Anise hyssop, or anise agastache, is a colorful perennial plant that not only beautifies the garden with its hues and pleasant aroma, but also has a wide range of uses as well. Its leaves are scrumptious additions to salads, sauces and stews, and can also be brewed for tea. Aside from the culinary purposes, its medicinal capabilities of curing gastric conditions and even hiccups have been recorded way back in the sixteenth century.
Gardeners seek the anise hyssop plant because, not only of their aesthetics and their uses, but also for being a plant that’s very easy to take care of without putting much burden on time and money. Also these plants can attract butterflies, honey bees, and hummingbirds, adding a bit more beauty and life to the garden.
If you plan on growing one yourself here are some tips that may be useful to make the most out of your anise hyssop gardening experience:
- The plant thrives in any kind of soil, from loamy ones to soil abundant with clay, but prefers soil that is well-drained and fertile.
- Poor soil can be improved with compost and manure if you choose to plant the anise hyssop there.
- It is also very flexible with its sunlight needs, so it doesn’t matter if the anise hyssop is planted on partial shade or full sunlight but it thrives more on the latter.
- Mulch the garden bed before the spring ends. This will make the plant able to survive on temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (or -12 degrees Celsius). Mulching will also diminish the need for irrigating during the summer.
- Anise hyssop is known to be highly resistant to deer and rabbit as the aroma keeps them at bay. But there are rare cases when the deer does eat its buds off. This allows the option of woodland gardening viable for this kind of plant.
- Anise hyssop can be started indoors like tomatoes, or outside depending on your preference although it is reported that the flowers will bloom faster if the plants are started indoors.
- If indoors, the plant should be started six weeks before the final frost of spring. After the season’s last frost, when they reach four inches in height and when their leaves emerge, transplant them outside. The pots used for indoor growing must be deep as these plants have long taproots.
- If outdoors, press the seeds into the soil and sprinkle them during the fall or spring seasons. When planted during the former, they will be dormant until spring in which they will sprout. Ensure that the warm temperature is consistent and the danger of frost has completely subsided.
- The seeds should be planted fifteen inches apart from each other to give them space to grow. Anise hyssop plants are known to have excellent self-seeding capabilities, thus the space will allow them to spread out and give you more yield and make your garden fragrant with their minty aroma.
- If the plant quickly spreads out and you find yourself with a lot of anise hyssop plants on your garden bed, you may either leave them be for more harvest or pull the excess ones out.
- A properly mulched garden bed will also stop the anise hyssop seeds from taking root when they fall. This will help control their explosive growth.
- Watering the anise hyssop requires balance. If they are too dry, they won’t be able to grow flowers before the end of summer. If they are too moist, their growth will be hampered. Only water the plants when the weather is dry, and do not let a puddle grow. When the plant matures, it will be able to fend for itself and require less attention.
- Its leaves sometimes wilt during the day even with a moist soil, especially when temperatures are hot. To avoid overwatering, wait until the sun has set before checking the leaves if they have recovered or not.
- Gently pinch back the plants with pruning shears or just your fingernails. Do this during the early summer to encourage branching, as anise hyssop takes a year or two to fully bloom.
- Propagation through division is possible. Harvest young anise hyssop shoots when they have grown to 15 cm in height. Plant the shoots in individual pots and place them in shaded locations. After around three weeks the shoots will grow roots that can be transferred to your outdoor garden at summer or at the following spring.
- Young anise hyssop plants are vulnerable to damage wrought by garden slugs. Deter them by:
- Setting up traps like beer, milk, or slug food traps.
- Spreading a mulch barrier made of oak leaf, wormwood tea, or copper foil. Be careful though as copper foil may harm children who step on them.
- Sprinkling salt on surfaces where slugs frequent to quickly kill them, although this method is very risky as salt may ruin the soil and kill plants as well. To minimize the risk, protect the plants with a barrier of soil before sprinkling the salt. Never use this method during rainy seasons as the salt will be dissolved in the water and be spread on the soil.
- Breeding ground beetles in your garden as they actively hunt down slugs. They won’t pose any risk of damaging your plants too.
- Other than slugs, four-lined plant bugs also pose a risk to your plants. To get rid of them, make sure that your garden is free from weeds as they like to use those as a hiding place. You may also breed other kinds of bugs like damsel bugs to prey on those pests.
- To collect the seeds, gently wrap the flower spikes in paper bag and cut the stalk’s base. Punch small holes on the paper bag to provide air and hang it somewhere cool and dry, or upside down over a sheet of newspaper.
- The leaves can be plucked and brewed into tea or mixed into balms. Just remember to gently pinch off the bottom ones and never overharvest. It is preferred to gather the leaves during early morning hours.