Hyssop

Agastache aurantiaca x rupestris x coccinea 'Apricot Sunrise' Hyssop


"I shall be one with nature, herb, & stone."

-Wilfred Owen,
1893-1918

   

We've planted two of North Carolina nurseryman Richard F. DuFresne's hybrid hyssops in our sun garden by the road. One is 'Pink Panther' with purplish rose-red blooms on upright branches, the other is 'Apricot Sunrise' which has a weepier stance, with many small dusty-orange blooms along each bent spike. Inside the orange petals are burgandy calyxes, but they're not visible.

Initially I'd placed 'Apricot Sunrise' at the foot of a Japanese Red Barberry, but the color of the barberry's leaves was too close to the color of the hyssop's blossoms so that the little hyssop was unable to show itself off. So before it got too well established in that spot I moved it to the foot of a 'Coral Fire' Mountain Ash further along that roadside garden, where it has no ground-level competition for the tubular orange blooms, which butterflies & hummingbirds find so appealing.

This subshrub has greyish green lance-shaped leaves on woody stems. The leaves have an extremely pleasant anise scent. This perennial clumps to 18 inches wide, & about that tall, though if the bent & weepy stems were held upright, some of the stems & spikes might well stretch up to three feet. It blooms best from June through September, though ours still blooms nicely in October, & feebly in November, then finally died back in December.

It is extremely hardy just so long as a few of its needs are met. It will not thrive in clayey soil or any soil that drains poorly. Perfect drainage is especially essential if it is to make it through winters. It will tolerate a bit of shade but prefers full sun. In the right soil & with plenty of light, it is a very easy hyssop to grow, perfect for Zone 8.

Slow-release fertilizer once a year (in spring) is sufficient. If it is placed in too rich a soil it just gets rangy. I leave the die-back on the shrub through winter with the idea that it protects the root a little bit during winter rains, but before spring growth starts anew, it needs to be cut practically to the ground.

   



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