Known also as anise hyssop, agastache is a delicate perennial with scented leaves and showy flower spikes that bloom all summer. When it comes to flower colors, newer types are more vibrant than older ones, with brighter hues like red and orange.
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It’s a yearly occurrence in warm climates. It is a perennial in cold areas, making it an excellent addition to any garden. Anise flavoring in the leaves makes them a popular ingredient in herbal teas and in cooking.
These prolific herbaceous perennials, which have over 22 different species, are popular because of their capacity to attract pollinators despite their difficult pronunciation (“ah-GAH-stuh-kee”). Acanthus foeniculum (Agastache foeniculum), licorice mint (Agastache rupestris), and hummingbird mint (Agastache nectarum) are some of the more common, descriptive names for these plants (Agastache cana). The numerous flower spikes give the agastache its Greek name, which translates to “very great ear of grain.” There’s no shortage of color options with the agastache, which can be found in a variety of hues ranging from light pink to deep purple; blue; red and orange; and white. You may dry it and use it to make a delightful herbal tea that has a minty, herbaceous scent.
There are many varieties of this plant that are native to North and South America, as well as Asia. There are a number of native xeriscape plants that are well-suited for hot and dry conditions, but the most widely planted one, Agastache cana, comes from the southwest United States and Mexico. If you live in a temperate climate, you may want to look into the different varieties to see which one is best for you.
As a deer and rabbit deterrent, Agastache attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds like a magnet. It’s also a long-blooming perennial, putting on a show for weeks at a time in the heat of the season. A near relative of catmint, another flowering perennial that is beneficial to pollinators, is this species.
With its profuse growth and consistent color and scent, the cottage garden perennial agastache has many characteristics with other cottage garden perennials. In contrast, agastache will struggle to thrive in extremely rich or fertile soils, which are a trademark of the cottage garden. Including agastache in a cottage garden setting implies planting it in a separate portion of the garden with other plants that prefer lean soil. Sedum, bearded irises, Russian sage, and black-eyed susan are among the possibilities. To encourage reblooming and growth during the bloom, cut back wasted flower spikes
When & Where to Plant Agastache
In full light, Agastache (or Anise Hyssop) thrives, blooms, and produces fruit. In hotter climates, they may tolerate afternoon shadow, but their flowers may be less impressive.
Fertile, well-drained soils are ideal for growing agastache. It prefers a soil that is close to neutral, and will benefit from the addition of lime in locations with acidic soils.
Agastache seeds should be sown indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the latest frost date. Transplants should be at least 4 inches tall before moving them outside. Plants need to be spaced 12 to 15 inches apart for best results. After the first four leaves appear, you can also sow seeds in rows outside and thin them to a distance of one foot apart. Anise hyssop transplants flower earlier than seeds sown directly in the ground.
Planting: After the risk of frost has gone, plant Agastache in the spring. Early June is the ideal time to start seedlings. Agastache is a simple plant to grow from seed in the ground. Seeds can be sown in the spring or fall. Seeds sown in the fall will remain dormant throughout the winter and will germinate in the spring.
How to Grow Agastache Throughout the Season
Agastache is an erect plant that can grow up to 4 feet tall and 1 foot broad. From the beginning of summer through the end of the season, it produces flower spikes with purple to blue flowers. The hues of the flower spikes of newer kinds are more varied.
Because of its sturdy stems, Agastache rarely necessitates staking. Once the flower stalks form, you can stake them to help them grow straighter stems for cutting. Also, if you put Agastache plants in clusters, they will be able to support each other and avoid being blown over by a summer storm.
Agastache, once established, is a drought-resistant herb. Soil moisture is essential for seed germination and growth. These mint family plants are hardy and can survive without watering for weeks at a time once they’ve matured.
Before growing Agastache, amend the soil with compost. In most cases, more fertilizer isn’t necessary. To the contrary, a plant with excessive fertility will flower less and later, producing fewer essential oils in the leaves and flowers as a result. It can also make the stems floppy and more prone to falling over.
Mulching isn’t necessary with Agastache because of its drought tolerance. A 1- to 2-inch layer of pine needles or crushed stone mulch can help new plants grow and keep weeds at bay in extremely dry circumstances.
Agastache doesn’t require any additional fertilizer, but a fall top dressing of compost will help it stay healthy all year long.
- Soft periwinkle blue flowers adorn this European hybrid, dubbed ‘Blue Fortune’. There is a little bit more rain and cold-hardiness in this type (USDA 4-10).
- When it comes to color, the combination of light orange and dusty purple in the ‘Licorice Mint Hyssop’ is a stunning and distinctive one. One of the best things about this scent is that it is both sweet and refreshing. Giant hyssop (threadleaf hyssop)
- In abundance, the gentle rose-pink flowers of ‘Agastache Cana’ appear (USDA 5-10). From early summer to the end of the season, it blooms profusely and nicely in containers.
- Garnet-green leaves and coppery orange flowers attract hummingbirds to the ‘Agastache Firebird’ shrub.
- ‘Agastache Honey Bee Blue’ is a classic type with soft bushy lavender blue flower spikes and slightly larger bluish green foliage.
Pruning shears can be used to clip 6 to 8 inch sections of green stems in late summer or fall in order to cultivate agastache from seed. Remove the lowest leaves and use a sharp knife to softly scrape the exposed stem. Rooting hormone should be applied to the scraped section and the stems should be placed in a sterile mixture of perlite and sand in a tiny pot. Using a large plastic bag or humidity dome, carefully water the plants. Gently pull on the stem to see if the roots have grown in 2 to 3 weeks. When fresh leaves begin to grow, remove the cover from the soil and keep it moist.
Growing Agastache from Seed
Agastache is a fast-spreading plant in the garden once it’s established. It might be split up every year or as necessary. In order to grow Agastache seeds, they must be subjected to cold stratification in the fall, thus immediately sowing them in the garden is the ideal technique. It’s a good idea to press seeds into loose soil in the fall and water them every few days; if you live in an area where winter snow falls, this will ensure that they sprout in spring. A light soaking of the seeds during the dry winter months will help them germinate when the weather warms up in the spring.
Agastache: End of Season Care
Agastache plants can be pruned in the spring by pinching the new growth to encourage a bushier appearance. For a neat plant, remove spent flower stalks by deadheading (trimming). Pruning and deadheading Agastache perennials after midsummer is not recommended. Fall growth that may not make it through the winter is stimulated by late-season pruning.
If growing Agastache as an annual, keep trimming and deadheading as needed. If you want to prevent Agastache from sowing seeds, which it does rampantly, deadhead before the flower stalks turn brown and the seeds mature and drop to the ground.
Agastache can be grown as an annual, in which case it should be trimmed and deadheaded as needed. Deadhead Agastache before the flower stalks turn brown and the seeds mature and fall to the ground to prevent it from dispersing seeds, which it does prolifically.
Agastache can be cultivated as an annual in colder areas or as a perennial in hotter climates by dividing and transplanting. Cooler conditions don’t necessitate the division of plants. As a perennial plant that dies back to the ground in the winter, Agastache will turn brown and die. Divide perennials every three to five years with a one-foot diameter slice and transplant in a comparable place with similar growing circumstances, which can be done in the spring.
Pests & Diseases: Agastache is relatively free of pests and diseases. A spider mite attack can cause leaf curling and yellowing in dry weather. During dry weather, make a habit of washing off the leaves to keep sider mites at bay. Reduce pesticide use to avoid killing spider mite predators, but if necessary, use insecticidal soap to deal with tiny infestations.
Because Agastache prefers well-drained soil, bacteria and fungal growth can cause the plant’s crown to rot in damp clay soils and regions that receive a lot of winter rain. In order to stop this deterioration, prevention is best. Plants do well in sandy loam soils, however raised beds can also be used if the right soil is brought in.
Agastache: Extra Info
Agastache is a self-seeding plant that spreads rapidly. In the spring, you’ll observe a lot of young seedlings sprouting around established plants. Fortunately, these seedlings are easy to transplant and can be moved around the garden or removed with a hoe or similar gardening tool. However, don’t be surprised if they don’t look exactly like their mother’s leaf and flower hue.