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How to Grow Sweet Fennel Herb Plant

Perennial, Nigella Hispanica

While classified as a herb, Fennel is a popular European vegetable. Native to Mediterranean region, the bulbous base and stalk of this plant, is popular eaten raw like celery, cooked, or boiled. Closely related to Parsley, Fennel is popular in Italian and other Mediterranean recipes.

Also called Florence Fennel or Finuccio, it is easy to grow and very hardy, surviving in your garden, well after the first frost. With bright green, fern-like leaves and aromatic yellow flowers, this plant will grow three to four feet tall. Plant it in the back of the herb garden, or in your vegetable garden.

The plant foliage and seeds have an anise-like flavor.


Plant Propagation:

Grow Fennel plants from seed. Directly sow Fennel seeds into your garden as early in the season as the ground can be worked. Sow seeds and cover with 1/4" of soil. Space seedlings or thin plants to 10-12" apart, in rows 18-24 inches apart.

Start a new planting in mid summer, to harvest in the fall.

Plant Height: up to 3 feet

Days to Germination: 14-20


How to Grow Fennel Herb Plants:

Fennel is easy to grow. The plants prefer full sun and a well drained soil. They will do best in rich soils.Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week. Add a general purpose fertilizer once or twice a season.

Harvest Fennel leaves at any time. Harvest flower heads after seeds have formed, and the flower head has died. Extract seeds and dry them in a cool, dry location.

Harvest bulbs when they reach tennis ball size or bigger. Pull every other one out as needed, to allow those remaining to grow even bigger.

Do not pull these plants up in advance of the first frost. They are very hardy and should continue to thrive and grow, even after a number of hard frosts.


Cooking with Fennel Herb:

Having an Anise like taste, the bulbs and stalks are eaten raw like celery. They are also cooked in a variety of Italian and other ethnic foods.

The leaves are used in sauces, soups, and condiments.

The oil is used to flavor liqueurs, candy, fish and medicine. Oil of Fennel is used in soaps, too.


More Information:

How to Dry Herbs

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