Anise hyssop is the common name for Agastache foeniculum. It is a member of the mint family and is a hardy perennial that is grown from seeds or plant division. Hyssop is a traditional favorite in herb gardens, where it is prized as a medicinal plant. As a landscape plant, it is used to create a perennial border or in a mixed perennials garden. Anise hyssop is also used in sustainable agricultural practices to help control harmful insects.
There are at least 10 varieties of hyssop. Anise hyssop grows 2 to 4 feet in height and 20 inches wide. It is characterized by its licorice fragrance. There are several varieties of anise hyssop, including Golden Jubilee. This variety has light green to chartreuse yellow sword-shaped leaves on woody branches and spiked stems with purple whorls of flowers.
Hyssop is grown as a medical herb as well as a landscape perennial. As a landscape shrub, it is prized as a woody ornamental with purple spiked flowers. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. It is grown as a perennial border plant or in the herb garden. As a perennial it is often grown with Japanese anemone or campanulas. Hyssop plants of all varieties attract bees and butterflies to the garden.
Hyssop is cultivated by seed, by cuttings and by plant division. Plant seeds in April or take plant cuttings from older plants in spring. Hyssop may be divided at its root system in spring or autumn. Follow the general guidelines for growing perennials. New plants thrive in most garden conditions and do not need much water. They grow well in dry soil and do best when they are a foot apart.
Hyssop has a bitter, minty flavor. It has traditionally been used as a flavoring, a medicine, and an herbal tea. The American Herb Society recommends its use as part of a program of natural non-chemical housekeeping because of its antiseptic qualities. Anise hyssop as an essential oil is used to treat colds flu and to encourage mental alertness. In a study at Germany's University of Heidelberg, hyssop was found to be effective against the herpes simplex virus type 2.
Aromatic herbs such as anise hyssop are used as companion plants in sustainable agricultural practices. When planted with any members of the cabbage family such as Brussels sprouts, it repels white cabbage moth. Companion planting is an alternative to chemical insecticides and fungicides. Companion planting is the science of mutually beneficial plant interaction and can be used on a small scale in home gardening.