Agastache

One of my favorite genus of plants is Agastache, or "hyssop". I love their spicy, minty foliage, their fruity colors, the way they attract bees and hummingbirds. I love that they're quite easy to grow, that they reseed, and that deer, rabbits, and every other mammal around here won't eat them.


They're just a great plant to have in the garden, and I have quite a few of them. Unfortunately, this hasn't been a great year for the Agastaches in my yard.


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They all started out fine. The Agastache foeniculum bloomed nicely, and is still going -- although the flowers aren't looking their best right now:


This is what they looked like earlier in the year:


They've got an interesting way of blooming: the little flowers just keep forming throughout the spike, making it more dense over time. These tiny blooms are still attractive to bees, so it's a good strategy -- these plants attract bees for at least three months, if not more!

This Agastache 'Ava' is doing quite well too:


The plant is about 5' tall, and is covered with these deep rose, almost purple flowers.


As beautiful as this one is, my favorite is still the Agastache rupestris:


The flowers are mostly orange on these, but they sometimes tend toward pink:


That could be because of cross-polination between different species, but even a plant with all-orange blooms sometimes has some pink blooms on it too, or the orange fades to pink. It's really nice.

What's nicer than the flowers is the foliage though: it smells sweet and spicy, kind of like root beer. It may be my favorite plant smell in the garden.

As nice as the rupestris looks this year, it's looked better in past years, with many more blooms:


That's from a couple of years ago. What a sight -- look at all of the color! Those spikes are packed with flowers! It could be that the heat wave we had a few weeks ago took its toll on these plants, and they'll start producing more flowers now that it's cooled off a bit. I hope so. (Checking back over my old photos, I see that they'll be blooming right up until the first frost, so plenty of time left to make a comeback.)

One Agastache that is really disappointing this year is what I believe is Agastache astromontana:


This one may not be getting enough sunlight, but the flowers are a disappointment. They're usually small, but there are so few of them this year.


Here's what the plant looked like a few years ago:


Like with the rupestris, there were a lot more flowers then.

It could be that the plant hasn't come "true" from seed, and that the current generation just doesn't have the showiness of the original generation. It could be not enough sun. Maybe too much fertilizer. Or not enough. Whatever the reason, it's almost not worth growing these. Almost. I'll move the pot into a sunnier area to see if the plant responds with more flowers for the rest of the season. The foliage still smells good though.




Even though this isn't a record-breaking year for the Agastache blooms, I'm going to keep on growing them. I'll probably plant more next year too -- on purpose I mean, because there will be seedlings popping up too.

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