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Fennel can be grown for its delicious leaves and fragrant seeds. The bright yellow fennel flowers will add vibrant colour to any veg patch and are much-loved by beneficial insects.
Growing calendar
Sow indoors Mar - Apr
Sow outdoors May
Plant out/transplant May
Harvest Jun - Oct

How to grow fennel

Sow fennel seed 0.1cm deep in well-drained fertile soil in a sunny site. Thin or transplant fennel seedlings to 25cm apart.

Stake flowering fennel stems for support. Cut back after flowering to encourage more growth.

You can dig up and split established clumps of fennel in spring.

Harvesting and using fennel

Pick young fennel leaves before flowering for use fresh or for freezing. Pick flowers as they open and gather the aromatic fennel seeds as they ripen in summer.

Tips on growing fennel

Don't plant fennel near dill as they may cross pollinate, meaning the offspring of any seeds you've saved yourself will lose their distinct flavour.

Growing notes
Difficulty Moderate
Germination time 7-10 days
Average time to harvest 12 weeks for leaves, 16 weeks for seeds
Equipment needed Stakes
Average plant size Up to 150cm tall, 45cm wide
Family group to grow with Apiaceae: coriander, parsley
Latin name
Seed saving notes Biennial, needs isolation
Key nutritional content Vitamin C (raw bulb), folate (boiled bulb)