Hyssop

Sage and lavender are used extensively in perennial borders but there is another, hyssop, that deserves more attention than it currently receives.

hyssop flower and butterfly

Photo: Diana Beideman

Hyssops attract hummingbirds, butterflies and gold finches because of their fragrant licorice scented foliage.

Many herbs make good additions to the perennial garden, providing flowers and foliage that combine well with other plants. Sage and lavender are used extensively in perennial borders but there is another, hyssop, that deserves more attention than it currently receives.

There are about twenty species ranging in height from 18 inches to 6 ft in its genus Agastache (ag-ah-STAH-chee). The North American native Agastache foeniculum is 3-5 feet tall with anise scented leaves and has spikes of blue/violet flowers mid summer to fall. It is reliably hardy only to zone 6 but self seeds.

A. cana (CAY-nuh) is 2-3 foot tall and has spikes of pink and rose purple flowers. Its common names are Wild Hyssop, Hummingbird Mint. It is hardy zones 5 through 10.

Perks of Hyssops

All hyssops require excellent drainage and full sun or very light shade. And all attract hummingbirds, butterflies and gold finches because of their fragrant licorice scented foliage.

‘Blue Fortune’ has soft powder blue flowers and well branched stems that don’t need to be cut back and continue to bloom in October.

It is a wonderful flower for cutting and combines with any other flower in a vase.

It grows 3-4 feet high so, like the other giants hyssops, goes in the back of a border.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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