Lacy, beautiful fennel plants grace planter boxes and the delicate leaves are lovely in salads. Like dill and parsley, the flowers of fennel are intensely attractive to beneficial insects. Grow fennel in a sunny position in well-drained loamy soil. If your soil is on the clay side, add some sharp sand to the bed. In the first year, fennel will grow to about 60cm (24″) tall, but in mild areas plants can reach 2m (6′) tall. Follow these How to Grow Dill instructions.

Latin
Foeniculum vulgare
Family: Apiaceae

Difficulty
Easy

Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: Hardy to Zone 5

Timing
Direct sow any time after last frost to early summer. Fennel can be started indoors, but like its close relative dill, it responds to transplant shock by bolting. Peat, coir, or newspaper pots may help prevent this. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 15-21°C (60-70°F).

Starting
Sow seeds 1cm (½”) deep, a few seeds in each spot you want a plant to grow. Thin or space to 30cm (12″) apart.

Growing
Grow fennel in a sunny position in well-drained loamy soil. If your soil is on the clay side, add some sharp sand to the bed. In the first year, fennel will grow to about 60cm (24″) tall, but in mild areas plants can reach 2m (6′) tall.

Harvest
Gather the fronds to use in salads and dressings. Use the seeds in baking. These plants will self-sow readily and become a weed if the seedheads are not removed in the fall.

Seed Info
Usual seed life: 3 years.

Companion Planting
Not a companion for any garden food plant, fennel will actually inhibit growth in bush beans, kohlrabi, tomatoes, and others. Plant it, but keep it out of the veggie garden.

More on Companion Planting.

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