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Sunset Hyssop - A Natural Hummingbird Attractant

Agastache rupestris

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Sunset Hyssop - A Natural Hummingbird Attractant

Sunset Hyssop at Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District's Demonstration Garden

Photo © Vanessa Richins

Overview of Sunset Hyssop:

Sunset hyssop is a surefire way to attract hummingbirds to your garden. The vibrant pink, purple and orange blossoms definitely catch your eye, adding pizazz to any yard. It is able to grow in many zones and soil conditions.

Latin Name:

Agastache rupestris is the scientific name. It is in the Lamiaceae (mint) family

Common names:

Names for this plant include sunset hyssop, threadleaf giant hyssop, rock anise, hummingbird mint and licorice mint.

USDA Hardiness Zones:

Zones 4b-9 are suggested for this species.

Size & Shape:

At maturity, each vase shaped sunset hyssop subshrub will measure 2 feet high and 1-1.5 feet wide.

Exposure:

Plant in a sunny location. It can tolerate part shade if needed.

Foliage/Flowers:

The leaves are fine-textured with a gray-green color. In the summertime, sunset hyssop is covered in trumpet-shaped flowers, each with shades of orange, pink and purple.

Design Tips:

This is a must for any hummingbird garden. Good companions include butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Russian sage (Perovska spp.). It is also a good choice for drought tolerant gardens.

It is sure to become one of your favorite subshrubs in the garden. For most of the summer, it is covered in brilliantly colored flowers that attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Sunset hyssop fills the air with a wonderful aroma similar to root beer or licorice

Growing Tips:

Water regularly for the first season to establish the root system. Make sure the soil is well drained, as sunset hyssop does not tolerate soil that is constantly wet. After it is established, it is very drought tolerant.

During spring, you can divide established plants and replant.

Sow seeds directly in the garden during spring after the last frost or indoors about eight weeks before then. Thin to one plant every 18". You can also take cuttings to create new plants.

You can use sunset hyssop leaves to make tea.

Maintenance/Pruning:

Cut sunset hyssop almost to the ground at the beginning of spring. This will promote stronger and more vigorous growth. Deadhead spent flowers in summer to extend blooming season.

In colder regions, mulch with pea gravel during the winter. Do not use wood mulches; these tend to keep the soil below very moist, which this plant cannot tolerate.

Pests and Diseases:

Sunset hyssop may be susceptible to mildews, rusts, and other fungi if summer conditions are hot and humid.

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