by High Country Gardens

Agastache 'Red Happiness' (Red Happiness Hybrid Hummingbird Mint)

Red Happiness Agastache Red Happiness Agastache blooms with red flowers, which are very rare in the genus.

This true red-flowered Hummingbird Mint appeared as a volunteer seedling in one of my xeric gardens several years ago. It came up in a very shady, dry spot under a Desert Hackberry and the plant was struggling. But it's unusual flower color caught my eye and I took some cuttings so I could test the plant in other sunnier, not-so-hostile locations.

Why the Name 'Red Happiness'?

Wow! Happiness was the theme of the day when the new plants came into full flower and I could really see what it could do. The plant blooms with red flowers, which are very rare in the genus. Hence 'Red Happiness' was put into production for release this fall 2014. (Note that in really hot weather, the color fades a bit to dusky-red, but deeper red returns as the temperatures cool.)

How Does it Do in the Garden?

I'm not sure of the parentage, but I believe it probably involves three native species. (I have a lot of Agastache in all my gardens, so there are many opportunities for cross-pollination.) Here's more about 'Red Happiness':

  • It has excellent hybrid vigor and good cold hardiness (Zones 5-10).
  • Is medium sized, reaching 28-32" in height.
  • Has summer long bloom when deadheaded.
  • Grows mid-green leaves that have a pleasant minty scent.
  • Is very attractive to hummingbirds (Hybrid Agastache seem to have increased nectar production over un-hybridized species.)

Companion Plants

'Red Happiness' is adaptable in its growing conditions thriving in lean to average, loamy garden soils as long as the drainage is good. Stay out of the clay! So we have a wide range of companion plants to choose from. The red flowers seem to look particularly nice with yellow flowers. Blue is really nice too.

I like the following companions:

  1. Sterntaler Tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata 'Sterntaler) - a great German strain of Tickseed (loosely translates "Gold Coin") with deep yellow flowers and a bronze eye.
  2. Evening Primrose (Oenothera missouriensis) - big, bright yellow parasol-like flowers open up in the afternoon and the plants make a nice lower growing skirt around the Agastache.
  3. Butterscotch Baby African Daisy (Gazania 'Butterscotch Baby') - the wonder butterscotch yellow flowers are delight with red. A small perennial, it makes a great low growing companion in front of 'Red Happiness.'
  4. Walker's Low Catmint (Nepeta 'Walker's Low') - big lavender-blue plants go behind 'Red Happiness' and highlight the red flowers for you to enjoy.
  5. English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) - I always plant Lavender with Agastache because blue is such a great combination with all the different Agastache flower colors.
  6. Purple Sensation Ornamental onion (Allium 'Purple sensation') - big purple globes provide a sensational combination with red.

Fall Planting Agastache

  • I don't like to fall plant Agastache in zone 5 because there is not enough warm weather to grow the crown.
  • Zone 6 and warmer are ideal for fall planting 'Red Happiness' and will help you to establish a bigger plant with more flowering spikes next year.
  • In dry winter climates, be sure there is a nice wide saucer (well) to hold irrigation water.
  • Mulch the saucer with at least on inch of mulch material.
  • Remember to water once every two to four weeks when the day temperatures warm to 45 ° F.
  • Leave the stems standing to increase winter hardiness.
Text and Photos By David Salman
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