There are some perennials that simply scream, “Plant me in your garden! You’ll love me!”
Hyssop (Agastache ssp.) is one of those plants.
Why is this drought-tolerant stalwart a must-have perennial? For all kinds of reasons.
It attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators. At 5:40 last evening, I spotted Brian, my resident hummingbird, chowing down on nectar from my sunset hyssop. Brian visits several times a day. A couple of days ago, Brian even brought a friend with him. I have two clusters of three hyssops in my back yard. If you add orange carpet hummingbird (Zauschneria garrettii) ground cover to the mix, you may entice even more hummingbirds.
It adds vibrant color to your garden for at least two months. Hyssop delivers not only purple, orange and pink blossoms, but blue ones, as well. My favorites are sunset hyssop (Agastache rupestris) and Sonoran sunset hyssop (Agastache cana ‘Sinning’ Sonoran Sunset). They begin blooming around mid-July and keep supplying flowers until frost.
It provides dramatic sprays that act as a backdrop to lower-growing plants in the garden. In my garden, both the sunset and Sonoran sunset hyssops grow about 42 inches tall.
It’s a long-lasting cut flower. I never thought hyssop would be a viable cut flower because the blooms look so delicate. But I tried it as a background for zinnias and coneflowers in a simple arrangement, and the hyssop lasted nicely for four or five days. I typically add half a teaspoon of sugar to the vase water to help flowers stay fresh longer.
It provides fragrance. As a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, hyssop imparts a pleasant, minty aroma.
It offers food and drink for people. You can add sunset hyssop’s edible blooms to salads and fruit dishes, or mix it with cream cheese or butter to make a tasty spread, according to medical herbalist Tammi Hartung in her blog, Desert Canyon Farm Green Thoughts. You can also use the blossoms to make herbal tea.
The only downside to hyssop is that it’s not a long-lived perennial. I lost two of them after three years. But the other seven that I planted at the same time are still blooming reliably. So I’ll simply replace these lovelies as needed.