FAMILY: Lamiaceae

  • Perennials
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
  • Moderate Water

Plant Details

Summer-blooming perennials with aromatic foliage and whorls of pink, purple, blue, red, or orange flowers in spikelike clusters. All rebloom if deadheaded. Drought tolerant. Favorites with hummingbirds and butterflies. Species from Mexico and the Southwest need excellent drainage, especially in wet-winter areas.

A. aurantiaca. ORANGE HUMMINGBIRD MINT. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Native to northern Mexico. To 2 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide; pink flowers fade to orange. Can be grown as an annual. 'Apricot Sprite' grows 112 ft. tall. 'Coronado' has yellow blooms suffused with orange.

A. barberi. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. From Arizona, New Mexico. To 2 ft. tall and wide, with reddish purple flowers.

A. breviflora. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. From Arizona, New Mexico, northern Mexico. To 2 ft. tall, 1 ft. across; purplish red blossoms.

A. cana. TEXAS HUMMINGBIRD MINT. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. Native to Texas, New Mexico. To 23 ft. tall, 1 ft. across. Blooms heavily, bearing reddish pink flowers that smell like bubble gum. A seed-grown selection, 'Heather Queen', blooms the first year if sown early. 'Purple Pygmy' is compact, just 16 in. tall.

A. foeniculum. ANISE HYSSOP. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. From north-central North America. Erect, narrow plant to 34 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide, with dense clusters of lilac-blue flowers. Its anise- or licorice-scented leaves make a pleasant tea. Useful and attractive in perennial borders and herb gardens. More tolerant of winter cold and wet than other species. 'Get Riehl' is a hardy selection from the prairie.

A. hybrids. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. The following are among the many fine hybrids sold.

'Apricot Sprite'. Grows 23 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide. Tubular coral flowers set against rose-pink buds.

'Apricot Sunrise'. To 23 ft. tall, 23 ft. wide. Deep orange flowers fade to apricot on opening.

'Black Adder'. Grows 23 ft. tall and 12 ft. wide. Red violet flowers may appear black to some.

'Blue Boa'. Grows 23 ft. tall and 1 ft. wide. Blue-violet spikes are remarkably showy.

'Blue Fortune'. To 3 ft. tall, 1 ft. wide, with powder-blue flower spikes.

'Cotton Candy'. Grows 2 ft. tall and wide, with densely clad spikes of light pink flowers.

'Desert Sunrise'. Tallest of all. Grows to 4 ft. with flowers orange, pink, and lavender.

'Firebird'. To 12 ft. tall, 1 ft. wide; coppery orange, coral-pink, and red blooms.

'Pink Pop'. 11 ft. tall and about 1 ft. wide. Pink flowers bloom over silver-green leaves.

'Raspberry Summer'. Grows to 2 ft. tall and 12 ft. wide with large spikes of dark pink flowers.

'Summer Breeze'. To 3 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide. Large, lavender-pink flowers; dark gray-green leaves.

'Summer Glow'. Grows to 22 ft. tall and 112 ft. wide with pale yellow flowers.

'Tangerine Dreams'. Forms a compact, 1- to 2-ft.-wide clump; orange flowers, larger and deeper in color than those of 'Apricot Sunrise', top 2- to 3-ft. stems.

'Tutti Frutti'. To 34 ft. tall, 12 ft. wide, with purplish red blooms set off nicely by gray-green foliage.

A. mexicana. GIANT MEXICAN LEMON HYSSOP. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Rangy Mexican native to 23 ft. (possibly to 5 ft.) tall and 1 ft. wide. Bears masses of pink flowers, starting in spring and continuing until late fall. Lemon-scented leaves can be used in tea and as a flavoring. Plants in the Acapulco series bear flowers in salmon-pink, rose-pink, and orange. 'Red Fortune' has red flowers; those of 'Sangria' are reddish purple.

A. rugosa. KOREAN HUMMINGBIRD MINT. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Korea. To 5 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide. Licorice-scented foliage is glossy green with a purple tinge. Flowers are purplish blue. Like A.foeniculum, tolerates wet winters. 'Honey Bee Blue' and 'Honey Bee White' are compact growers 2212 ft. high. 'Golden Jubilee' grows 13 ft. tall and wide with lime-green foliage and violet blooms. The species and its selections will bloom the first year from seed sown early.

A. rupestris. LICORICE MINT, SUNSET HYSSOP. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. From southern Arizona, northern Mexico. To 12 ft. tall and 1 ft. wide, with threadlike, gray-green leaves and spikes of orange flowers with lavender calyxes. Exceptionally fragrant foliage, with a scent that reminds some of licorice, others of root beer. Outstanding garden performance. Most enduring of these perennials.

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