How to Grow Fennel For the Freshest Leaves, Seeds & Plump Juicy Bulbs

Follow this step-by-step guide about how to grow fennel and you can have a regular supply of fresh leaves and root/bulbs for use in your recipes all through the  season. 

At the end of the growing season you can harvest and dry the seeds for use in many recipes and spice blends. 

picture of fennel

The versatile fennel herb is particularly good for fish dishes, dressings, soups and salads. The bulb can be eaten raw or cooked as a root vegetable.

General Notes... 

It's a perennial herb which can reach 6 foot plus! It likes a sunny spot in fertile, well-drained soil that is kept moist.

You can sow seed indoors or outside after the last frost, or, you can sow directly into the garden.

It's also does well in containers.

After 3-4 years, You can divide the roots of older, established plants for fresh growth.

Step-by-Step-Tips on Growing Fennel Herb

Note: If you want to grow this herb for the plump bulbs, you need to plant Florence fennel.

How to Grow Fennel Indoors:

  • 2-3 weeks before the average last frost date sow fennel seeds in pots or plugs filled with general potting/seed compost
  • Whilst they are germinating, keep the soil moist and the temperature between 15-20°C (60-68°F) is ideal
  • Once germinated, follow instructions below

How to Grow Fennel Outdoors:

  • In your prepared bed, and after the last frost date in your region, sow the seeds in ½ inch (2cm) deep drills in rows 24 inches apart. Water
  • Keep moist, and once germinated thin to about 12-15 inches (30-40cm) apart
  • If you grew seedlings indoors, Plant these 12-15 inches (30-40cm) apart
  • Water well, especially in dry, hot weather and keep weed free. You may need to stake the plants if they grow too large

Container Herb Gardening & Pests:

Fill containers with standard potting compost and plant seedlings in situated in a sunny spot or on your patio. Copper fennel is ideal for pots as it's attractive as well as edible.

Watch out for caterpillars. Remove these by hand.

Harvesting the Leaves & Seeds:

Regularly pick the young leaves throughout the growing season. Once the plant has flowered let the seeds ripen and dry on the stems before shaking and collecting for sowing next spring or using in your cooking.

If you grew Florence fennel, dig up the bulbs when about 3-4 inches (10-12cm) in diameter.

For something a little different, you can use the leaves and seeds to make a very healthy drink. Click here for my recipe.

Image Links to More How to Grow Herb Pages

How to Grow Basil Herb

Growing Dill Plants

Growing Oregano


Return to How to Grow Herbs 

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