Blue Fortune agastache is ideal for pollinators in the garden
Norman Winter is a horticulturist. He is a former director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. Follow him on Facebook at Norman Winter “The Garden Guy”. See more of Norman’s columns at SavannahNow.com/lifestyle/home-garden/.
A feeling of euphoria gripped ‘The Garden Guy’ and I mumbled to myself that my work on Earth was done. Well, I’m kidding up to a point.
I’m testing two new agastaches that I confess to falling in love with, these are Meant to Bee Queen Nectarine and Meant to Bee Royal Raspberry. I will be writing about them in the months to come.
My moment with a euphoria lane visit however came when I went to Confirmed winners Agastache page and I’ve seen nearly a dozen selections, including the one I consider to be the ancestor, the foundation of all pollinator gardens worth their salt, and that’s Blue Fortune.
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My first attempts with Blue Fortune go back more than 15 years, when I was Extension Horticulture Specialist with Mississippi State University. Since then it has been featured in all of my pollinator or butterfly talks and I have written about it several times. But to be honest, it felt like I was speaking in some sort of paranormal vacuum.
Oh, you would have the opportunity to buy one or two very often. Pollinator geeks like me kind of have a tight circle, if you see an agastache for sale send an alert or pick it up in case you never get the chance again.
Now that the number one plant brand is obviously going the extra mile for bees, birds and butterflies with the addition of nearly a dozen varieties of agastache, the future looks bright.
As for Blue Fortune, now we will all hopefully have the option to purchase some. It won’t be like searching for the proverbial four-leaf clover anymore. Our secret groups of agastaches can dissolve.
I know there’s probably a large group, a new generation of readers if you will, who are wondering what a Blue Fortune agastache is and why would I want one?
First know that this is a perennial, cold hardy plant in zones 5 to 9. The rest of you can grow it as an annual. In addition to the name agastache, they also go by names like anise hyssop and hummingbird mint.
Blue Fortune has native DNA, Agastache foeniculum, which was crossed with one of Korea’s top underdogs, Agastache rugosa. The result is a supercharged perennial that will produce gorgeous spikes of lavender-blue flowers all season long until winter dormancy.
During this long flowering period, it will bring all kinds of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Then, to add to your dilemma, consider that birds like American Goldfinches can come and eat the seeds. They are at my house. It’s a one-stop habitat cafe with a treasure trove of food, none of which is on Bambi’s menu.
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When it comes to landscape aesthetics, the 2-foot-tall bouquet of blue fragrant flower spikes creates excitement in the garden with their texture. You may actually think there is a sound associated with the flowers as it will be the buzzing of bees.
The blue color blends well with all other colors of agastaches and other popular pollinating plants like Truffula rose gomphrena, Rockin salvias and Luscious lantanas.
The Garden Guy is doing well with Blue Fortune although I’m a little defiant of the sun. In blazing sun, flowering and performance are even better. Good drainage is essential for a spring return, as wet, swampy soil in winter will cause you problems.
Those of you who are culinary specialists will love the possibilities of using Blue Fortune Agastache or Anise Hyssop in the kitchen. Honey producers consider hyssop anise honey as one of the best. Pollinator lovers, our future looks bright, with a mega brand taking agastache to a new level.