Anise hyssop, or Agastache foeniculum, is a perennial herb of the Lamiaceae, or mint family.
It’s native to the northwestern US, where it sprawls across prairies, creating vast stretches of lavender, from early summer until the first frost.
The name “anise hyssop” is somewhat confusing, as this plant is neither anise seed (Pimpinella anisum) nor star anise (Illicium verum) nor hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis). However, it is like them in that it is also used in culinary and medicinal applications.
The blossoms are often eaten as a salad garnish, and fresh or dried leaves may be brewed into a soothing tea.
Favorite of Honeybees
Also called fragrant, lavender, and blue giant hyssop, by any name this plant has a fragrance and flavor that have been described as mint-licorice-anise.
It’s a vigorous grower that readily naturalizes in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 9. I’ve had great luck with it in partial shade in zone 6, and, it seems to be one of the few truly deer-resistant plants that I’ve grown.
Blooming A. foeniculum is a favorite of pollinating insects, especially honeybees, and its seeds attract a variety of birds.
This plant grows in an upright fashion from tiny seeds that benefit from weed control until they are firmly established.
When it becomes dense, it is easily divided for transplant elsewhere, or sharing with friends. Consult our Complete Guide to Dividing Perennials for instructions.
Agastache foeniculum Plant Facts:
- Blooms early summer to first frost
- Culinary and medicinal applications
- Deer resistant
- Drought tolerant
- Easy to grow
- Full sun to part shade
- Height 2 to 4 feet
- Lavender color
- Native that naturalizes well
- Nectar plant for pollinators
- Perennial herb
- Well-drained average to dry soil
- Zones 4 to 9
Where to Buy
This award-winning variety is prized for its exceptional 5-inch, deep lavender flower spikes atop mature plants 2-3 feet in height.
I like having A. foeniculum in the garden because it makes me happy whether it’s fresh or dried, all year long.
Some of my family members love its flowers on salads and its leaves made into tea.
I like to watch the bees come to the flowers for nectar and the birds for seeds, but most of all, I like to dry stems for flower arranging in the winter and spring.
Here’s how to dry your own:
How to Dry Flowers
- Cut stems after morning dew has evaporated.
- Bind bunches of ten together with yarn.
- Suspend bunches upside down from nails in a dry place.
- Place newspaper beneath flowers to catch loose seeds.
- Allow 3 to 4 weeks to dry.
- When dry, gently remove each bunch from its nail, give it a gentle shake to remove any remaining seeds, and unbind.
- Toss seeds outdoors for the birds.
- Arrange flowers in vases as desired.
Dried flower spikes retain their lovely lavender color and mild fragrance. And if you like to brew your own tea, be sure to snip off some leaves to steep!
In addition to A. foeniculum, another lavender-hued herb you may enjoy cultivating is lavender itself, also known as Lavandula. For a comprehensive look at this attractive and useful plant, consult our article, How to Grow Lavender in Every Climate.
Does anise hyssop grow in your garden, and do the deer leave it alone? Let us know in the comments below, and follow us on Facebook for all things gardening.
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Product photo via Nature Hills Nursery. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
About Nan Schiller
Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!