ABOUT THE PLANT
Description: Anise is a plant that grows in clumps that can reach 2-4 feet high. It has opposing spear-shaped, aromatic leaves on a square stem. The flower head is a spike composed of numerous tiny, purple-tinged flowers. It stays in bloom most of the summer. Not only is it used as an ornamental, but in the herb garden as well. Both the flowers and foliage are edible and have a sweet, minty, licorice-like taste. Anise is an excellent nectar source for butterflies and hummingbirds.
Origin: Native to North America in parts of the upper Midwest and Great Plains
Usage: Use fresh or dried flowers as a topping on salads. For both visual appeal and taste, garnish ice cream, fresh fruit, or iced cakes with fresh blooms. Flowers or leaves can both be used for hot tea. The tea acts as a cough suppressant and fever reducer and can help relieve a sore throat. A beautiful ornamental in the garden and in large containers.
Interesting facts: The International Herb Association awarded Anise hyssop "Herb of the Year" In 2019. The award highlights herbs that have ornamental, culinary, or medicinal attributes, and Anise hyssop stands out in all three categories.
HOW TO GROW
General requirements: Choose a hot, sunny planting site with quick-draining soil. Does best in full sun but also tolerates light shade. It does quite well in dry, poor soils, summer heat, and humidity. The seeds need cold stratification (exposure to cold, moist conditions) to germinate, so it is best to direct sow them in the garden in the fall. This way, they will come up in the spring and bloom the first year. The seeds also need light to germinate, so don't bury them. Instead, sprinkle them on the soil surface and press them down.
In the garden: Direct sow them in the garden in the fall. This way, they will go through a natural cold stratification during the cold winter, come up in the spring, and bloom the first year. The seeds also need light to germinate, so don't bury them. Instead, just sprinkle them on the soil surface and press them down. After they come up in the spring, and the seedlings have at least two sets of true leaves and are relatively sturdy, thin them to one and a half to three feet apart.
For already established plants, cut back to about 4" in spring. Most of these plants will self-seed readily, so deadhead in the fall to prevent reseeding.
In containers: Use large, well-draining containers with 18- to 20-inch rims and a depth of at least 12 inches for ample root space. Fill with well-draining soil and sprinkle the seeds on top and press down. Do not bury the seeds as they require light to germinate. Also, remember the seeds first need cold stratification to germinate. To do this, mix the tiny seeds with moist sand and place them in the fridge for about a month before sowing.
Transplanting: After a month of cold stratification of the seeds, start them indoors six to eight weeks before the last average frost date in your area. Sow the seeds in flats or small containers filled with well-draining soil. Do not bury the seeds as they need light to germinate. Place them in a bright window. When they have at least two sets of true leaves, and all danger of frost has passed, transplant seedlings to the garden. Space them 1 ½ -3 feet apart in a sunny location.
Leaves: To harvest fresh leaves, pinch them off as needed or store them in a zippered plastic bag in the fridge for about one week.
For later use, dry the leaves and store them in jars or plastic bags in a dark, cool, dry place.
Flowers: Snip off flowers or entire flower heads just before they are fully open to use as fresh garnishes on salads or special desserts.
For later use, dry the flower heads and store them in jars or plastic bags in a dark, cool, dry place.
Seeds: To harvest seeds for sowing later, wait until the flower spikes begin to dry and turn brown. Remove them and spread them out to dry. When they are completely dry, thresh to remove the seeds. Store in a cool, dry, and dark area.
Common name: Anise Hyssop, Licorice mint, or Blue Giant Hyssop
Latin name: Agastache foeniculum,
Growth habit: an upright, clump-forming perennial
Life cycle: perennial
USDA Zones: 4-9
Seeds per ounce: ~65,000