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