The herb fennel is closely related to the vegetable Florence fennel. However, the herb form is grown as a perennial, making a long-lived plant that is covered in pretty yellow flowers in early summer. Every part of the plant has a distinctive, aniseed-like scent and taste, and can be used  in salads and cooking; particularly with fish. The flowers are attractive to a range of beneficial insects.

Fennel

Month by month

Sow

Sow in early spring in small pots or modules under cover, or in mid-spring direct where it is to grow.

Grow

Fennel hates having its roots being disturbed or being transplanted, so sow in-situ, either into pots or the ground where it is to grow.

Fennel is a drought tolerant herb once it is established. It prefers a sunny spot in light, free-draining soil, and requires little maintenance apart from the removal of dead stems at the end of the growing season.

Plant

Plant out pot-grown plants from early sowings in late spring and early summer.

Common problems

Aphids
Aphids

Look for colonies of greenfly on the soft shoot tips of plants or on leaves. They suck sap and excrete sticky honeydew, encouraging the growth of black sooty moulds.

Remedy

Use your finger and thumb to squash aphid colonies or use biological control in the greenhouse.

More info on Aphids

Slugs and snails
Slugs and snails

These feed on the young seedlings and you'll see the tell tale slime trail on the soil around your crop, as well as on the leaves.

Remedy

There are many ways to control slugs and snails, including beer traps, sawdust or eggshell barriers, copper tape and biocontrols.

More info on Slugs and snails

Harvesting

Harvest leaves as required from spring to autumn. Seeds can be used fresh over the summer months or dried for winter use.

Varieties

Bronze fennel:Hardier than the species, and highly ornamental, bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare  'Purpureum') makes a great addition to a flower border or herb garden.

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Get involved

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