Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a short-lived herbaceous perennial with lavender blue flowers and fragrant foliage. Other common names include blue giant hyssop, fragrant giant hyssop and lavender giant hyssop. Despite the common name, it is not closely related to hyssop (Hyssopus spp.), a European plant traditionally used as a healing herb, or anise, Pimpinella anisum, a completely different plant in the carrot family (Apiaceae). It is noted for its mid- to late summer bloom of lavender to purple flowers in terminal spikes and its anise-scented foliage.
The upright, clump-forming plants generally grow 2-4 feet tall and about 1-3 feet wide from a small tap root with spreading rhizomes. They have opposite leaves on the square stems (characteristic of the mint plant family). The foliage remains nice looking throughout the season and sometimes has a purplish cast on the new growth. The flowers are very attractive to bees – particularly bumblebeees, butterflies, beetles and other insects that feed on the nectar or pollen, as well as hummingbirds.
Anise Hyssop Uses
- The aromatic leaves have a licorice-like (anise) scent and are used in herbal teas, to flavor jellies or eaten fresh in small quantities, such as in a salad with other greens.
- The dried leaves can be used in potpourri.
- The flower spikes can be cut to use in fresh arrangements or to dry, and the flowers are edible.
- The plant is also used medicinally to relieve congestion, acting as an expectorant.
Growing Anise Hyssop
- Grow anise hyssop in full sun to partial shade.
- It tolerates a wide range of soils as long as there is good drainage.
- This plant has no significant pest problems but may develop root rot in wet soils or powdery mildew and leaf spots in humid climates.
- It tolerates drought once established but will also do well in moist soils as long as it has good drainage.
- It is easy to grow and rarely needs staking.
- Anise hyssop is easily started from seed and often blooms the first year, but also can be propagated in spring or fall by division of plants that spread by rhizomes.
- Optimum temperature for seed germination is 15-18C.
- Seeds need light to germinate, so barely cover the seeds.
- They should germinate in 1-4 weeks.
- Transplant seedlings when large enough to handle once all risk of frost has passed.
- Space the plants 30cm (12in) apart in full sun.
- Plants grown from seed may bloom the first year.
- Can be successfully grown in containers.
Information is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment offered by healthcare professionals.