Propagating Anise Herbs: How to Propagate Anise Plants

By: Amy Grant

Variety is the spice of life, so it is said. Growing new anise plants will help spice up the ho-hum herb garden while giving dinner a surprising new zip. The question is, how is anise propagated? Read on for information regarding propagating anise herbs.

How is Anise Propagated?

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is an herbaceous annual grown for the licorice-flavored oil pressed from its seeds. An annual plant, anise has a grooved stem and alternate leaf growth. Upper leaves are feathery, punctuated with umbels of white flowers and an oval-shaped, haired fruit that encases a single seed.

Anise propagation is accomplished by sowing the seed. Seedlings are sensitive to transplanting, so they’re best planted directly into the garden.

How to Propagate Anise

Sow seeds in the spring after all danger of frost has passed for your area and then again in temperate regions in the fall. Anise is not tolerant of frost so be sure to wait until air and soil temperatures have warmed in the spring before propagating anise herbs. Anise, or aniseed, hails from the Mediterranean and, as such, requires temperate to subtropical temps of at least 45-75 F. (6-24 C.), optimally even warmer at 55-65 F. (12-18 C.).

Prior to anise propagation, soak the seed overnight to aid in germination. Select a site that is in full sun and prepare the planting area by raking out any large stones and loosening the soil. Anise grows best at a pH of between 5.0-8.0 and is tolerant of a wide array of soil types but thrives in well-draining loam. If the soil is nutrient-poor, amend it with compost.

Sow seeds ½-1 inch (1-2.5 cm.) deep, spacing additional plants 1-6 inches (2.5-15 cm.) apart in rows 12 inches (30.5 cm.) apart. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and tamp down. Water the seeds in and keep the planting area moist until seedlings appear in around 14 days.

When the flower heads (umbels) are fully open and browning, cut off the heads. Store the flower heads in a dry place or place them in the direct sun to dry more rapidly. When they are completely dry, remove the husks and umbels. Store the seeds in an airtight container.

The seeds can be used in cooking or medicinally and can be stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry area for several years. If using the seeds to propagate a future crop, use them within one year.

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Black And Blue Anise Sage

Salvia guaranitica 'Black And Blue'

Black And Blue Anise Sage flowers

Black And Blue Anise Sage flowers

Black And Blue Anise Sage flowers

Black And Blue Anise Sage flowers

Black And Blue Anise Sage in bloom

Black And Blue Anise Sage in bloom

Other Names: Anise-scented Sage, Guarani Sage

Stunning blue blooms emerge from black spikes from mid summer until frost on this large variety though less hardy to temperature, it is resilient to disease, pollution and seasalts excellent for containers and rock gardens

Black And Blue Anise Sage has masses of beautiful racemes of fragrant blue flowers rising above the foliage from mid summer to mid fall, which are most effective when planted in groupings. The flowers are excellent for cutting. Its fragrant narrow leaves remain green in color throughout the year. The fruit is not ornamentally significant. The black stems are very colorful and add to the overall interest of the plant.

Black And Blue Anise Sage is an herbaceous annual with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season's flowers. It is a good choice for attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Black And Blue Anise Sage is recommended for the following landscape applications

  • Mass Planting
  • Border Edging
  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting

Black And Blue Anise Sage will grow to be about 3 feet tall at maturity extending to 4 feet tall with the flowers, with a spread of 4 feet. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 3 feet apart. Although it's not a true annual, this plant can be expected to behave as an annual in our climate if left outdoors over the winter, usually needing replacement the following year. As such, gardeners should take into consideration that it will perform differently than it would in its native habitat.

This plant does best in full sun to partial shade. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist growing conditions, but will not tolerate any standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for a low-water garden or xeriscape application. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in winter to protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.

Black And Blue Anise Sage is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. With its upright habit of growth, it is best suited for use as a 'thriller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. It is even sizeable enough that it can be grown alone in a suitable container. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Plants→Anise Hyssops→Anise Hyssop (Agastache 'Black Adder')

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle:Perennial
Sun Requirements:Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Soil pH Preferences:Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness:Zone 6a -23.3 °C (-10 °F) to -20.6 °C (-5 °F)
Maximum recommended zone:Zone 9b
Plant Height :24-36 inches
Plant Spread :18-24 inches
Other: Black licorice (anise) when crushed. Blue-green.
Other: Bottlebrush-like
Flower Color:Blue
Other: Light violet-blue with dark purple bracts
Flower Time:Late spring or early summer
Late summer or early fall
Other: Deadhead faded flower stems to ensure more flowering throughout the season. To frost.
Suitable Locations:Xeriscapic
Uses:Cut Flower
Dried Flower
Suitable as Annual
Wildlife Attractant:Bees
Resistances:Deer Resistant
Rabbit Resistant
Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds:Can handle transplanting
Other info: Sterile
Propagation: Other methods:Division
Containers:Suitable in 3 gallon or larger
Needs repotting every 2 to 3 years
Needs excellent drainage in pots
Awards and Recognitions:Other: 2014 Great Plant Picks award winner
Parentage :Agastache rugosum x Agastache foeniculum

We are on our way to northern Kentucky to take a look at Marilyn's gardens. Be sure to click on the images so you'll see the whole picture you don't want to miss anything!

I love Agastache 'Black Adder'! I love to see the Butterflies, Bees and/or Hummingbirds on it, getting nectar from it. I have at least three plants in my front yard flowerbed and I am getting two more to plant there.

It is a beautiful and colorful Agastache! Easy to grow if you have excellent drainage and sun. Other than that, it is undemanding and happy.

It warms my heart to see them on it!

Another wonderful Agastache! Can't have too many of them in my yard!

Harvesting Seeds

Anise plants are typically harvested in between August and September when the flowers go to seed. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to collect anise seeds!

Cut the flowery umbrella, called an umbel, while it’s still green. If you aren’t using the leaves, you can also pull the entire plant out of the ground. Tie the anise plants or umbels into bundles and put them in a well-ventilated area in indirect sunlight to dry. Make sure the area is warm. Doing this helps the herb and seeds to dry out.

Once dried, you can rub the umbel between your palms to help separate the seeds from the hull. Another choice is to tie paper bags around the top of the anise flowers, catching the seeds as they drop out while drying.

After harvesting, store the seeds in a cool, dark place in an airtight container.

You can also extract anise oil with steam distillation.

Harvesting Leaves and Roots

You can also eat anise leaves. They taste similar to the seeds but are milder. Try them chopped up in salads or as a garnish on desserts or meats like sausage. Snip them off the plant as needed.

You can eat the roots, as well. Dig around the plant and gently pull the roots out of the ground. Store them wrapped in a linen cloth in the refrigerator.

Medicinal Uses

You can use anise seeds whole or ground up in recipes or for medicinal purposes. It’s often used as a medicinal herb to treat stomach aches or other digestive issues.

Anise deserves a more prominent place in the cooking world, in my humble opinion. Try it in cookies, sprinkled on chicken, or in a cocktail. Let us know your favorite recipes in the comments.

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