Similar to Salvias, the Agastache genus is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and flowers in a broad range of colors including blues, oranges, reds, pinks, purples and yellows. As with so many mint family members, Agastaches are pleasantly aromatic and long blooming.
Although some sources site up to 29 species of Agastache, the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families — managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew — identifies 23 along with a number of naturally occurring hybrids, subspecies, and varieties of these species. North America, from Canada to Mexico, accounts for 22 of these species. One extremely cold-hardy species, Agastache rugosa, comes from East Asia and is commonly known as Anise Hyssop or Korean Mint. The USDA PLANTS database notes that 17 of the species are native to the U.S.
Agastaches are full-sun plants with floriferous plumes of tiny, tubular flowers and foliage that ranges from tiny, needle-like leaves to large, fleshy basal rosettes. Species from the Southwest and Mexico are particularly tolerant of heat and drought. In general, these plants grow better in low fertility soils; give them too much nitrogen and they become floppy. (Propagation by seed also tends to produce lax form.) Similar to Salvias, they need soil with good drainage.
Agastache flowers are magnets for butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds. The allure for pollinators is even stronger when these plants are mixed with nectar-rich Salvias (sages). Deer tend to avoid plants from both genuses.
At Flowers by the Sea, we prefer growing compact varieties of Agastaches, including the tough, lovely hybrids that result when Southwestern species are crossed with varieties of A. rugosa. These hybrids adapt to a broad range of USDA Cold Hardiness Zones and, although drought tolerant, can handle more moisture than Southwestern species.
Many Agastaches have a heady aroma that has been described as being a combination of anise (a licorice-like scent), citrus and mint. Some have a more pungent smell similar to tarragon. Agastache essential oils are complex combinations of chemicals and are valued for their use in flavorings, perfumes and pharmaceuticals.
We value the genus for its beauty, fragrance, nectar-rich flowers, ease of growth, low-water demands and compatibility with sages.
(Blue Boa Hummingbird Mint) Luxurious deep violet-blue flower spikes held over ultra-green foliage. Unlike any other Agastache varieties, the flower spikes are long, wide and extremely showy.
(Blue Fortune Hummingbird Mint) Lavender is a more accurate description for the flower color of Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’, which has tall spikes of aromatic, fuzzy foliage leading up to clusters of tiny blossoms that shaped like bottlebrushes.
(Morello Anise Hyssop) Pollinators love Agastache ‘Morello’ for its dense spikes of deep burgundy rose flowers filled with rich nectar. Unlike many anise hyssops that prefer dry conditions, this adaptable perennial even thrives in the humid East and Southeast.
(Sonoran Sunset® Anise Hyssop) An abundance of lavender-rose flowers mark Agastache cana 'Sinning' as being unique from the typical purple-flowered plants of its species. Colorado plantsman Duane Sinning discovered this lovely anise hyssop.
(Ava Hybrid Anise Hyssop) Raspberry calyxes support Ava's rosy-pink flowers, which whorl on tall spikes similar to many Salvias. When the blossoms are spent, the calyxes remain colorful. This long-blooming hummingbird magnet is tolerant of cold, heat and drought.
(Kudos Ambrosia Hybrid Anise Hyssop) Dense plumes of flowers are accented by deep green foliage in this heat- and drought-tolerant favorite of pollinators. Kudos Ambrosia is a compact, clumping, semi-dwarf variety. The originator of this plant describes the color as creamy coconut, pale orange and light rose pink.
(Kudos Mandarin Hybrid Anise Hyssop) Dense plumes of creamy orange flowers are accented by deep green foliage in this heat- and drought-tolerant favorite of pollinators. Kudos Mandarin is a compact, clumping, semi-dwarf variety.
(Kudos Red Hybrid Anise Hyssop) Dense plumes of deep red flowers are accented by mid-green foliage in this heat- and drought-tolerant favorite of pollinators. Kudos Red is a compact, clumping, semi-dwarf variety.
(Kudos Yellow Hybrid Anise Hyssop) Flowers by the Sea is one of the first nurseries nationwide to grow Agastache x 'Kudos Yellow'. This is one of the best deep yellow Agastaches we've found, due to its large, dense flower spikes and bushy, upright form.
(Purple Haze Anise Hyssop) Tall spikes of smoky, bluish-purple flowers and fragrant, blue-green foliage make drought-resistant Agastache x ‘Purple Haze’ an elegant choice for low water gardens. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees love it.
(Rosie Posie Anise Hyssop) Agastache aren’t known for tidy appearance. But the long blooming, hot pink flowers and dense, fragrant foliage of Agastache x ‘Rosie Posie’ form short, dense mounds ideal for well-behaved borders.