Anise hyssop, Agastache foeniculum, is a species of perennial plant in the mint family, (Lamiaceae). This upright perennial has spikey purple flowers that bloom June to September. The herb was originally native to North America, but is now grown in Central Asia and Europe. It is believed that beekeepers from North America took the plant to Europe so that they could savor the fragrant honey that could be produced. The square stem is the indicator that anise hyssop is a member of the mint family; it is the most drought-resistant member. It thrives in full sun, well-drained soil, grows from 2-4 feet tall and can even take light shade. It is considered a prairie wildflower. The licorice aroma comes from the leaves and the flowers. The nectar is quite attractive to the pollinators: bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. It is considered deer-resistant but your rabbits may like it.
The leaves can be used in teas, the seeds in cookies and the dried leaves in potpourris. Some people add the flowers to salads. This herb does not tend to have serious disease or insect issues. For your garden, consider using anise hyssop as a border, as an addition to your wildflower or butterfly garden or even in a meadow. The pretty flowers are attractive, either in a fresh or a dry arrangement. If you are interested in the essential oils, the best time is to cut them right before they flower. At our 2019 Herb Sale, we will be offering four varieties in the hyssop family: Anise, Black Adder, Tutti Frutti and Firebird. Consider trying one of these varieties in your garden this year.