January 17, 2018

Hummingbird Mint: Agastache 'Ava'

Three Agastache 'Ava' (aka hummingbird mint or hyssop) plants live in my main sunny backyard bed next to Russian sage (Peroskvia), Lilium rubrum and a 'Royal Purple' smoke bush (Cotinus).  These plants add beautiful color to my late summer and fall garden, when flowers are fewer.

I haven't caught a good photo of the hummingbirds visiting my hummingbird mint plants, but they came every day.  Sometimes several times.  They also visited the butterfly bushes, Russian sage and catmint, but Agastache 'Ava' was always their first stop.

Ava emerges in spring as a low mound of grey-green leaves (top center above) and grows to a mature size of 2 feet wide and 4-5 feet tall.  Our growing season is short and my plants are only 2 years old, so they're still maturing.  Ava's square stems and aromatic leaves mark it as a member of the mint family.  It grows in zones 5-10, unlike many agastaches that are less hardy, and Ava is touted as being resistant to deer and rabbits.

Long lasting colored calyxes (the darker pink part at the base of the flowers above) are what make Ava really special among agastaches.  Even after the lighter pink flowers drop, the calyxes remain colorful until hard frost.

In the photo above, the Russian sage has finished blooming and peony leaves are starting to turn yellow for fall while Ava still shows color at top right.  From August through October, Ava's lavender-pink flowers were a welcome presence in my garden.

Ava grows best in lean soil, low water and full sun.  My plants get a little floppy because they get too much water and the soil is too rich, so I set plant hoops around the base to hold them up.  Ava will rot and die in waterlogged soil, but my plants are fine in the well-drained soil of a mounded bed.

Ava is available from several online sources.  I ordered mine from High Country Gardens and was pleased with the baby plants that arrived in good condition.  If you're looking for a tall, sturdy, low maintenance plant to add interest to your end-of-season garden, Ava is a great choice.

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