Dress up your garden with a textural masterpiece: fennel. With graceful, fernlike foliage, this herb brings beauty to any setting with an airy form that’s a butterfly magnet. Tuck fennel in a sunny spot amid a border where its towering flowers can weave between other plants. Sow seeds where you want them to grow; established plants don’t transplant well. Flowers lure a host of beneficial, beautiful bugs — from butterflies and ladybird beetles to bees and hoverflies.
Green lacewings, aphid predators, frequent fennel, making the herb a great companion for roses and other aphid favorites. Black swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on fennel. Look for black, green, and yellow striped caterpillars munching their way along stems.
Light: Part sun, Sun
Type: Herb, Perennial
Heigth: From 1 to 8 feet
Width: 15-18 inches wide
Foliage color: Chartreuse/Gold
Seasonal features: Fall bloom. Spring bloom, Summer bloom
Problem solvers: Deer resistant, Drought resistant
Special features: Attracts birds. Cut flowers, Fragrance, Low maintenance
Planting Florence Fennel
Fennel will germinate quickly in soils that are well-drained in a sunny location. Soil should have the pH checked before planting Florence fennel. Fennel require soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0, so you may have to add lime to raise the pH. Sow the seeds 1/8 to ¼ inch deep. Thin the plants after they have sprouted to a distance of 6 to 12 inches apart. Fennel cultivation after sprouting will depend on whether you are using the plant for bulbs, stems or seed.
Before planting Florence fennel, it is a good idea to find out when the date of the last frost is for your zone. Plant the seed after that date to avoid damaging tender new seedlings. You can also get a fall harvest by planting six to eight weeks before the first frost.
Fennel is a common ingredient in curries and the seed gives Italian sausage its primary flavor. It has been in cultivation as part of the Mediterranean diet since the 17th century. Florence fennel has numerous medicinal properties and is found in cough drops and digestive aids to name but two. The plant is also attractive and growing Florence fennel among perennials or flowers adds a lovely accent with its delicate foliage.
How to Grow Florence Fennel
Florence fennel produces attractive, green feathery foliage that provides ornamental interest in the garden. The foliage releases a scent reminiscent of anise or licorice. The plant is a perennial and has a tendency to spread and can become invasive if you don’t remove the seed head. Florence fennel grows best in cooler climates and temperate regions.
Begin harvesting fennel stalks when they are nearly ready to flower. Cut them off to the ground and use them like celery. Florence fennel will ripen to produce a thick white base called an apple. Heap some earth around the swollen base for ten days and then harvest.
If you are growing Florence fennel for seed, you just need to wait through the summer. The vegetable will produce flowers in umbels which will dry out and hold seed. Cut off the spent flower heads and shake the seed out into a container. Fennel seed provides amazing flavor and aroma to foods.