Anise hyssop blossom and seeds
image by Melissa Howard
Anise hyssop (agastache foeniculum), is a North American native herb. While it is not a showy plant, the scent of anise hyssop and the appeal of its odor to bees makes it worth growing in the garden. The leaves of the anise hyssop smell like anise with a touch of lemon or pine. Historically, beekeepers grew anise hyssop to introduce an anise note to their honey. Anise hyssop is a perennial in Zones 5 to 9, which means that in colder zones, it can be planted as a hardy annual. For those in cold zones to ensure there is anise hyssop in the garden every year, it is necessary to collect seeds to plant the following spring.
The seeds of the anise hyssop are very small. They are found in the throats of the tiny flowers that grow in whorls around the stem, creating a spike of flowers. You will know the seeds are ready when you look at a flower spike (which often maintains its lavender color at this stage) and see tiny black points at the throat of each blossom.
The easiest way to collect seeds is by cutting off the entire flower spike. To preserve seeds and avoid losing too many, gently cut the stem below the spike. Hold the spike upright (if you tip it over all the ripe seeds will fall right out) and place in a bowl or cup while you collect more flower spikes.
Once you've collected as many flower spikes as you want, spread out a clean white sheet of paper. Hold a flower spike by the stem and tip it over the paper. Many seeds will fall out as soon as you tip the flower spike over. To encourage more seeds to fall out, spin the stem between your fingers or gently rub your finger down along the flower spike.
Place the seeds on a paper towel for a day or two to ensure that the seeds are completely dry. Dry seeds prevent the risk of the seeds rotting or the potential growth of mold.
Pick out any chaff and pour the seeds into a clean dry container that is moisture proof. Avoid storing the seeds in paper or cloth as these materials are absorbent and could absorb enough water to cause the seeds to rot or grow mold.