All About Agastache
There are more than 30 species of aromatic perennials in the Agastache group (also known as Anise Hyssop).In cold areas, they’re grown as annuals. Some are native to the United States, while others come from around the world. Many are native to the prairies and plains of the USA.
This mint family perennial blooms late in summer until fall, making it a good choice for gardeners looking for some late color in their garden. They all produce colorful flower spikes, are tolerant of dry conditions and are generally tough plants with few problems.
Agastache is one of those plants you've probably seen many times in gardens and public places and always wondered what it was. Not only are they beautiful and trustworthy flowers in the landscape, the aromatic leaves and flowers are good in teas and for cooking. Native Americans used Agastache leaves medicinally as well.
Types of Agastache
The most popular Agastache is anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). The true species has purple flowers. It stands 3 feet tall with an upright growth habit and spiky flowers. The purple, fuzzy flowers and leaves have a mint and licorice scent and flavor making them favorites for teas.
There are many selections of the species now available with a variety of flower and leaf colors.
- ‘Little Adder’ is a popular selection that's hardy to USDA zone 5, grows 2 to 3 feet tall with blue-to-purple colored flowers.
- 'Tango’ is unique for its compact growth habit that makes it a great choice for containers, as well as its lasting, orange blooms, (reminiscent of Honeysuckle vine) that attract hummingbirds.
- 'Bolero’ has large spikes of pink flowers and grey-green foliage. Like all anise hyssop, this zone 5 plant tolerates drought but grows equally well in regular flower garden conditions. The large flowers make it a standout in a perennial border.
Whatever species of Agastache or anise hyssop you grow, you'll be pleased with its toughness.
Agastache are deer resistant making them a great solution for many gardeners. The original species are usually the hardiest and toughest. As you get into different colored flowers and leaves, sometimes the hardiness and plant vigor suffers.
Choose varieties not only for their flower and leaf colors and plant size, but hardiness. Most are hardy to zone 5 or warmer. The species is hardy to zone 4.
You can still grow anise hyssop if you're in colder areas. Just treat them as annuals. They will flower for a shorter period of time and later in the season, but they still will be a worthwhile addition to your garden.
All Agastache will self-sow readily after they flower. Some gardeners consider this a blessing, others a curse. Luckily, extra seedlings are easily weeded out in spring. Agastache also demands well-drained soil. If you have clay soil you still can grow Agastache, by making a few changes.
Build raised beds and fill them with part sand, compost and loamy topsoil. Break up any hardpan under the bed so water doesn't accumulate during rains. Once established, Agastache are deep-rooted plants. This gives them their drought tolerance and makes them less susceptible to rotting.
If you live in the Eastern United Sates with humid, wet conditions, stick with varieties closer to the original species, such as 'Blue Fortune'. They seem to be able to handle the wet conditions better and not rot.
Companion Plants & Planting Tips
Another use of anise hyssop is as a habitat plant. Hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies all flock to this plant in the garden. In fact, anise hyssop honey is so popular because the bees love foraging from these plants.
Summer grasses, such as switch grass, feathered reed grass, and fountain grass, all provide flower heads when Agastache is blooming, making a nice visual match in the garden. Cactus and succulents grow in the same native environment so look perfectly natural in the garden next to Agastache.
Agastache is unique, too, for its scent and flavor. Plant Agastache in herb gardens with Mediterranean herbs such as sage and thyme. It will add color and the leaves can be harvested as needed for summer drinks and meals.
Plant it in masses in an annual flower garden planting Agastache just as you would Salvia. Since they only need a deep watering every week or two, they are great plants for public plantings or in gardens where you can't attend the plants daily.
The leaves can be dried and used in winter cooking. The flower stalks also dry well for flower arranging. Cut branches once the flowers have opened and hang them in a well-ventilated room to dry.
‘Morello’ Hyssop showers the garden with spikes of tubular raspberry-pink flowers. Sweetly scented, this perennial is a pollinator and hummingbird favorite that blooms from early...Learn MoreMorello Hyssop Morello Hyssop, Hummingbird Mint PP#29527 Agastache Morello PP#29527As low as $9.32Per Plant - 3" Pot‘Morello’ Hyssop showers the garden with spikes of tubular raspberry-pink flowers. Sweetly scented, this perennial is a pollinator and hummingbird favorite that blooms from early summer until fall. It’s hard to beat this much flower power! Easy-care and drought tolerant once established, its foliage has a minty fragrance that helps deter deer. (Agastache)
As vivid as a summer sunset, luminescent Mango Tango Hyssop features peach-pink flower spires accented by rose-colored calyxes in a tidy, compact form. Perfect for planters and gard...Learn MoreMango Tango Hyssop Mango Tango Hyssop PP#28747 Agastache Mango Tango PP#28747$9.32Per Plant - 3" PotAs vivid as a summer sunset, luminescent 'Mango Tango' Hyssop features peach-pink flower spires accented by rose-colored calyxes in a tidy, compact form. Perfect for planters and gardens where you can brush by the fragrant foliage and watch nectar-rich blooms draw butterflies from mid-summer until fall. This drought-tolerant plant is ideal for rock gardens, xeriscaping, and sun-drenched sites with well-drained soil. (Agastache)
Anise Hyssop is a native perennial that keeps you in fragrant pollinator heaven from mid-summer to fall. With a sweet licorice-mint fragrance, long lasting pale purple flowers, and a...Learn MoreAnise Hyssop Anise Hyssop, Blue Giant Hyssop Agastache foeniculumAs low as $11.98Per Plant - 3" PotAnise Hyssop is a native perennial that keeps you in fragrant pollinator heaven from mid-summer to fall. With a sweet licorice-mint fragrance, long lasting pale purple flowers, and an easy-to-grow nature, this is a pollinator powerhouse favored by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Its leaves make a delicious tea too! Deer and rabbit resistant. (Agastache foeniculum)
Little Adder Hyssop brings long lasting, purple flower spikes to the garden throughout the summer season, attracting plentiful butterflies, bumblebees and hummingbirds.. A compact pl...Learn MoreLittle Adder Hyssop Little Adder Hyssop, Hummingbird Mint PP#26514 Agastache rugosa Little Adder PP#26514$9.32Per Plant - 3" Pot'Little Adder' Hyssop brings long lasting, purple flower spikes to the garden throughout the summer season, attracting plentiful butterflies, bumblebees and hummingbirds.. A compact plant with vigorous blooms, this one produces more flowers then most hyssops (also called Agastache). A great choice for containers. (Hyssop)
About the Author: Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden speaker, author, consultant, radio and TV show host. He delights in making gardening information simple, easy, fun and accessible to everyone. Visit his website, GardeningwithCharlie.com for how-to gardening information, and for more about Charlie.
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