The anise hyssop (Agastache) belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae) and beguiles especially in sunny weather not only by their high, colorful flower candles, but by their pleasant fragrance, which they then exudes. In addition, it attracts many insects and thus ensures a happy life in the flowerbed. In addition, most leaves and flowers of the anise hyssop are edible.
Anise hyssops are sometimes referred to as blue nettle. This applies to some blue-flowering varieties, which are used like classic, hardy garden shrubs.
Other varieties, there are about twenty-two, can only be cultivated as annuals, as they can not withstand cold temperatures. These usually only reach lower stature heights than hardy perennials.
Profile of anise hyssop:
Scientific name: Agastache
Plant family: mint family (Lamiaceae)
Other names: calamint, Korean Mint, mosquito nettle, blue nettle
Sowing time / Planting time:
Flowering period: June – September
Soil quality: dry, nutrient-rich, permeable, sandy; only Agastache rugosa tolerates moist and heavy soil
These information are for temperate climate!
Use as a medicinal herb: –
Use as spice herb: edible leaves and flowers with aniseed and minty fragrance, uised for tea, salads or dips
Use in: beds, borders, stone garden, plant in groups, container
Winter hardiness: some varieties are hardy
Bee and insect friendly: yes
Plant characteristics and classification of anise hyssop
Plant order, origin and occurrence of anise hyssop
The anise hyssop (agastache) belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae) and originally comes from Korea, Japan, North America and Northeast China.
Appearance and growth
The growth form of the Agastachen strongly depends to which group the respective variety belongs. Anise hyssop can be subdivided into two groups. The four species from China, Korea and North America and their varieties are not only significantly higher than the species of the second group, they also grow very bushy. Their upright stems, which are covered over and over with fragrant, broad leaves, form dense clusters. These species can reach heights of growth of up to 2.50 meters (8 ft). The heat-loving species that form the second group remain much lower and are characterized by a rather loosely branched growth. None of them gets higher than a meter (40 in), some only reach up to 30 centimeter (12 inches).
Leaves and blossoms
But not only the growth, the leaves and the flowering of the two groups are different. While the flowers of the four horticultural shrubs are dense pseudospiklets and are usually colored white or blue – with the exception of Agastache nepetoides with its yellowish-green flowers – the species of the second group present a colorful bloom, with pink, red or also orange flowers. In contrast to the rather compact spikes of the first group, they are not only larger, but also arranged in groups or whorls and the individual flowers are rather loose.
However, both groups have their heyday, which varies from end of June to September depending on the variety. The leaf form of the second group is rather lineal in comparison to the broad, egg-shaped foliage of the first group. Depending on the variety, the leaf margin may be serrated to smooth-edged. Characteristic of all types of nettle are also the square stems and the conspicuous aniseed or fennel scent that the leaves emit when grounded.
Anyse hyssop – cultivation and care
Location and soil
As a general rule, anise hyssop are more winter hardy, the drier the location is they are growing on. Waterlogging and wet winters are not favorable for the perennials. Ideally is a plantation in full sun with nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Korean mint (Agastache rugosa) and its hybrids are the only ones that tolerate slightly damper and heavier soils, with others you should make the soil more permeable using sand.
Anise hyssop in the pot can be planted from spring to autumn. If the soil in your garden is not very nutritious, you should improve it with some compost before planting.
Korean mint can be propagated by seeds, cuttings and by division.
- Anise hyssop often sow themselves
- Sowing is possible outdoors in summer, but will flower only in the following year
- Flowering in the same year of cultivation is possible when sowing is done in early spring by pre-cultivation indoors
- Use seeding compost or mix normal garden soil with some sand
- Small pots, bowls or yoghurt pots are ideal for growing
- Cover seeds only slightly with soil
- Put glass pane or plastic bags over the pots
- Do not forget to air it regularly so that mold does not develop
- optimal germ temperature 20 ° C / 68 ° F
- Germination time is between 20 and 30 days
- Prick into pots individually or in small groups
The anise hyssop is best lift and divided in spring. Simply cut the root ball with a spade. You can also use sharp garden shears and cut the roots apart individually. Before doing this, you should shake off the soil sufficiently so that the root ball can be cut well. Replant the halves separately at the desired location.
Propagation by cuttings is done in spring. However, for this it is necessary that the plants, from which you want to take the cuttings, have already set individual leaf buds.
- Cut 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) long shoots below a leaf node
- Put cuttings in growing soil or normal garden soil
- cover with foil and ventilate from time to time
- optimal room temperature 15 to 20 ° C / 50 and 59 ° F
- As soon as new leaves emerge, roots will grow
- Transfer the rooted cuttings into pots
The small, tender grown anise hyssop are only bed out from May, as soon as there are no more frosts. You can achieve a special effect by planting different types of anise hyssop in groups and additionally combining them with other types of Agastache. 4 to 5 plants per plant hole at a distance of approx. 40 cm / 16 in from plant group to plant group results in a colorful, but nevertheless harmonious overall picture. In addition, it smells not only of anise and mint if you also combine the Agastache rugosa with fruity-scented Agastache.
The anise hyssop rarely needs to be watered. However, in dry periods, it needs regular watering to be able to fully develop its flowers and develop their scent. A layer of mulch between the plants prevents the soil from drying out.
Also in spring, the perennials are supplied with some compost or other organic fertilizer to give them a good start in the new season. Cold horsetail and nettle tea or swill can also be added as a fertilizer in the irrigation water.
If you prune the withered flowers in summer after the main blossom, you will often get a second flowering, which lasts until autumn. Cut the plants 5 to 10 cm / 2 to 4 in above the ground and, if necessary, fertilize lightly if you did not use long-term fertilizers in spring. Some hobby gardeners leave the bloomed flowers in autumn, so that seeds form that can be harvested and still serve as a source of food for chickadee, bullfinch or other birds in winter.
The Agastache rugosa is hardy, but in very rough areas it should still get some winter protection with spruce or fir twigs in severe frosts. Anise hyssop in trays, pots or tubs should be put in the stairwell, in a bright cellar or winter garden during the winter. A room temperature between 10 and 15 ° C / 50 and 59 ° F is optimal. Make sure that the air is not too dry and warm. Spider mites are not afraid to attack the plants in winter quarters.
Diseases and pests
Diseases and pests do not really occur to the anise hyssop. Only slugs like to eat these plants. However, as the snails are very picky gourmets, with various plants that are not liked by slugs, you can protect your anise hyssop and diminish the appetite of the snails. This method is mainly used in cottage gardens. Just plant a number of these plants around the Agastachen or between them:
If the plants are too wet, they have no chance against the downy mildew. Downy mildew is a fungus. It is recognizable by the reddish-purple spots on the top of the leaves. Some downy mildews also develop brown or yellowish spots on the leaves, which are bounded by leaf veins. On the underside of the leaves a gray, dirty-looking film is formed. The spread and growth of this fungus is favored by a wet and nitrogenous location as well as by cool, humid weather.
Measures against downy mildew
A mixture of milk and water helps against downy mildew. Likewise against the powdery mildew. Simply mix 1 part fresh milk with 9 parts water and stir well. Then spray the plants regularly two to three times a week with this mixture. The sodium phosphate of the milk strengthens the defense of the plant, while the contained lecithin fights the powdery mildew fungus.
Remove infested plant parts
Generally remove all affected parts of plants and dispose of in the residual waste so that the fungus can not spread within the compost. Also spray near-ground parts of the plant that have not yet been attacked and, if necessary, the garden soil. Because the fungus hibernates in the soil, on garden tools and organic material such as fences and wooden poles. For this reason, you should thoroughly clean the equipment used with an antiseptic agent such as alcohol.
Use in the garden
In summer, anise hyssop are beside scarlet monarda (monarda didyma), coneflower (Rudbeckia), great globe thistle (Echinops), phlox or widow flower an eye-catcher in the perennial border. The striking pseudospiklet of the species used as garden shrubs predestined them for a combination with perennials with different flower shape. For example, in combination with species such as goldenrod (Solidago) or Lindheimer’s beeblossom (Gaura lindheimeri), which carry rather loose inflorescences, come into their own. Even typical autumn grasses such as the switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) are great partners in the bed. The deep blue violet of some anise hyssop varieties, such as the Agastache Rugosa hybrids ‘Black Adder’ or ‘Blue Fortune’, form a particularly beautiful contrast to yellow-flowering perennials.
Some varieties of anise hyssop can also be used in the kitchen. The aroma of anise hyssop is reminiscent of mint and anise. In Korea, you spice pancakes and stews with it. In addition, the Korean mint is wonderful for tea. The North American anise hyssop has an intense aniseed-fennel aroma, which is also why it owes its name. In the kitchen, it can be used anywhere, where you would also use the herbs, for example fish stew or salad. The Mexico-based Agastache mexicana, with its citrus flavor, is especially suitable for refreshing drinks.
Important species and varieties
As already mentioned, the genus of the anise hyssop includes about 22 species, which can be divided into two very different groups. On the one hand, there are the species of the Agastache rugosa, often referred to as blue nettle, from China, Korea and North America, the anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), yellow giant hyssop (Agastache nepetoides) and the nettleleaf giant hyssop (Agastache urticifolia), which are all classic garden perennials. There are many varieties available, such as the popular Agastache Rugosa hybrids ‘Black Adder’ or ‘Blue Fortune’.
The second group includes those from warmer climes such as the Mexican giant hyssop (Agastache mexicana) or Orange hummingbird mint (Agastache aurantiaca). They grow naturally in open, dry and rocky places in Mexico and California and are used as annual flower because of their frost sensitivity.
As the anise hyssop is good for crossbreed, their assortment is becoming bigger and bigger and there are now varieties such as ‘Sangria’ of the Mexican giant hyssop, which are more frost-resistant than the wild species.
Agastache rugosa “After Eight”
- Growth height 40 cm / 16 in
- Flowers bloom purple from dark purple buds
- Flowering period June to August
Agastache rugosa “Black Adder”
- Growth height 70 to 120 cm / 28 to 48 in
- blue-violet flowers
- dark pistons
- Flowering period from July to September
Agastache rugosa “Serpentine”
- Growth height 180 cm / 6 ft
- Flower color blue purple
- Flowering period from July to October
Agastache rugosa “Blue fortune”
- Growth height 60 to 90 cm / 24 to 36 in
- blue-violet flowers
- Flowering period from July to September
Agastache rugosa “alabaster”
- Height of growth 60 to 80 cm / 24 to 32 in
- greenish-white flower spikes
- Flowering period from July to October
Agastache rugosa “Golden Jubilee”
- Growth height 50 to 70 cm / 20 to 28 in
- blue-violet flowers
- golden yellow glowing leaves
- in rough locations winter protection necessary
Agastache rugosa “Korean Zest”
- bushy growth
- more powerful mint flavor than other giant sushi varieties
- bright azure flower panicles