Agastache – July Plant of the Month

Agastache is our July Plant of the Month for 2024. Also known as hummingbird mint, anise hyssop, and hyssop, agastache is a great native perennial for many areas of the garden. It is native to North America with around 17 species. A member of the Mint Family, there are 2 species commonly found in the Central Great Plains, while many other species and cultivars do very well.

I like to have a variety of agastache in my gardens, because it attracts not only hummingbirds, but many bees as well. Surprisingly, there is even a species for the shade garden. Giant cat hyssop, which has yellow flowers, likes part shade over sun. But before I get into all the species and there cultivars, lets talk about the importance of hummingbird mint.

Why Plant Agastache in the Garden?

Why not? Thanks to breeding programs like Proven Winners, there are newer cultivars of hummingbird mint, or anise hyssop. In the past, the only colors of agastache you could grow in the Central Great Plains were blue, white, and yellow. But now we have those colors plus red, orange, and multi-colored. And they bloom in the heat of summer. Hummingbird mints typically start blooming in June or July, and bloom through until first frost in October.

They are also great for a variety of pollinators. But they are best for bees, such as bumblebees and honeybees. A few butterflies will also frequent the long-blooming flowers. Being members of the Mint Family, hummingbird mints have few if any pests, and are both deer and rabbit resistant. Some of the newer varieties, such as ‘Blue Boa’ can be planted as a border plant around different areas of the garden, and should help deter deer and rabbits away from more vulnerable plants like daylilies and hostas.

pollinators of agastache

Different Species of Agastache

As I said above, there are 17 or so species of agastache in North America. But most of these are dry, desert or mountain species which we cannot grow well here in the Central Great Plains. (That does not keep us from trying though). There are 3 main species which grow quite readily in our area, and from these we get some good cultivars. Then, there are the new series from Proven Winners and other plant breeders, which also grow well.

Giant Cat Hyssop – A. nepetoides

You might be surprised to find that this species is common from the Central Great Plains to the Eastern Seaboard. Many people, even native plant enthusiasts have never heard of it. It grows primarily in the dappled shade of woodlands or in glades and meadows. I have seeded and transplanted it into various areas of my shade garden because it does bloom in the shade. The flowers are yellow, and the plant can grow 4 to 9 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide.

Blue Giant Hyssop – A. scrophulariifolia

Native to mostly the Upper Midwest region of the United States, blue giant hyssop does have some rare occurrences in the Central Great Plains. Like the giant cat hyssop, it can be found in sunny woods, glades, and meadows. It grows 3 to 6 feet tall and has whitish or light lavender colored flowers, not truly purple like its name suggests.

Anise Hyssop – A. foeniculum

Although not actually native to our region, anise or blue giant hyssop adapts well to our climate. It is native to Minnesota, South and North Dakota, and southern Canada. This is the species that is used primarily in breeding of purple flowered agastache for the nursery industry. The native species grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, much shorter than our other giant hyssops.

native hummingbird mints

Agastache Series and Cultivars

Besides the native species, there are a lot of hybridized cultivars out there, sometimes in a series, sometimes not. Besides your local garden center, you can find agastache for sale from various main-order nurseries. Some breeders, like Proven Winners, have their own Series of colors and choices. Breeders also rarely tell which species they crossed to get their cultivars, so I cannot put these cultivars down to a species level. But I will include only those which are hardy to Zone 4 to 9.

Meant to Bee Series – Proven Winners

This is the latest series of agastache available, and it is a good one. I planted 2 of each color in 2023 by plugs in my Daylily Bed and they performed very well, though not as well as the ones in the containers at the nursery with regular fertilization. But the colors are amazing. There are 2; ‘Queen Nectarine‘ which has apricot/coral colored flowers and gets 3 feet tall and wide, and ‘Royal Raspberry’ which has raspberry/wine colored flowers and grows 2.5 feet tall and wide. I would expect Proven Winners to come out with a few more colors over the next few years.

Kudos Series – Terra Nova Nurseries

The Kudos Series has taken the plant world by storm. It was introduced several years ago, and has taken off throughout the US. With 7 colors thus far, there is something for everyone to choose from. And they are nearly impervious to powdery mildew, which has been a complaint of those growing agastache in the garden (I never noticed it on my natives). The colors are as follows:

  • Ambrosia – coral pink.
  • Coral – dark pink.
  • Red (name speaks for itself)
  • Gold – cantaloupe colored
  • Mandarin – orange
  • Silver Blue – purple
  • Yellow – canary yellow

Other Cultivars

  • Blue Fortune – one of the standards until the Kudos Series arrived. It grows 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide with blue-purple flowers.
  • Blue Boa – very bushy-looking flowers, purple in color, on plants that get 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide.
  • Little Adder – has dark purple bracts behind the light purple flowers. It grows 2 feet tall by 16 inches wide.
  • Licorice Mint Hyssop – A. rupestris – I planted in my garden in 2023. It has multi-colored flowers of pink and coral. It grows 3 to 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide.
  • Red Happiness – grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide with magenta colored flowers.
  • Golden Jubilee – grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide with chartreuse yellow leaves and purple flowers.
using agastache in the garden

Companion Plants for Agastache

Since it is a member of the Mint Family, there are a lot of plants which benefit from having hummingbird mint grown nearby. They not only help deter other pests such as rabbits and deer, but they also attract native bees and bumblebees to the garden. Plant hummingbird mints alongside the following flowers in the garden.


Agastache, aka hummingbird mint, is a great perennial addition to the garden. It it hardy, drought and heat tolerant, and attracts bees and hummingbirds to the garden. And it is companionable to a wide range of perennial favorites. In short, it needs to be planted in your garden, whether you have a cottage garden, potager, or formal garden setting in the Central Great Plains.

Happy planting!

author of agastache

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