by David Salman
Two Old Plant Friends Return, Bringing You Color, Fragrance and Hummingbirds
Fragrance. A wonderful attribute that has attracted mankind to aromatic plants since the dawn of time. As gardeners, we get to have the fun of growing these plants in addition to enjoying their fragrance. Many of us are familiar with herbal plants such as lavender, rosemary and scented geraniums.The Agastache are a group of very showy flowering perennials that have equally aromatic leaves and flowers. As a group they have only recently been introduced into widespread cultivation over the past 5 to 10 years, but because of their often startling beauty, the Agastache have really captured people's attention and their desire to grow them.
Growing Agastache in the Right Spot
The key to growing the Agastache (Hummingbird Mints) is to find a hot, sunny planting site with quick draining soil of low fertility. Clay and rich, water-retentive loamy soils are a poor match for these plants.
Regionally, the drier climates of the Great Plains, Intermountain West and West Coast are where Agastache are most happy and long lived. For gardeners further east with too much rain or those with the wrong garden soil, Agastache are very successfully enjoyed as showy potted plants like zonal Geraniums. Use them in your container gardens mixed with annuals, ornamental grasses and other perennials. They bloom the first growing season and will bring hummingbirds right up to your outdoor living spaces with their nectar-rich flowers. A living hummingbird feeder in a pot!
Two of the Very Best Agastaches
I've been growing, breeding and selecting new Agastache varieties for many years. This has familiarized me with the best varieties and how they like to be grown. And I'm pleased to have two of my favorites back in the catalog. Both these cultivars have intriguing multi-colored flower spikes in shades orange and pink, and mint scented blooms and foliage.
- Agastache Desert Sunrise™ - This is my first hybrid Hummingbird Mint released by High Country Gardens in 2000. A garden cross between two of the best and most growable species, Agastache cana and A. rupestris, Desert Sunrise™ is a big, vigorous grower sometimes topping out at nearly four feet in height. It's also interesting to note that this vigorous hybrid has enhanced nectar production, more copious than either of the parent plants, and is a favorite of the hummingbirds. Its larger size and robust growth habit make it a great companion plant for Blue Spire Russian Sage, Silver Ironweed and Blue Mist Spirea.
- Agastache Acapulco® Salmon and Pink - A very well bred group of hybrid Hummingbird Mints, the Acapulco® series have impressed me with their cold hardiness and durability in the garden. Salmon and Pink brings a softer shade of pink and orange to the garden. And the plant is vigorous with its big flower spikes and attractive foliage. Combine it with 'Powis Castle' Sage, French Hybrid Lavender and Muhly Grasses.
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