Anise Hyssop: Care, Growing Guide, & Facts
Anise Hyssop Plant Description
Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is neither anise (Pimpinella anisum) nor hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), despite its common name. Nonetheless, it belongs to the mint family, just like hyssop (Lamiaceae).
Anise Hyssop leaves have a mild anise fragrance, while the chemical annethole, which is present in real anise or licorice, is not found in large concentrations in Anise Hyssop. Anise Hyssop leaves, on the other hand, have a perfume that is more akin to basil or French tarragon.
Unscented flower spikes on erect stalks with dull green leaves are often blue-lavender to purple, depending on the cultivar. Each leaf is 4 inches long and has serrated edges like common mint. This clump-forming perennial is endemic to sections of the Midwest and Great Plains.
It is also found from Wisconsin to Ontario, west to British Columbia, and south to Colorado. It flowers profusely from mid to late summer through early October in natural grasslands, dry upland wooded regions, plains, and fields, attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Cut flowers and large plants benefit from their long bloom duration. It grows up to 2 to 4 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide.
How To Care Anise Hyssop?
Just after the final frost, plant Anise Hyssop in the spring. Plant seedlings at any time between now and early summer.
In boundaries, wildflower gardens, herb gardens, butterfly gardens, or as specimens in pots, spaced 18 to 24 inches apart. These plants, which grow 2 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide, look great in the middle or rear of perennial borders.
Combine with Japanese anemones, biennial brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba), goldenrods such as Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks,’ or herbs such as garlic, chives, oregano, and thyme.
How To Grow Anise Hyssop?
Anise hyssop thrives in direct sunlight. It can thrive in partial shade, but without adequate sunshine, it will become lanky.
Provide healthy, well-drained sand, loam, chalk, or clay for your plants. Avoid using heavy clay since it might cause drainage issues, which can lead to root rot. Maintain a pH of about neutral, and add lime to acidic soils.
It’s preferable if the soil is dry to moderately wet; established plants can typically handle dry conditions. The ability to survive the winter is contingent on the soil draining effectively and being generally dry.
If there is no rain for the first four weeks, water the newly planted Anise Hyssop regularly. Slowly and deeply water the plants to encourage deep, spreading roots.
Stop watering them after the plants have established themselves. They are incredibly easy to cultivate and care for since they are drought tolerant.
Once a year, offer each plant a shovelful of compost in early spring. Maintain a couple of inches between the compost and the main stem as you sprinkle around the base.
Anise Hyssop Uses
Anise Hyssop is a versatile, fragrant, culinary, and therapeutic plant with a long history of medical usage by Native Americans. It has several use in both the yard and the cuisine. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are drawn to the nectar of the blooms.
Birds, on the other hand, devour any seeds remaining on the stalks as the season progresses. Both the blossoms and the foliage have a strong licorice aroma and flavour.
Aromatic leaves can be crumbled in salads, used to create jellies, steeped in herbal tea to treat depression like the Cheyenne tribe, or used in potpourri.
Seeds can be sprinkled in cookie, muffin, or biscotti batters; dried leaves can be substituted for seeds for a similar licorice flavour.
Fresh flowers are a fun way to spice up a bouquet. To use in dried floral arrangements, hang these blossoming spikes inverted or let them dry naturally on the plant.
Varieties of Anise Hyssop
Agastache is a genus that includes 30 distinct plants with a wide range of flower colours, heights, leaves, scent, and hardiness. Novel hybrid types have bloom hues ranging from pink to creamy white, powder blue to red-violet.
The foliage varies in colour from dark green to lime green. Here are a few of the most common types:
1. The hybrid ‘Alabaster’ has creamy-white blooms. The foliage of this hybrid has a brighter green than that of most other hybrids. The plants are around 3 feet tall and not as bushy as other anise hyssop varieties.
2. Dark buds and red-violet blooms characterise ‘Black Adder.’ It grows at a slower and less robust rate than other species.
3. A tall hybrid of A. foeniculum and Agastache ‘Desert Sunrise,’ ‘Blue Blazes’ is a tall hybrid of A. foeniculum and Agastache ‘Desert Sunrise.’ This hybrid features pinkish calyxes and lavender purple flowers that seem to shine in the sunlight and is hardy to USDA Zone 5.
4. ‘Blue Fortune’ is a sterile A. foeniculum x A. rugosa hybrid. The flower spikes are particularly thick and powder blue in colour. The leaves are big and dark green in colour. Midsummer is when the flowers are at their most abundant. Flowers persist for a long time since they don’t produce seeds. Plants reach a height of 3 feet.
5. Another anise hyssop cultivar to consider is “Blue Fountain” or “Blue Spike.” The blossoms on this one are a bright blue colour.
6. The powder blue blooms of ‘Golden Jubiliee’ remain for a long time and contrast nicely with the chartreuse foliage. Even in extreme heat and humidity, this hardy plant flourishes.
7. Violet-blue blooms with reddish-purple calyxes characterise ‘Liquorice Blue.’
8. The flower spikes of ‘Purple Haze’ are smaller than those of many other anise hyssop cultivars. Spikes do not entice as many huge native bees because they are so narrow, but they may be interesting to tiny pollinators that can fit inside.
9. Pink flowers adorn ‘Red Fortune.’ There are fewer pollinators attracted to this hybrid.
10. ‘Snow Spike’ (also known as ‘Album’) has white blooms and reaches a height of 3 feet.
Anise Hyssop Pruning
Generally, once developed, anise hyssop does not require much upkeep. Deadhead any spent flowers to stimulate flowering and avoid seed heads. Trimming the plant to keep it looking its best is also a good idea.
To encourage a bushier plant, prune in the early spring, cutting back up to 1/3 of the woody material. Use sterilised pruning shears or loppers with razor-sharp edges.
Make your incisions at an angle to keep moisture away from the stem. This perennial will brown and die back during the winter in most parts of North America. Cut back the plant in late winter so that new stems may emerge more easily in the spring.
Just above a potential bud node, remove any dead plant material. Alternatively, leave the plant alone and add a little additional mulch to the root region. Start by cutting back Anise Hyssop stems to within 6 to 12 inches of the ground if they need to be revived.
Anise Hyssop Divison
Dig up and split the plant every 3 to 5 years. This will assist in keeping the centre of the plant alive and well, as well as invigorating the entire plant. In the spring, divide the crops. Take a piece of the cluster and dig it up.
Shovel a good portion of the roots out, then transplant the division at the same depth as the original. They should be 2 feet apart. Both the parent and transplanted plants need watering thoroughly.
How To Propagate Anise Hyssop?
If cultivated in optimal conditions and with adequate care, plants will spread via rhizomes and readily self-seed. Open-pollinated types are simple to start from seed.
Seeds require light to grow, so push them into the seed starting mix rather than covering them with dirt. Germination rates are aided by cold, wet stratification. In 1-4 weeks, the seeds should germinate. It’s also simple to collect seeds from the plant.
Allow the blossoms to dry on the plant before collecting the mature seeds in a bag. Division or semi-ripe stem cuttings obtained in the summer can be used to create sterile hybrids.