Being a landscape designer in Santa Clarita, California has allowed me to delve into the lives and uses of plants. The more I learn the more I find that my favorites list grows. One simple way to get on to my favorites list is to be an easy care plant that attracts wildlife into my garden and this little baby fits the bill!
Agastache or Hyssop is also called Hummingbird mint, it is related to mint but not invasive, if you have a few of these in your garden you will find that they really do attract those Hummingbirds. The lovely Agastache foeniculum has a pretty lavender flower it is called Anise Hyssop and the flowers have a licorice flavor (sorry mine is not blooming yet). Other varieties range from the minty flavored Korean Hyssop to the crisp biting variety called Tutti Fruitti which sports pinky orange flowers and is currently one of my favorites. The leaves can be used in teas, or a few thrown into a salad – but I have read that too much of a good thing isn’t necessarily great and those prone to seizures or pregnant women should not be adding hyssop to their diet.
Now for care, most agastaches like full sun but don’t mind a little shade, mine happily thrive in Santa Clarita in morning sun/afternoon shade. I like to create a nice grouping by planting (an odd number) about 18” on center in soil that drains well, and remember once they are established most can be very drought tolerant so they play well with Russian Sage (Petrovskia), liatris, and lavenders. I have mine mixed in with lavender, ornamental grasses and some bearded iris, I think I’m adding an Asclepias to the bunch – but not sure yet.
Fertilize with a low nitrogen fertilizer so that you can get the benefit of the fact that they bloom from late spring through almost frost. I’ve read that you should fertilize monthly but I’ve also read that you should fertilize twice a year, so I just fertilize all my plants about every few months or if they look like they need it. Once I’m out in the garden, I just kind of listen to my plants.
I know that having a long flowering plant is a wonderful thing but if you cut back the flower stalks as the flowers fade the plant will actually become stronger and produce more flowers, so you might want to get those pruners out once in a while and trim a little to shape. Divide your plants in the fall or late winter about every three years or so. This will keep them vigorous and make other parts of your garden or your friends very happy as you distribute new plants. Save the real cutting back of the stems until spring, the stems and seed heads provide winter interest and food for birds and provide a little extra warmth to the plant and therefore add winter hardiness.
I’ve read that slugs may be one of the only pests to hit your agastache, if that happens you can use an organic, pet safe slug product such as Sluggo or Escar go! As far as pests, in my garden the slugs eat my kalanchoe and seem to leave my agastache alone.
If you would like help beautifying your life, think about creating a garden with me. You can call me at 661-917-3521, contact me via email at [email protected] or visit my website.