Pizzelles? No – anise hyssop

Q. What is this plant? It has beautiful, purple blooms and the pollinators love it!

Don from Youngstown

A. Don’s plant is anise hyssop, Agastache foeniculum.

Although it is named “anise” – after the traditional flavoring in pizzelles, it is not anise. But this stunning plant attracts pollinators to the garden and has a scent similar to anise, which reminds gardeners of those tasty Italian cookies.

Hyssop is a plant native to the United States. It is a member of the mint family, thus the square stems on the plant.

It will not spread rapidly like many of the common mints. Rather, it will reseed, depending on the soil conditions and mulch thickness in your flower beds or herb garden.

I have not seen it overseed the garden and take over. If you are worried about this, know that the tiny seedlings are easily removed.

This plant is edible. The Native Americans used this plant for all kinds of treatments. The licorice aroma permeates the air around this plant. Rubbing the leaves makes the scent even stronger. Cooks use it for everything from jelly to salad greens.

The plant can get tall – up to 3 feet in ideal conditions. Most cultivars stay at slightly more than 24 inches tall.

Hyssop needs good drainage. Plant in a raised bed or a location when water moves away after a good rainfall. Planting in wet soils will cause this plant to be a short-lived perennial.

The complete flower head is at least 2 inches long and can be up to 6 inches long. The tiny blue to purple flowers cover the entire flowerhead along the stem.

The great thing about this plant? It blooms from midsummer all the way to fall. By cutting spent flowerheads, additional blooming will occur.

The plant will attract all types of pollinators: from pollen lovers such as bumblebees to nectar lovers like hummingbirds, you’ll catch a glimpse of nature’s best when you plant this plant.

To learn more about this plant and the cultivars for your garden, visit http://go.osu.edu/hyssop.

Eric Barrett is OSU Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Call the office hotline at 330-533-5538 to submit your questions. Regular clinic hours are 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays.

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