yet because I was waiting to see if it was going to come back. Any ideas? do I assume it is dead?

  • Chris

    Hiya David
    Been growing the new varieties of agastache for two years now.....black adder, samfria, blue boa, summer sunset, summer love, and others. Love em all.
    I'm in mild cornwall in uk, have sandy loam and agastaches grow well here. I've been taking cuttings.....incl basal cuttings....to ensure plants for next year. What is best way to overwinter,agastaches.....we can get frost and temps can touch -2 or so. Do I dig them up and pot them to overwinter in the greenhouse (unheated) ?
    Thanks chris

    • David Salman

      Chris, Agastache are cold hardy to at least 0 degrees F so minus 2 C is just barely below freezing and won't harm the plants. As long as the soil is well drained and you don't cut them back in the fall (do that in mid-spring) they are fine growing in the soil.

  • Janet Chemotti
    Janet Chemotti 08/13/13 at 6:03 am

    Hi David, I recently purchased several agastache, Acapulco variety, at our local Lowe's...read the tag after I planted, because I trusted that the store wouldn't sell plants that weren't for our Zone 5 climate (near Syracuse)...big mistake, tag read Zone 7 when I looked at it (after I planted them, of course :/). Anyway, how can I keep these guys alive over the winter? Love their scent, and they look great in my garden, actually would like to establish a couple of new areas of beds where these plants can be the star! Thanks in advance for your response.

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