Anise-hyssop is a short-lived perennial with profuse, long-lasting, tight spikes of lavender-blue flowers. Leaves and flowers smell like anise. Excellent ornamental for the summer garden.
All common names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- North America
- Mixed border,
- Large plant (more than 24 inches),
- Medium plant (12-24 inches)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Occasional drought,
- Alkaline soil
Season of Interest:
- Mid summer,
- Late summer,
- Early fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
An erect, upright habit reaching 2 to 3 feet high
Short-lived, 2 to 3 years
Best in full sun in moist, well drained sites.
Cut back plants in spring to a height of 12 inches to promote more stem branching and fuller growth.
Drought and heat tolerant once established.
Disease, pests, and problems
Does not tolerate wet conditions
Two-spotted cucumber beetles occasionally a problem
Native geographic location and habitat
Found in dry rocky areas and open woodlands and prairies from ND to KS, west to CO and Northern Mexico
Attracts birds or pollinators
Hummingbirds, birds, butterflies, bees and other pollinators
Opposite, dark green, 2 to 3 inch long and 1 inch wide, ovate to lanceolate leaves with serrate margins.
Leaves are often tinted purple, especially in cooler climates, underside of leaf is felt-like.
A strong smell of anise, but some say licorice, tarragon or basil.
Flowers are on tightly packed on 4 to 5 inch long terminal spikes.
Individual flowers are 1/4 inch, tubular, lavender blue with a larger violet bract.
Long-lasting flower spikes begin in mid summer. Makes good cut flowers
Seeds are tiny nutlet. Plants can reseed readily.
Cultivars & hybrids and their differences
Alba Anise-hyssop (Hyssop foeniculum 'Alba' (syn. 'Alabaster'): pale green leaves and creamy white flowers
Golden Jubilee Anise-hyssop (Hyssop foeniculum 'Golden Jubilee'): golden yellow foliage with lavender-blue flowers
Licorice Blue Anise-hyssop (Hyssop foeninulum 'Licorice Blue'): green foliage with lavender-blue flowers
Licorice White Anise-hyssop (Hyssop foeninulum 'Licorice White'): medium green foliage with white flowers
Hybrids are usually showier and hardier and come in a variety of colors. Most are 2 to 4 feet high with fragrant, gray-green leaves and dense terminal spikes.
Black Adder hyssop (Agastache 'Black Adder'): 2 to 3 feet high and 1 to 2 feet wide; black buds open to smoky red-violet flowers
Blue Blazes hyssop (Agastache 'Blue Blazes'): 3 to 4 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide; lavender-pink flowers
Blue Fortune hyssop (Agastache 'Blue Fortune'): 3 to 4 feet high; lavender-blue flowers
Heatwave hyssop (Agastache 'Heatwave'): 2 to 3 feet high; spikes of magenta-pink flowers on soft green leaves