Native Spotlight: The sweet scent of anise hyssop

Anise hyssop
Anise hyssop

Long-blooming, fragrant, and beneficial to bees and birds, anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is an awesome perennial for the garden. It has lovely lavender-colored flower spikes and begins blooming at the end of June, often continuing until the beginning of September. It grows in full sun and is adaptable to different soils, from average to rocky and dry, but not wet conditions.

This plant is amazing at feeding bees, an important benefit at a time when pollinators are declining. And although deer avoid this colorful plant, people can 

enjoy eating anise hyssop—also called licorice mint. Its leaves are fragrant, with a sweet, light licorice smell. I enjoy weeding around it as it releases its sweet scent. It can be used in chicken, cookies, and other recipes, as well as in herbal tea and other beverages. I use its sprigs in lemonade.

Unlike other mints, anise hyssop does not spread aggressively. It does reseed prolifically but unwanted seedlings can be easily pulled.  A short-lived perennial, you won’t notice the original plant is gone because its seedlings will replace it. Trying to save money? This plant is easily grown from seed and, unlike most perennials, will bloom during its first year. Don’t deadhead it or you’ll miss one of its best attributes: some of my favorite moments in the garden occur when goldfinches swoop in to devour its seeds!

Enjoy the long-blooming lavender spikes of this fragrant plant as you sit in your garden sipping lemonade and watching the goldfinches!

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