Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) and Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) are two native prairie plants that look good together and generally have a lot in common.

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In our garden they make good companions as they provide synchronized blooms in one of my favorite color combinations.

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Both plants are adapted to a leaner soil. In our garden’s rich soil they tend to grow extra tall and need support, especially the Yellow Coneflower which reaches over 5′ tall.

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We keep the Yellow Coneflower upright with tomato cages – not the wide ones, but the tall and narrow ones. We don’t try to keep all the stems within the cage, but use twine to attach some of the outer stems to the outside of the cage.

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The droopy rays of Yellow Coneflower are endearing, they make me think of beagles. In fact, I briefly tried to promote a new common name for this species: Beagle of the Prairie. Sadly, it didn’t catch on.

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The cone looks like a clown’s nose, except that once the disc flowers mature the flowers suggest a skinny person wearing a long blond wig and a Russian fur hat.

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Both plants are highly attractive to pollinators, and you may find goldfinches feeding on the ripe seeds of the Anise Hyssop. Yellow Coneflower spreads by seed and rhizome, Anise Hyssop only by seed. I have found neither to be aggressive, but I know other gardeners whose experience has been otherwise.

Incidentally, most plants sold as Anise Hyssop in garden centers are not the native species A. foeniculum. They are more likely to be cultivars, such as ‘Blue Fortune’, derived from exotic species of the same genus.

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The blue spikes of Anise Hyssop are an excellent companion for the droopy yellow daisies of Yellow Coneflower. They look good together, have similar likes and dislikes, and they are popular with pollinators. Overall, an appealing couple.

 

39 Comments on “An Attractive Couple in Yellow and Blue”

  1. A great combo. I have tried to get the anise hyssop going before and failed. Seeing this combo makes me want to try again. Maybe I can get them at the plant sale this weekend. I will get them a companion of Yellow Coneflower so maybe they will be happy here together.

  2. I like “Beagle of the Prairie!” Yellow coneflower is such so pedestrian. I love your whimsy today, first the “Beagle of the Prairie,” and then the vision of blonde wigs and Russian hats!

  3. I love coneflowers; we have a half-dozen native species that I can think of, and every one of them looks good with purple (or blue — your anise hyssop looks purple to me). I’ve never heard of the anise; it’s a beautiful plant, and you’ve certainly established it well!

  4. These are a great combo and now I have that Russian “hat” stuck in my brain, thank you ! LOL
    I used to have blue and golden hyssop in my garden .. I don’t know what happened to them but anise hyssop is on my list for next year because I totally love that fragrance and I know the bees love that plant to bits as well. Already … I am deep in thought about next year’s garden, it never rests for long right ? LOL

  5. I love native coneflower and they happily spread around my garden. Mine are the purple ones though, so these are quite interesting to me. I love your phrase synchronized blooms, I think I’ll adopt it. One of my favorite color combos in flowers as well as my paintings is blue and orange. Unfortunately I’ve not had any luck with the hyssop, I don’t think it likes either my soil or water or perhaps both. Lovely display, thanks for sharing.

  6. I’m taking notes on what to do with (in my case crazy overgrowing) tall plants that won’t stand up by themselves… I love the look of the anise hyssop and always appreciate seeing it open up at the Chicago Portage. There’s a definite affinity for yellow and blue too.

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