Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Fennel
Give a thumbs up Common Fennel

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Water Preferences: Mesic
Dry Mesic
Dry
Plant Height: 3-6 feet
Flower Color: Yellow
Flower Time: Summer
Late summer or early fall
Fall
Uses: Culinary Herb
Dynamic Accumulator: Nitrogen fixer
P (Phosphorus)
Na (Sodium)
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Butterflies
Resistances: Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Self fertile
Suitable for wintersowing
Sow in situ
Other info: difficult to transplant , very long tap root
Pollinators: Various insects

a very good nectar source for many

The Top 25 Herbs, Selected by ATP MembersThe Top 25 Herbs, Selected by ATP Members
February 15, 2014

Let's open Herbs week with a look at the most popular herbs, as determined by the number of individuals who have posted comments and photos to the herb entries in our database.

(Full article7 comments)
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Comments:
Posted by Bonehead (Planet Earth - Zone 8b) on Jul 4, 2016 7:01 PM

May improve eyesight. Quoting Longfellow:

"Above the lower plants it towers,
The fennel with its yellow flowers;
And in an earlier age than ours
Was gifted with the wondrous powers
Lost vision to restore."

On the other hand, this is a Class B noxious weed in Washington state (do not allow to spread). Fennel colonizes disturbed ground and grasslands, forms dense colonies, and out-competes natives. Hand dig or mow before it goes to seed.

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Posted by Catmint20906 (Maryland - Zone 7a) on Aug 1, 2014 8:09 PM

In addition to being a larval host plant for the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, Foeniculum vulgare attracts a variety of beneficial insects to the garden, including parasitic mini-wasps, hoverflies, ladybugs, and lacewings. These beneficial insects eat a variety of common garden pests including aphids, armyworms, codling moths, European corn borer, flies, gypsy moths, cabbageworms, mealybugs, soft scales, spider mites thrips, moth eggs, and small caterpillars.

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Posted by gardengus (Indiana Zone 5b) on Apr 2, 2013 2:32 PM

When planting fennel, keep it far from your dill. These two will cross pollinate.
The dill seed will not produce a true-tasting dill plant. Best to buy fresh seed.

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Posted by Bonehead (Planet Earth - Zone 8b) on Sep 22, 2014 2:21 PM

Typically grown for the bronze feathery foliage, and often dead-headed before flowers form. The flowers are, however, an important host for parasitic wasps, which help to control caterpillars and aphids. To prevent rampant re-seeding, allow flowers to bloom but dead-head before the seeds mature. Fennel may be short lived, so allowing a small amount of re-seeding may be advantageous. Catch unwanted seedlings early as fennel has a long taproot and more mature plants are difficult to pull up. Looks rather ratty after a frost (the leaves just straggle down), so I cut to the ground in late fall. Some folks may be sensitive to the sap, which can cause phytophotodermatitis. If you are susceptible to this, work with this plant on overcast days wearing gloves and long sleeves.

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Posted by Sharon (Calvert City, KY - Zone 7a) on Sep 25, 2011 9:05 PM

Fennel is a food plant for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, in this zone it is the Swallowtail. It also provides a faint licorice flavor and is especially good as a seasoning for baked fish.

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Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Feb 11, 2012 8:41 AM

If you want to collect the fennel seeds, leave the flowering stalk. You can still harvest the outer leaves, but don't cut the center stalk which will bear the flowers. Watch when seeds start to turn from green to brown, and then cut the whole head and allow it to finish the ripening process in a brown paper bag. When the seeds are ripe, they will easily shake loose from the main head. Store in a dry airtight jar out of light.

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Plant Events from our members
Catmint20906 On July 12, 2015 Bloomed
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