Butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees love the violet-blue flower spikes that bloom on anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) from midsummer to early fall. Typical of the mint family, it has square stems and aromatic foliage. Its anise-scented leaves are sometimes used for tea. Good companion plants for this drought-tolerant plant include lavender, prairie coneflower, ornamental grasses, and obedient plant.
Common name: Anise hyssop
Botanical name: Agastache foeniculum
Plant type: Aromatic perennial
Height: 3 to 5 feet, depending on soil
Zones: 5to 9
Family: Lamiaceae (mint)
· Sun: Full sun
· Soil: Well-drained, especially in winter
· Moisture: Moderate
· Mulch: Apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of organic mulch to deter weeds.
· Fertilizer: None required.
· Pruning: Shear spent flower heads to discourage reseeding.
· Sow seeds in early spring.
· Divide in spring.
Pests and diseases
· Rust and mildew may occur.
· ‘Alabaster’ has white flowers and leaves with a musky scent.
· ‘Golden Jubilee’ (pictured here) has licorice-scented, gold foliage and purple flower spikes that bloom in July. It grows 24 inches tall and is a good nectar plant for beneficial insects.
· Anise hyssop thrives in good garden soils, and does well in rock gardens if the site is well-drained.
· Agastaches are drought-resistant, but they flower better with regular watering.
· For gardens with wet winter weather, mulch plant crowns with crushed gravel. Plant on south- or west-facing slopes in fast-draining soil.
· Agastaches need long periods of hot weather to root successfully. They transplant best when they’re actively growing.
· Anise hyssop reseeds easily; to prevent excessive spreading, pull emerging seedlings.
All in the family
· Hummingbird’s mint (Agastache cana, Zones 5 to 10) is smaller than anise hyssop, growing 24 to 36 inches tall. It produces dark pink flower spikes in August and September, and the foliage has a bubblegum and camphor scent. It likes average garden soil.
· Licorice mint (Agastache rupestris, Zones 4 to 9) blooms from midsummer through fall with orange and lavender flower spikes. Its threadlike, gray-green leaves are fragrant. Licorice mint prefers lean, well-drained soil and a sunny location. Hummingbirds like its nectar-rich flowers.
· Mexican giant hyssop (A. mexicana, Zones 7 to 11) has edible, rose-colored flowers and lemon-scented leaves. It likes average garden soil and grows 36 inches tall.
Text by Mary Pestel, photo courtesy of Plant Delight Nurseries, www.plantdelights.com