Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is also commonly known as blue giant hyssop and lavender hyssop. Occasionally, it will also be called by the name of its genus, Agastache. Anise hyssop is a perennial wildflower native to Kentucky, although it is much more common in the northern U.S.
Anise hyssop will grow to three or four feet tall and produce spikes of lavender to purple flowers. Each plant can produce several spikes of flowers. The flowers bloom during the summer and can stay in bloom for several months. Deadheading the flowers when they start to fade can also encourage new blooms.
This plant is a magnet for many different types of pollinators. Honey bees, bumble bees, and many other bee species will go crazy over it. Butterflies, some species of moths, and even hummingbirds will visit the flowers. Once the flowers go to seed, songbirds will often descend upon the spent flowers and devour the seeds.
In the wild, anise hyssop is most often found in dry, open areas such as prairies and barrens. It can also be grown in garden settings and has become a popular plant for pollinator gardens and even herb gardens. I’m not a tea drinker (all tea tastes like dirty water to me), but I’ve been told the leaves make a good tea and that you can eat the flowers on salads.
When planting it in a garden setting, you might want to give it a little room to spread. Anise hyssop is in the mint family and will self-seed. However, it rarely becomes aggressive and doesn’t tend to spread anywhere near as much as what most of us think of when someone says “mint.” Hyssop can be planted from seed or purchased as plants and transplanted into the garden. It is relatively hardy, as well as drought and deer tolerant.
If you are looking for a source of healthy, anise hyssop plants, it is one of the native wildflowers that I grow in my nursery. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite wildflowers for pollinators and if you give it a chance, it might become one of yours too.
This article was part of Shannon’s original Kentucky Pollinators and Backyard Wildlife blog which evolved into the blog for Backyard Ecology. All of Shannon’s Kentucky Pollinators and Backyard Wildlife blogs can be found at https://shannontrimboli.com/posts/blog/.
Backyard Ecology: Creating Space for Pollinators and Wildlife
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I started Backyard Ecology as a way to share my love of exploring nature and learning about different plants and animals. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at www.backyardecology.net.