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Dress up your garden with a textural masterpiece: fennel. With graceful, fernlike foliage, this herb brings beauty to any setting with an airy form that's a butterfly magnet. Tuck fennel in a sunny spot amid a border where its towering flowers can weave between other plants. Sow seeds where you want them to grow; established plants don't transplant well. Flowers lure a host of beneficial, beautiful bugs -- from butterflies and ladybird beetles to bees and hoverflies.
Green lacewings, aphid predators, frequent fennel, making the herb a great companion for roses and other aphid favorites. Black swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on fennel. Look for black, green, and yellow striped caterpillars munching their way along stems.
Part Sun, Sun
From 1 to 8 feet
15-18 inches wide
how to grow Fennel
Snip licorice-flavor leaves as you need them to add to salads, sauces, and dressings. Slice the bulbous base of a mature plant to serve raw in salads or cooked in stews or pasta sauces. Seeds pack pungent flavor; use in pickles, breads, and sausage, pork, or lamb dishes. To release the strong flavor, crush seeds with a mortar and pestle prior to seasoning culinary creations. Preserve stems by drying or freezing in a resealable plastic bag. To use frozen stems, do not thaw; snip frozen leaves directly into dishes. Harvest seeds as they start to turn brown. Clip flower heads and suspend them, upside down, inside paper sacks, so dried seeds will fall into the bags.