Culture June 2014

Perennial Solutions: Agastache Acapulco Deluxe Series
By Paul Pilon

Agastache has been gaining in popularity in recent years. The increase in demand for this perennial is well deserved; after all, its aromatic foliage and showy flowers are appealing to bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and landscapers alike. If you are interested in adding an easy-to-grow perennial with a long-lasting blooming window into your production plan, consider the Acapulco Deluxe series from Green Fuse Botanicals.

The breeding of the Acapulco Deluxe series is a joint project between Thompson Morgan and Green Fuse Botanicals. There are currently three cultivars in the series: Carmine Red (crimson red flowers), Chiffon (lilac blooms) and Rose (rose flower spikes). Two additional cultivars (‘Acapulco Deluxe Peach’ and ‘Acapulco Deluxe Yellow’) are being added to the series beginning with the 2014 to 2015 growing season.

The leaves and flowers of Acapulco Deluxe are highly fragrant with a sweet licorice aroma. The series is compact, reaching an attractive 8 to 12 inches in height when in bloom. They perform well across USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 10. Agastache is a fabulous summer perennial with a very long bloom time; consider using this one in the landscape or patio containers.


The agastache Acapulco Deluxe series is vegetatively propagated from tip cuttings. Choose a propagation mix with good drainage and good aeration porosity. Moisten the rooting substrate prior to sticking the unrooted cuttings (URCs). Stick one URC into each cell. Rooting compounds are beneficial; spraying the cuttings with 1,000-ppm IBA soluble salts within 24 hours of sticking will improve the uniformity of rooting and decrease rooting times.

Place the cuttings under a moderate misting regime for the first few days of propagation. After the cuttings are acclimated to the propagation environment, provide enough mist to keep the cuttings turgid. Avoid over-misting as it will saturate the propagation mix and result in slow rooting and other cultural problems. When possible, it is usually best to propagate agastache under high humidity levels (90 percent relative humidity) with minimal misting. Gradually decrease the mist throughout propagation. Apply 100-ppm nitrogen beginning seven to 10 days after sticking the cuttings.

Agastache will begin to develop roots within seven to 10 days of sticking. The cuttings are usually rooted in less than three weeks with soil temperatures ranging from 68 to 75° F. Providing bottom heat, maintaining 70 to 75° F will promote faster root development. Many propagators pinch newly rooted liners at approximately three weeks after sticking to improve branching and performance of the liners after transplanting. Liners take approximately five to six weeks from sticking to become fully rooted and ready for shipping or potting.


It is best to produce Acapulco Deluxe in 1-gallon or smaller-sized containers. They prefer to be grown in a well-drained medium with pH between 5.8 and 6.2. Many growing mixes will suffice; however, avoid ones with high water holding ability. Avoid planting the liners too deeply; the liners should be planted so the original soil line of the liner is even with the surface of the growing medium of the new container.

Agastache do not like having wet feet; over-watering them will lead to root rot and performance issues. Weak growth and yellowing are good indications that too much irrigation is being applied. When irrigation is necessary, water them thoroughly then allow the soil to dry moderately between irrigations. Although Mexican hyssop is drought tolerant in the landscape, do not allow mature plants grown in containers to become excessively dry.

They are considered light-to-moderate feeders. Nutrients can be delivered using water-soluble or controlled-release fertilizers. Growers using water-soluble fertilizers can apply 100- to 125-ppm nitrogen with each irrigation or use 200 ppm as needed. Controlled-release fertilizers are commonly incorporated into the growing medium prior to planting at a rate equivalent to 1.0 pounds of elemental nitrogen per yard of growing medium. Growing them under high fertility regimes generally results in soft growth and delays flowering.

Although this series branches well, it is often beneficial to provide a soft pinch one to two weeks after planting, once the plants become established. Large container sizes may require an additional pinch.

Acapulco Deluxe are naturally compact and should not require height management strategies. Undesirable stem elongation can often be managed by providing adequate spacing between the plants and growing them under high light levels. If the plants need to be toned, apply spray applications of 2500-ppm daminozide, 2500-ppm daminozide + 1250-ppm chlormequat chloride, 30-ppm paclobutrazol or 5-ppm uniconazole. In most instances, one application will be sufficient.

Insects and Diseases

Agastache can generally be produced relatively free of insects and diseases. Occasionally, aphids, spider mites, thrips and whiteflies may appear causing only a minimal amount of crop injury. Pythium and Phytopthora are the primary diseases growers observe. The occurrence of these pathogens can be reduced by planting the liners properly and with good irrigation practices. Other diseases to look for include Botrytis, downy mildew, Heterosporium leaf spots and rust. Growers can detect these insect pests and diseases with routing scouting programs.

Temperature and Scheduling

Flowering plants of Acapulco Deluxe can easily be done throughout the year. They do not have a vernalization requirement for flowering. If the plants are over-wintered, avoid keeping them overly moist and be sure to provide adequate protection during the winter months. They are day neutral and will flower under any day length. Growing agastache under high light intensities will increase the number of flowers, improve the coloration of the blooms and produce higher quality plants.

The best quality plants are produced when they are grown with night temperatures above 60° F and day temperatures above 65° F. The amount of grow time required depends on the production temperatures and the container size. At these temperatures, 4-inch pots take six to seven weeks to reach a marketable size, whereas larger 6-inch containers require nine to 10 weeks to flower.


Paul Pilon

Paul Pilon is a horticultural consultant, owner of Perennial Solutions Consulting (, and author of Perennial Solutions: A Grower’s Guide to Perennial Production. He can be reached at 616.366.8588 or

Gardening How-to Articles

Agastache: Fragrant Foliage and Colorful Blooms

By Bob Hyland | June 2, 2004

My passion for the genus Agastache (pronounced ag-ah-STACK-key) began decades ago in the herb garden of a friend. She pointed out Agastache foeniculum, commonly called anise hyssop, and made me rub the coarse leaves to release their pungent aroma, which was mintlike, with hints of licorice and citrus. It came as no surprise to me to learn that the fresh and dried leaves of the plant are used as a food seasoning and for making tea.

While the leaf fragrance was memorable that day, I was even more taken by the herb’s elegant upright habit and dense spikes of powder-blue flowers. Here was another good herb that could escape from the utilitarian herb garden to the ornamental perennial border. My friend further encouraged me to nibble on some flowers, which she described as tasting of a good frosted mug of Stewart’s root beer. I agreed, and from that moment on, Agastache foeniculum became the “root beer plant” to me.

Ever since perennials took the garden world by storm in the 1990s, other worthy species and hybrids of Agastache have come to my attention. Like anise hyssop, they all produce wonderful pungent foliage and bear dainty, tubular flowers on dense spikes from midsummer until first frost. But many are quite different in appearance from A. foeniculum, most notably in their flower color and leaf size and shape. The range of flower colors is especially impressive, reminding me of a dessert tray of passion fruit, peach, orange, and raspberry sorbets, as well as other flavors in between.

As if beautiful form, color, and aroma weren’t enough to recommend Agastache, the genus is also a magnet for wildlife. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love to drink from the nectar-rich flowers. Hummers are highly attracted to red, orange, and pink-flowered forms, while butterflies, particularly swallowtails, favor the blue-flowered varieties.

The greatest concentration of Agastache species occurs in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The rest are scattered across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. The genus is part of the Lamiaceae, or mint family, which accounts for its square stems and aromatic foliage. In northern climate zones, most Agastache species are tender perennials—they sometimes winter over but do not seem to be long-lived in the garden. Southwestern species (A. aurantiaca, A. cana, A. rupestris) endure very dry conditions and poor, well-drained soils in their native habitat, but most of these adapt to richer, organic soils and wetter summers and winters in other regions of the country.

Agastache Culture

Plant Agastache in full sun to light shade in fertile, well-drained garden soil. If you periodically deadhead spent flower spikes, you’ll extend bloom by preventing seed set. To coax winter hardiness in my northeastern garden in USDA Hardiness Zone 5, I leave the leaf and flower stems on the plants over the winter. In April, I cut the dead stems off about four to five inches above ground and hope and patiently wait for new growth—I am sometimes rewarded if the winter hasn’t been too severe. I encourage adventurous gardeners in regions with wet, cold winters similar to mine to plant the southwestern species on sunny south- or west-facing slopes or in raised beds with sandy, fast-draining soil. The plant’s crown should be planted high and then mulched with crushed gravel to encourage drainage away from the plant and to absorb heat on sunny winter days.

Agastache is relatively free of pests and diseases, with the exception of powdery mildew, rust, and other fungal pathogens that can affect the leaves during hot, humid weather if air circulation is poor. Plants can be propagated from spring division or sown from seed in early spring at soil temperatures of 55°F to 65°F. Root semiripe cuttings in either spring or late summer.

The Agastache A-List

I continue to test Agastache species and hybrids available in the marketplace in my New York Hudson Valley garden and nursery. Here are my recommendations for adventurous gardeners—see what you think.

Agastache cana (hummingbird’s mint; wild hyssop)

The prolific raspberry-pink flowers of A. cana are truly the color of Häagen Dazs raspberry sorbet and are adored by hummingbirds. Native to the mountains of southern New Mexico and western Texas, this species produces two- to three-foot-tall flower spikes that wave and cavort happily in the summer border. Zones 5 to 9.

Agastache rugosa (Korean hyssop; wrinkled giant hyssop)

This species was originally collected in Korea by plant explorer Dan Hinkley of Heronswood Nursery fame and has proven to be very gardenworthy. Its two-inch triangular leaves are handsome deep green with a hint of purple beneath, and they exude a strong mint fragrance. Stunning deep violet-blue flowers bloom atop two-foot stems all summer and fall. This East Asian species is well adapted to wet temperate climates. Zones 5 to 9.

Agastache rupestris (sunset hyssop)

I love this Agastache for its narrow, fine-cut, gray-green leaves, soft texture, and salmon-colored flowers. True to the genus, its leaves emit a pungent, spicy fragrance. A three-foot-tall rugged plant, it can endure very dry conditions once established. Zones 5 to 9.

Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’

A hybrid of A. foeniculum and A. rugosa, this robust nonstop bloomer is probably the hardiest Agastache and one of the best butterfly feeding stations in the garden. Its fat, five-inch-long spikes of powder-blue flowers perch atop three-foot stems. The two- to three-inch, toothed green leaves are strongly licorice-scented. Zones 6 to 10.

Agastache x ‘Desert Sunrise’

High Country Gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico, introduced this great Agastache (a hybrid of A. rupestris and A. cana) to gardeners. Flower spikes are the color of, you guessed it, a desert sunrise—blending shades of orange, pink, and lavender. This sturdy Agastache is the tallest in the group, reaching up to four feet. It adapts well to both dry and normal garden conditions and is a favorite of hummingbirds. Zones 5 to 10.

Agastache ‘Tutti-Frutti’

Aptly named for its fruit-scented foliage, ‘Tutti-Frutti’ sports showstopping raspberry-red flowers on slender two- to three-foot stems. A hybrid of A. barberi and A. mexicana (two other gardenworthy natives), it adapts well to container culture and will attract hummingbirds right to your doorstep. Zones 7 to 10.

Bedfellows and Companions

Perennials with gray foliage like Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’, silvery-white stems like Russian sage (Perovskia ‘Longin’), and burgundy foliage like Euphorbia dulcis ‘Chameleon’ or Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’ provide nice contrast and background to the sorbet colors of Agastache in bloom. A clumping ornamental grass like blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens), the copper-red Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’, or a companion herb like rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Tuscan Blue’) provide spiky form and vertical rhythm to complement Agastache.

Since Agastache continues to bloom profusely until frost, consider combinations with fall-blooming asters (Aster laevis ‘Bluebird’, A. oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite’, or Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’) or goldenrod (Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’).

Don’t forget that Agastache is also a terrific plant for pots and containers and mixes nicely with annuals and tender perennials such as Angelonia, Plectranthus species, Strobilanthes dyeriana, Alternanthera polygonoides ‘Purple Select’, and many cultivars of coleus (Solenostemon).

Nursery Sources:

Avant Gardens
710 High Hill Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747
508-998-8819 Canyon Creek Nursery
3527 Dry Creek Road
Oroville, CA 95965
530-533-2166 Goodwin Creek Gardens
P.O. Box 83
Williams, OR 97544
800-846-7359 High Country Gardens
2902 Rufina Street
Santa Fe, NM 87507
800-925-9387 Loomis Creek Nursery
29 Van Deusen Road
Hudson, NY 12534

(On-premises sales only.)

Bob Hyland is a former VP of Horticulture and Operations at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. He currently co-owns Loomis Creek Nursery in Hudson, New York, which specializes in out-of-the-ordinary perennials, tender perennials, and annuals.

Agastache — Hummingbird Mint / Hyssop

One of the most colorful perennials in the summer and fall garden, Agastache (ah-gah-STAH–key) is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) from which most species derive their common name, hummingbird mint.

Green to greenish gray leaves and stiff upright stalks grow in slowly expanding clumps highlighted by spikes of tubular, two-lipped blossoms in white, mauve, lavender, peach, pink, or orange. Flowers are rich in nectar that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. Blooming usually lasts until the first hard frost.
Agastache prefers soils low in fertility, somewhat on the alkaline side of the pH scale. If lavender grows well for you, so will agastache. Good drainage in the garden is a must as is a sunny spot that receives deep, infrequent waterings after plants are established. Drought is more tolerant in coastal sites.
Small species may be planted in drifts along the front of borders and larger ones farther back for spectacular statements. Intermingle with other sun-loving perennials or mix into the vegetable garden for added late-season color.

When different agastache varieties are grown together they may cross-pollinate and their seedlings may not be true to the parent plant. Deadheading and removing volunteers helps prevent cross-pollination, although many gardeners rely on self-sowing for prolonged presence since agastache can be short-lived, especially in clay soils.
Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop or giant blue hyssop): anise scented 3 ft. high by 2 ft. wide with purplish blue flowers; tolerates Sonoma County winters better than other species.

A. hybrids: colorful names such as ‘Apricot Sunrise,’ Firebird,’ ‘Tangerine Dreams,’ and ‘Tutti Frutti’ are among the most commonly available in nurseries.

A. rugosa(Korean hyssop): 3-5 ft. tall by 2 ft. wide with violet blue flowers that bloom the first season after planting; tolerates wetter feet than most varieties.

A. rupestris(licorice mint): 2 ft. high and wide with narrow gray-green leaves and coral flowers.

A. mexicana (giant Mexican lemon hyssop) 2-5 ft. tall by 1-ft.wide, orange flowers, lemon-scented leaves.

August 2019

Agastache, Anise-Hyssop, Hummingbird Mint ‘Black Adder’

View this plant in a garden




Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun




Foliage Color:

Unknown – Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual


Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Color:


Medium Purple

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown – Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Richmond, California

Denver, Colorado

Washington, District of Columbia

Brooksville, Florida

Deland, Florida

Atlanta, Georgia

Lula, Georgia

Saint Charles, Illinois

Hebron, Kentucky

Franklin, Massachusetts

Topsfield, Massachusetts

Wayland, Massachusetts

Harbert, Michigan

Pinconning, Michigan

Hopkins, Minnesota

Ocean Grove, New Jersey

Accord, New York

Coram, New York

Elba, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Greensboro, North Carolina

Geneva, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Norman, Oklahoma

Malvern, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Knoxville, Tennessee

Belton, Texas

Conroe, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Houston, Texas

Centreville, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Freeland, Washington

Kalama, Washington

show all

Garden Guru: Hummingbird mints prove versatile in all gardens

The agastache comes with a lot of common names like anise hyssop, giant hyssop and hummingbird mint, but I assure you, outstanding will be one of your adjectives if you grow it.

About a year and a half ago I wrote about Blue Fortune strictly based on my experience at other gardens. We planted several at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens and as anticipated they sent up spikes of lavender blue flowers from late spring until frost, bringing in bees and butterflies like few other plants. They had no trouble reaching 36 inches in height creating excitement in garden by virtue of their spiky texture.

Then in early summer we added Black Adder agastache into the daylily garden and it too bloomed until frost knocked it down. Today the daylily garden is simply amazing. Both Blue Fortune and Black Adder are hybrids of the U.S. native Agastache foeniculum and Korean Agastache rugosa. This cross has given us perennials of participation.

You will want to visit them often, even get a chair and stake out a position to watch and enjoy. The pollinator activity will amaze you, and for those of you who consider yourself to be a culinary artist these are plants that will thrill with flavor.

These are also plants that can become addicting, so this year we added two more selections to our gardens and already they are living up to expectations. One is Blue Boa that won the “Too Good to Be True Award” at Colorado State University perennial trials. It was also a winner in North Carolina State University. Blue Boa is an unknown cross but absolutely stunning with deep violet blue flowers and dark green foliage. The larger flowers also attract hummingbirds and have a tantalizing fragrance. It is expected to be taller topping out close to 4 feet.

The last one we planted is Agastache Violet Vision. This one is a unique cross with the Korean, A. rugosa and A. cusickii that is native to the western United States. It won best of Penn State Trials and features lush violet flowers on a more compact plant all the while serving as a magnet for bees and butterflies.

In addition to those partnered with daylilies, we have the other combined with golden milkweeds, lantanas, mistflowers and salvias. In other words if there is a bee or butterfly within a mile we want them making a home at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. Then we want you to visit with your camera.

To grow yours, select a site in full sun for best blooming and to keep the plants compact and better branched. The soil should be fertile and well drained. Wet feet will spell doom for the anise hyssop during the winter, so incorporate organic matter to loosen the soil or plant on raised beds. You will want to space plants 18 to 24 inches apart.

Though the plant is drought tolerant, watering during prolonged dry periods will pay dividends with added flower production. If you have an established clump feed with spring growth using a light application of a slow-release, fertilizer. Another application in mid-summer will keep the plants at peak for the fall.

All of the agastaches respond well to any cutting back, so feel free to do so if the plants begin to look a little leggy or you simply wish they were bushier. It’s funny the branches I cut or prune always go unnoticed by others. In other words, the plant still looks great.

These anise hyssops or hummingbird mints are a great choice for cottage gardens, herb gardens and the butterfly garden or backyard wildlife habitat. Despite the fact these are such persevering beautiful perennials they are still not the staple they need to be at garden centers. This year however has been much better and well worth the search. Follow me on Twitter @CGBGgardenguru.

Norman Winter is the director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

Agastache ‘Black Adder’ (Giant hyssop ‘Black Adder’)

Botanical name

Agastache ‘Black Adder’

Other names

Giant hyssop ‘Black Adder’, Anise hyssop ‘Black Adder’, Hummingbird mint ‘Black Adder’


Agastache Agastache

Variety or Cultivar

‘Black Adder’ _ ‘Black Adder’ is a bushy, clump-forming perennial with veined, glossy, lance-shaped, mid- to dark green, aromatic leaves and dense spikes of violet-blue and dark purple flowers from midsummer into autumn.




Aromatic leaves


Bushy, Clump-forming, Upright

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Violet, Dark-purple, Blue in Summer; Violet, Dark-purple, Blue in Autumn

Dark-green in Spring; Dark-green in Summer; Dark-green in Autumn

How to care

Watch out for

Specific diseases

Crown rot , Leaf spot , Powdery mildew , Rust

General care


Cut back the faded flower-stems in autumn or leave for winter interest and cut back in spring. In colder areas, leave leaf and flower stems for winter protection and cut back in late winter or early spring.


A sterile cultivar so will not set viable seed.

Propagation methods

Division, Semi-ripe cuttings

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Where to grow

Agastache ‘Black Adder’ (Giant hyssop ‘Black Adder’) will reach a height of 0.75m and a spread of 0.5m after 1-2 years.

Suggested uses

Beds and borders, City, Cottage/Informal, Garden edging, Gravel, Ground Cover


Plant in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. Prefers alkaline soil but will tolerate poor, acid conditions.

Soil type

Chalky, Loamy, Sandy

Soil drainage

Moist but well-drained, Well-drained

Soil pH

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral


Full Sun


South, West


Exposed, Sheltered

UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.

Hardy (H4), Tender in frost (H3)

USDA zones

Zone 9, Zone 8, Zone 7, Zone 6

Defra’s Risk register #1

Plant name

Agastache ‘Black Adder’ (Giant hyssop ‘Black Adder’)

Common pest name

tomato thrips

Scientific pest name

Ceratothripoides brunneus



Current status in UK


Likelihood to spread to UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

Impact (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

General biosecurity comments

Thrips present in Africa; the Caribbean and parts of Asia; frequently intercepted in the UK. Can cause significant damage to tomatoes and other crops in countries where it is present. Europe wide PRA will consider its potential to establish and cause damage.

About this section

Our plants are under greater threat than ever before. There is increasing movement of plants and other material traded from an increasing variety of sources. This increases the chances of exotic pests arriving with imported goods and travellers, as well as by natural means. Shoot is working with Defra to help members to do their part in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive risks.

Traveling or importing plants? Please read “Don’t risk it” advice here

Suspected outbreak?

Date updated: 7th March 2019 For more information visit:

AGASTACHE ‘BlackAdder’ (Giant Hyssop, Bubble Mint)

North America

The blue-green foliage of this aromatic plant is aniseed-scented. From June to first frosts its BLUE-BLACK spires are covered with LAVENDER BLUE flowers. In well-drained soil the Giant Hyssop will grow to over a metre in sun or part shade.

Bees’ favourite.

The small tubular flowers of Agastache ‘BlackAdder’ are much visited by honeybees & bumblebees. This plant appears on the internet in its own youtube video, looking fabulous in an apparently shady location. Also recommended for growing in containers.

The City Planter, the magazine for urban gardeners, rated this one of summer’s best bee plants:

‘Agastache ‘BlackAdder’ – a great all-rounder which attracts many insects’

…”the honeybee population in London has doubled in the last four years and we now have about 5000 colonies in the Greater London area – by contrast, New York has only 600 colonies. This is despite the fact that the vegetated areas of urban back gardens, which cover 24% of the City, have declined, with almost 70% of those garden spaces now made up of hard surfaces such as decking or pavement or short cut grass. Only 11% of private back gardens have flowering plants and shrubbery which may be useful to pollinators.”

July 8 2013

The London Beekeepers Association ( has their own list of recommended pollinator plants. Agastache ‘Black Adder’, they say, is especially good for honeybees:

“Giant Hyssop ‘BlackAdder’: Recent research shows this plant is the favoured source of nectar for Honey Bees. The plant produces an abundance of sweet nectar which bees make a bee-line for once discovered by the hive.”

Agastache ‘Blackadder’ at Kew Gardens, Aug 2016

This photo by writer and blogger Elizabeth Hawksley was taken on an August visit to Kew Gardens. Aga ‘BlackAdder’ has been given a fine expanse to itself, & Elizabeth can attest that bees have found the spires.

“Broad Walk: the bees love this“

“I love the way that the planting has plainly been designed with bees in mind – there is a constant buzzing around the flowers – and butterflies dance around.”

Elizabeth, a friend and gardener, shares her eclectic tastes in her blog. Subjects covered have included the Secondhand Bookshop Boat on the Regents Canal, The Importance of Left Handed Mugs, & the Kings Cross Development Site – The Skip Garden & restored gasometers.

In 2015 we ordered two Giant Hyssop plants from the Specialperennials website ( One we grew here in Highbury soil, while friend Mimi trialled the other in a container on her balcony in Shepherdess Walk. Our plant, on a south-facing slope, got full sun for six hours a day. A cage was built round the plant with sticks & string after possible squirrel damage. Nipping off spent blooms made our Aga Blackadder bushier, covered with flower stubs rather than spires.

Honeybees Discover Highbury’s Agastache ‘BlackAdder’

There is a hive of honeybees in nearby Plimsoll Road. When our first Aga BlackAdder stub came into bloom, a honeybee must have found it, buzzed back to the hive & waggled the news to the others. The photo (left) shows the first bees crowding onto the stub.

Honeybees & bumblebees visited the Aga BlackAdder until 2015’s first frosts. Snails nibbled away at its lower leaves; birds or frogs who ate them could surely taste the licorice. The flowers bloomed till November in that mild London autumn.

Agastache ‘Black Adder’ Blooms on Shepherdess Walk

Mimi’s balcony faces east, where it gets morning sun. Her Giant Hyssop had to contend with its new provider going away on holiday, & relying on a neighbour to water it. Even in these conditions, it too was a success. ‘It brought bees for the first time in years – which is terrific!’ said Mimi. Her photos (below) are from mid-September, after the plant had had its best blooming moments.

We can both recommend the Aga BlackAdder to you. We have each had success, with local bees buzzing to our blooming beauties.

Spring 2016: No sign of Aga BlackAdder growth on Shepherdess Walk or here in Highbury, where wildlife will have eaten any seeds.

Autumn 2016: Neither of us replaced our plants this season, owing to circumstances… But there is no shortage; we see them on offer on the internet. Roll on 2017.
On this North American website, the Agastache BlackAdder page has 34 positive reader reviews and 4 that are neutral (each referring to its prolific self-seeding). Readers say that their plants return in spring after winters of snow and ice. Our wet British winters are different, and the Giant Hyssop does not like to stand in waterlogged soil.

Dave recommends putting a paper bag over the spent spires, so the seeds when dry have a place to fall. Some of his readers have let their plants self-seed, leading to ‘groves’ of Agastache BlackAdder.

Here is one review:

On Nov 29, 2006, Rotegard from Minneapolis, MN wrote:

“Our anise hyssop patch is 2 years + in the Minneapolis LaSalle Community garden and very hardy here in zone 4. The flowers and leaves have a black licorice odor that is unrivaled for bees and butterflies. In 2005 we harvested much of the foliage for a fine melissa/agastache tea served at the Barebones Halloween festival. Mixed with chocolate mint it is the basis for a pungent licorice cordial.”

Read more:

This Agastache BlackAdder was ordered from Coblands and delivered to the front door by courier. It spent a successful season in the garden and brought in many pollinators.

Agastache is a plant that boasts many assets. Its appeal lies in its foliage, flowers and therapeutic properties.

Main Agastache facts

Name – Agastache
Family – Lamiaceae
Type – perennial

Height – 12 to 48 inches (30 to 120 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – light, well-drained

Blooming – May to October

Let’s take a look at how to grow Agastache and get to rediscover this plant.

Planting agastache

How to plant agastache

You can plant agastache starting in October and all the way to May-June, keeping a distance of 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) between plants.

  • Agastache likes full sun but it also tolerates part sun.
  • It appreciates well drained soil, even poor.
  • Being planted in the sun is where agastache is at its best in terms of flavor.

How to sow agastache

If sowing from seed, sow agastache during the month of March in a sheltered place.

  • In any case, select a full sun location.
  • Once it has set root and has settled in properly, agastache will go to seed and re-seed itself and will ultimately form a nice flowery cover along the ground.

Propagating agastache

You can propagate agastache in spring or fall through crown division.

Watering agastache

This plant copes well with having a lot of sun, but must be watered in case of elevated temperatures.

If growing it in pots, don’t wait for the soil to be completely dry before watering again; simply water often but in moderate amounts.

Harvesting agastache

Agastache is best collected in the morning during the vegetation phase, from spring up to the end of summer, but it is still fine when collected at other times of the year.

  • Wait for the plant to have grown quite a bunch of leaves before harvesting for the first time.
  • Dried agastache leaves keep very well, they can last several months.

Note that when you crumple agastache flowers and leaves, they produce a soft mint-like fragrance with a touch of aniseed. It is very pleasurable.

All there is to know about agastache

Agastache is part of the Lamiaceae family, as is sage. Both plants are thus well known both for their medicinal properties and for their taste: leaves of both are used in culinary preparations as a spice herb.

Types of recipes it is used in include desserts, jams, sauces and more, thanks to its licorice, aniseed-like taste.

Although Agastache is the scientific name, more common appellations are hummingbird mint and giant hyssops. It is a relative of mint, but has nothing to do with hyssops.

Two varieties, Agastache foeniculum and Agastache rugosa, are used to prepare tea that helps stimulate digestion and counters vomiting and diarrhea. Dried leaves and flowers are the best parts of the plant for this.

Also very ornamental and simply of a high value as a spice, this plant is also used simply to decorate the garden and cook delicious flavorful meals. Use young leaves in salad or prepare tea and infusions from them.

An extremely melliferous plant, agastache will grow well in a flower bed or along edges, in a rocky pile or a sand patch, and it’ll even fit right into a garden box on your balcony or terrace. You’ll be attracting butterflies and other beautiful insects – or hummingbirds! – in no time.

Smart tip about agastache

Flower your beds with plants of all colors, shapes and sizes!

The many Agastache varieties will help and in time, just as for the iris flower, a new hybrid might even appear!

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Hummingbird on Agastache by USFWS Mountain-Prairie under © CC BY 2.0
Blue Agastache by Dan Mullen under © CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Agastache with bee by Debbie under © CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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