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On Gardening: Little Adder, a great new compact hummingbird mint

June 6, 2016

Hummingbird mints like the compact Little Adder bring in pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Hummingbird mints, also called anise hyssops, are among my favorite perennials. In fact they are must have plants in my garden for their non-stop blooming ability and a penchant for bringing in pollinators like few other plants. So when Little Adder made its debut as a compact powerhouse version I was eager to give it a try.

Hummingbird mints like Blue Fortune, Blue Boa and Black Adder can easily reach 36 inches and maybe more. The thought of an 18-inch tall version was most appealing as I was already mentally combining it with Bandana Cherry Sunrise lantana, or yellow blooming asclepias. If it did what I was hoping it would make the ultimate partner with Golden Lace Patrinia and Little Red Joe Pye Weed. But would it bloom and would it bring in pollinators like its larger cousins.

The answers to all of my questions, yes and superbly yes. The plants stay compact, but they get wider, and somehow they magically keep on producing spikes of blue violet flowers. Some catalogs feature photos with an almost purple bloom but mine are showing more-blue with touches of lavender. The bees were hitting on it as the first blooms began to open.

Both Blue Fortune and Black Adder are hybrids of the U.S. native Agastache foeniculum and Korean Agastache rugosa. Little Adder is different in that it is straight Agastache rugosa. It is recommended from zones 3A to 8B which means a huge region of the country can garner the green thumb with this plant all the while relishing in the fact that they are planting one of the best plants in the market for pollinators. You will notice that despite their diminutive nature they still bring in bees butterflies and hummingbirds. 

Much of my region is overrun by marauding deer laying waste to almost any flower in their path. You will be happy to know that hummingbird mints like Little Adder are not on the menu. To grow yours select a site in full sun for best blooming and to keep the plants better branched. The soil should be fertile and well drained. Wet feet will spell doom for the anise hyssop during the winter, so incorporate organic matter to loosen the soil or plant on raised beds.  You will want to space plants 20 to 24 inches apart.

Though the plant is drought tolerant, watering during prolonged dry periods will pay dividends with added flower production. If you have an established clump, feed with spring growth using a light application of a slow-release fertilizer. Another application in mid-summer will keep the plants at peak for the fall.

All of the agastaches or hummingbird mints respond well to any cutting back, so feel free to do so if the plants begin to look a little leggy or you simply wish they were bushier. Little Adder seems to appreciate a little deadheading every now and then.

The long hot summer lies ahead and there are very few plants that will bloom all summer until frost in the fall; compact Little Adder is one that will giving you great value for your garden dollar. Oh yes and it will return next year too!

 

 


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