Fennel, known for its aromatic leaves and seeds, prefers a sunny location and well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 5.5-6.8. It's important to prepare the soil with compost or a balanced fertilizer before planting. Fennel can be grown for both its bulbous base and for its flavorful seeds and fronds.
Fennel does not transplant well, so it's best to direct sow seeds in the garden after the last frost when the soil has warmed up. In cooler climates, you can start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost and transplant carefully.
Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep, spacing them 4-6 inches apart. Thin seedlings to 12-18 inches apart to allow enough room for bulb development. Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the growing season. Mulching helps retain soil moisture and control weeds.
For more in-depth information on growing fennel, including specific variety recommendations, refer to our comprehensive fennel grow guide.
Diseases, Insects, and Weeds
Fennel is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. However, aphids and whiteflies can sometimes be a problem. Use organic pest control methods or appropriate chemical treatments if necessary. Regular weeding and good soil drainage help prevent root diseases.
Harvest fennel bulbs when they are about the size of a tennis ball, cutting them at the soil line. The leaves and seeds can also be harvested as needed. Seeds should be collected when they turn brown.
Storage and Preservation
Fennel bulbs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. The fronds can be used fresh or dried for longer storage. Fennel seeds should be dried and stored in an airtight container.