Agastache 'Astello Indigo' is just about the most exciting breakthrough in the Hummingbird Mint family yet and it's got the award to prove it - Europe's most coveted award, the Fleuroselect Gold Medal.
The Fleuroselect judges were impressed by the strong, bushy plants, showing the ideal combination of vigorous growth and compact habit.
Agastache 'Astello Indigo' bloom with fabulous, upright spikes that are fully covered with long-lasting, deep indigo-blue flowers. Compact and quick growing, they flower in the first year from seed. The plants grow 60cm (24in) tall and spread to 30cm (12in) wide, they are sturdy and upright, do not need staking and are perfect for the border or for containers.
This attractive half-hardy perennial is ideal for Northern European-type climates. Widely adapted, the plants thrive in cool or hot weather. It performed well in trials in warmer climates, but is at its best in more temperate conditions.
The long-lasting, mint-scented flower-spikes are irresistible to bees and butterflies and make a fabulous addition to borders and containers or for gravel gardens and wildlife borders. The mid-green oval leaves are highly fragrant and the masses of blooms throughout the summer are ideal for cutting.
These easy-to-grow and easy to care for plants enjoy dry soils and sunny positions. A short-lived perennial they will flower in the same year given an early sowing and can be used as an annual. Sow early in February-March under glass to flower in late summer, or sown April-June they will flower in early summer the following year.
The aromatic leaves of Agastache are edible. Young growth can be sprinkled in salads, used to decorate cakes, used to make a tea or floated in drinks. Agastache added to your Pimms lifts it to a higher sphere altogether.
Agastache is a ‘wonder honey plant’, it produces copious amounts of nectar for bees and butterflies to feast upon. It is an important crop for commercial honey production, it is estimated that just one acre of Agastache can support over 100 hives. Because of its later season and prolific flowering, it is a boon for building up bees’ honey reserves before winter and will produce a honey surplus where drifts are grown. The flowers produce nectar that makes a light, good-quality honey. In addition goldfinches and other small birds love the seeds in winter.
Sowing: Sow February to March or April-June.
Sow early in February-March under glass to flower September-October, or sow April-June to flower June-September the following year. Seed can also be sown directly in the ground in spring.
Sow under cover; sow in warmth to germinate; prick out and harden off in late spring. Or sow direct in autumn when soil is warm. Protect seedlings throughout winter. Likes rich moist soil and full sun.
Sow the seeds into cells or pots containing good quality seed compost. Sow finely onto the surface and press lightly into the compost, but do not cover, as light aids germination of seeds. Place in a propagator or cover with a plastic lid and place in a warm place, ideally at 18 to 20°C (65 to 68°F).
Water from the base of the tray, keeping the compost moist but not wet at all times. Germination 14 to 28 days. Once some of the seeds have germinated air should be admitted gradually otherwise the seedlings may suffer damping off.
Once the seedlings have their first pair of true leaves (they come after the seedlings first pair of leaves) and are large enough to handle, Prick out each seedling into 7.5cm (3in) pots to grow on.
Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost has passed into well drained soil. Plant 30cm (12in) apart.
To prepare ordinary garden soil for planting, add 5cm (2in) of gravel and 10cm (4in) of compost. Mix in well down to 30cm (12in). Dress plants with gravel to keep water away from crown to prevent rot.
Agastache prefers free-draining soil but tolerates almost any soil and will cope with dry, poor soils very well. They can be grown in full sun but will take some shade if dry. As is typical of many aromatic perennial herbs, a 'tough love' approach works best—full sun and not too much water or fertiliser. In fact, most plants will need little, if any, supplemental irrigation. In dry climates, a deep soaking every week or two during the summer growing season is adequate.
The sturdy plants will usually not need staking, but you may need to do so if planted in rich moist soils or in exposed positions. Although agastache already boasts a very long flowering period, usually until frost, the plants will be stronger and more floriferous if you cut back flower stalks as flowers fade.
Agastache are short-lived perennials, don’t worry too much if your plant keels over after three or four years, you haven’t done anything wrong. They will self-seed where happiest, but this is usually never enough so collect the seed to ensure that you will never be without.
Remember that when different Agastache species and hybrids are planted in the same garden, they will cross-pollinate. Watch for volunteer seedlings, and weed out individual plants that don’t demonstrate desirable habit and flower colour.
A few Agastache species are not reliably hardy, especially in wet winters, but Agastache rugosa is one of the hardiest of the species, to around minus 10°C (-14°F). Take care when mulching hyssops, especially in wetter climates. In these areas, it is best to avoid mulching materials like composted leaves, lawn clippings, and bark chips since they can encourage the growth of fungal and bacterial pathogens. Pine needles are a better choice, but a few inches of crushed-gravel mulch is ideal.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds.
We do only just seem to be waking up to the herbal essences of Agastache. There are, however, around a dozen different species, some of which earn their place in the herb garden better than others. All have deliciously, spicily scented leaves as well as those lovely smoky blue or purple flowers.
Take one or two and chew them and you’ll freshen your breath with its clean, savoury flavour.
Pick young growth and sprinkle in salads, use to decorate cakes or float in drinks. Agastache added to your Pimms lifts it to a higher sphere altogether, or make a tea, the mintier ones, like A. rugosa, often have a better flavour, the crushed leaves smell strongly of mint or aniseed and are often likened to liquorice.
You can dry the leaves for potpourri and also flavour meat, specifically pork, with a uniquely piquant tang, either aniseedy or minty depending on the species you choose.
Agastache, is a genus of 9 to 12 species of perennial herbs in the family Lamiaceae, native to eastern Asia and North America. Also known as hyssop or hummingbird mint, these plants are famous for their ability to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Most species are very upright, with stiff, angular stems clothed in toothed-edged, lance shaped leaves. Upright spikes of tubular, two-lipped flowers develop at the stem tips in summer.
Pronounced ag-ah-STAK-ee, the genus name is related to the flower clusters. Agastache, from the words agan, meaning ‘very much’ (or ‘many’) and stachys, ‘an ear of corn or wheat’ referring to the shape of the flower spikes, so meaning ‘having many spikes’.
The species name hybrida simply means it is a hybrid of a number of species.
Agastache hybrida ‘Arcado Pink’ was a Fleuroselect Approved Novelty Winner in 2010. Agastache ‘Astello Indigo’, a strong and even more compact variety and a worthy winner of the Fleuroselect Gold Medal. Agastache ‘Asturo White’ feature spires of scented white flowers with fresh lime green spikes, this received the third award, yet another Fleuroselect Approved Novelty Winner.
Fleuroselect is the international organisation for the ornamental plants industry. Its main activities include the testing, protecting and promoting of new flower varieties. Membership includes breeders, producers and distributors of ornamental varieties. Fleuroselect is run by the members, for the members. A small secretariat operates from the organisational headquarters currently based in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.
In order to support and stimulate the development of new ornamental varieties, Fleuroselect conducts trials of new varieties entered by members on approximately 20 private trial grounds spread across Europe. Both indoor and outdoor trials can be conducted. Through the trials, the newness, the practical use, the quality and the exclusivity of the entries are determined. Genuinely new varieties receive recognition either as Fleuroselect Novelties or Gold Medal winners. The Fleuroselect Gold Medal is awarded to innovative varieties that clearly surpass the limits in breeding and beauty. This symbolises excellence in breeding.
Many awarded varieties are widely supported and distributed by Fleuroselect members. The organisation also promotes the winners by way of press releases and displays at trade fairs and in gardens all over the world. Professional growers and hobby gardeners all over the world recognise the Fleuroselect awards as certificates of exceptional merit.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 25 Seeds Family Lamiaceae Genus Agastache Species Agastache hybrida Cultivar Astello Indigo Hardiness Half Hardy Perenials Flowers Deep indigo-blue flower spikes Natural Flower Time July to September Foliage Fragrant mid-green oval leaves Height 60cm (24in) Spread 30cm (12in) Position Full sun for best flowering Soil Reasonably fertile, moisture retentive but well drained soil