Anise hyssop is an upright, clump-forming perennial that grows 100 centimetres tall by 60 centimetres wide, and bears dense spikes–up to eight centimetres long–of charming lavender-purple flowers from midsummer until early autumn. Like other Mint Family (Lamiaceae) members, it has square stems and aromatic foliage, which in this case smells and tastes like licorice when used as a culinary herb (the flowers, leaves and seeds are all edible).
Anise hyssop grows best in a full sun location in average garden loam that drains well, and once established, it’s reasonably a drought tolerant plant. Tending to be a short-lived perennial, it spreads slowly via underground rhizomes, and self-seeded plants bloom their first year. Careful deadheading will extend the season of bloom considerably, and mature clumps should be divided in early spring or mid-autumn. Free of any serious disease or insect pests, it may develop powdery mildew in particularly hot and dry summers.
A rich source of nectar, anise hyssop is especially valuable for attracting native bees, as well as bumblebees; honeybees use its flowers to make a delicious pale honey that’s subtly flavoured with licorice. The blooms of anise hyssop also act as a butterfly and hummingbird magnet, while the plant itself is deer resistant.