Hyssop

Agastache coccinea x mexicana x rupestris 'Pink Panther'

Pink Panther Hyssop or Hummingbird Mint


"Outside the village, by the public road,
I know a dried-up fountain, overgrown
With herbs, the haunt of legendary toad."

-Robert Leighton
(1822-1869)

   

I hope I've identified the multiple species origin of this hybrid hyssop correctly. It may have an even more complex hybrid history than I was able to sort out, but I'm fairly certain Agastache coccinea x mexicana x rupestris is right. The distributors prefer not to identify it by species at all, & offer it only as A. hybridis 'Pink Panther.'

Richard F. DuFresne developed the popular hyssop hybrids 'Tutti Frutti' (which gets its hardiness from A. barberi), & two that we have in our garden, 'Apricot Sunrise' & the one shown here, 'Pink Panther.' DuFresne, of North Carolina, has been striving to increase hyssops' cold hardiness in a widening color range.

Nearly all the cold-hardiest hybrids have one or the other of A. barberi, A. cana or A. rupestris in their heritage, & for 'Pink Panther' the hardiness is from A. rupestris, which grows at higher elevations than most hyssops (in the Rocky Mountains), extending the zone range of what are otherwise desert or subtropical hyssop species from Mexico or the American Southwest. Though the most remarkably floral hyssops tend to be mainly warm-climate plants, DuFresne's hybrids adapt well to our Puget Sound weather, just so long as they get full sun & maximally well-draining soil.

'Pink Panther's' dark green foliage stands very upright, to as much as 30 inches high. It spreads slowly into a two foot wide clump. It likes to be watered at long intervals during a really dry summer; otherwise this low-maintance relative of the sages asks for no attention & thrives in a droughty sun garden. We've planted both 'Pink Panther' & 'Apricot Sunrise' on the street margin in a low-maintenance sun garden.

This hybrid hyssop is among the longest-blooming of perennials. The small rosy flowers are numerous along the tall spikes. In the Northwest, 'Pink Panther' begins to bloom by May, & is still blooming heavily in Autumn after a series of morning frosts, being as it is hardy down to the 10 to 20 degree F. 'Pink Panther' was still covered with blossoms in November, though 'Apricot Sunrise' was showing clear signs of the blossoms not liking the frost in October.

   



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