A native of Italy, this perennial can be used as a vegetable, herb, and spice. As a vegetable, use the plant’s spreading bulbous base for a texture much like celery, but with a subtle anise flavor.
Florence Fennel Seeds
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Fennel is a native of Italy and can be used as a vegetable, herb, and spice. As a vegetable, use the plant’s spreading bulbous base for a texture much like celery, but with a subtle anise flavor. This wonderful addition to any garden produces the highest weight bulbs of firm, white, and highly aromatic flesh.
Planting by Zones
- Fennel is a cool season plant that can be grown from fall until late spring in Zones 9 and 10. Its growing season can be extended by using shade cloth or row cover. Fennel will naturally want to flower and go to seed as the days get longer.
- Plant mid-spring through early summer for plant maturity to coincide with shorter days and cooler temperatures.
Planting Fennel Seeds
- Fennel is most easily direct sown into the garden. Plant seeds in debris-free, well-worked soil that has been deeply watered. Cover with 1/2” of finely sifted soil.
- Once the seedlings have germinated and have a first set of true leaves be sure to fertilize regularly with an organic liquid fertilizer.
- Space plants 6” apart.
- Grow in full sun in fertile, well-drained soil. In warmer climates, some shade can be tolerated.
- Fennel needs ample watering for the best taste and yield. In Zones 9 and 10, this may mean hand watering or providing regular irrigation.
- Keep your plants weed-free by pulling any weeds that may compete with your dill.
- Fennel self-sows easily; it’s likely that if you plant it once, you’ll see it again the following season. Fennel seeds are delicious and a great addition to many recipes.
Succession Planting Fennel
- If you enjoy large amounts of fennel, succession planting is a good idea. Start a new round of seeds every 14 days.
Growing Fennel in Containers
- Make sure your container is at least 10” deep. Keep in mind containers will dry out faster because they have more surface area and less soil to hold onto moisture. Mulch heavily on the top layer of soil in the pot to keep the soil from drying out or heating up too much.
- Fennel can be harvested for use as a vegetable, herb, and spice. Harvest fennel leaves as needed for fresh use. Seeds can be harvested when ripe. Fennel bulbs can be harvested once their bases thicken; simply cut the bulb free just above the taproot.
Southern California Pro-tips
- In areas of Zones 9 and 10, fennel is an easy crop to grow in the cool season. As the days get longer it will want to go to flower.
- Mulch heavily around your plants to ensure the soil does not dry out or heat up too much. Compost added to the soil at the time of planting will help retain moisture in the soil during hot, dry weather.
- During our hottest months, plants can suffer from the heat. Use shade cloth to help protect the plants from extreme heat.
- Fennel is an herb and vegetable that is also ornamental when it goes to flower. Interplanting fennel with flowers is a great way to utilize space and create a beautiful and edible garden. Fennel looks particularly beautiful when planted with alyssum and nasturtium, borage and Poppies.
Additional Learning Resources
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