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  • Waterwise Gardening | David Salman

Hummingbird Mints - Outstanding Perennials for the Santa Fe Garden

This genus of native plants has held my full attention for more than 20 years. During that time, I have enjoyed growing, breeding and selecting new cultivars here in my Santa Fe, NM gardens. No doubt, my intense interest in these perennials has been helped by the fact that they are very successfully grown in this high desert climate. (This is because many of the native Agastache species are found in my neck of the woods; the Southwestern US and northern Mexico.)

Varieties for 2017

Agastache 'Blue Boa' (Blue Boa Hyssop) Here is a stunning new hybrid variety that blooms for several months from mid- to late summer with showy spikes of deep violet-blue flowers. This perennial is a stiffly upright grower with large green leaves that grows best in fast draining soil and average moisture levels; it's not a xeric species. Leave the stems in place over the winter months to improve cold hardiness. Seedling will not be true-to-type and should be weeded out.

Agastache foeniculum (Blue Hyssop) Native to the northern tier states of the US and Canada, this exceptionally cold hardy Hyssop blooms for many months with smoky-blue to mid-blue flowers held above attractive, aromatic foliage. An outstanding perennial for attracting bees and butterflies with its nectar-rich flowers, is a highly recommended perennial for gardeners in the moister eastern half of the country, and in the northern tier states of the West like Montana and Wyoming. This species is reliably USDA zone 4 cold hardy. Just be sure to give it adequate water in the summer as it's not as xeric as the Southwestern species.

Agastache rupestris (Licorice Mint hummingbird mint) is one of the best, most durable species in the Agastache family. With smoky orange flowers held by lavender calyxes, the entire plant is scented like licorice and mint. David Salman introduced this plant in 1996 through High Country Gardens.

Agastache cana (TX Hummingbird Mint) is a very rare wildflower with aromatic, raspberry- pink flowers that cover the plant for several months in late summer. Highly attractive to hummingbirds.

Agastache Desert Sunrise® (Hybrid Hummingbird Mint) is a hybrid native wildflower that blooms for months with tall spikes of orange and pink tubular flowers. The nectar-rich flowers are highly attractive to hummingbirds. The plant has aromatic, mint-scented foliage and flowers.

How To Plant Agastache

Just be sure to plant into fast draining, low humus ("lean") soils in full sun. Mulch with small diameter gravel to protect the crown from winter moisture and only fertilize in the fall with a low nitrogen, high trace mineral fertilizer like Yum Yum Mix. No chemical fertilizers (Miracle Gro or similar higher nitrogen formulations) as these cause the plants to grow like annuals and not be tough enough to make it through winter.

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