The Fennel Flower plant is such a great display of color in your garden!
The Fennel plant cheers your garden up with its bright, beautiful, tiny clustered yellow flowers, not to mention all the uses you can give to the whole plant, from ornamental purposes to medicinal and culinary recipes.
It is believed that the Fennel Flower plant is native to the Old World, presumably from the wild of the Mediterranean area where Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used it.
These days too, the Fennel plant has been highly domesticated around the world, becoming more and more popular in North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands.
The Fennel Flower plant is a hardy perennial herb scientifically identified as Foeniculum Vulgare and has adopted different names around the world such as Large Fennel, Common Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Wild Fennel, Fenkel, Bitter Fennel, Garden Fennel, Hinojo, Hinojo de Castillo and Cilantrillo.
The Fennel Flower plant belongs to the Umbelliferae or Apiaceae family, the same family of carrots, celery, and parsley.
This Fennel herb produces clusters of small, yellow flowers, growing from its slim, bright green stems and feather-like foliage, sometimes confused with the dill herb.
There are two types of cultivated Fennel: Sweet Fennel (which does not grow in a wild form) and Bitter Fennel.
These Fennel herbs have different anise tastes according to where they are cultivated.
The Fennel in a wild form is also a highly invasive weed that can severely damage ecosystems, aggressively competing against the vegetation around them for nutrients and space.
The cultivated Fennel Flower varieties are not often invasive and normally grown as an annual crop in warm climates.
The exciting part is that all parts of the Fennel Flower herb are edible: seeds, bulb (Florence Fennel), leaves, stalks, and stem.
The Fennel Flower is cultivated mainly for its culinary, medicinal, and ornamental attributes.
|Scientific Name||Foeniculum Vulgare|
|Common Names||Large Fennel, Common Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Wild Fennel, Fenkel, Bitter Fennel, Garden Fennel, Hinojo, Hinojo de Castillo, Cilantrillo|
|Indoor or Outdoor Plant?||Outdoors|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Size||Up to 6 feet (1.8m) tall|
|Soil pH||Neutral to Alkaline soil with a pH between 6.3 and 8.3.|
|Growing Difficulty Level||Easy|
Fennel Flower Appearance and Characteristics
The Fennel Flower is a herb that grows vigorously; it is highly aromatic and fertile.
The Fennel Flower herb is mainly cross-pollinated (reproduces by moving pollen from one flower to another with the help of insects or wind), making this plant highly prolific.
Fennel herbs have a thick, main, white, dominant root (taproot), spindle-shaped, that has the ability to spread rapidly.
Once the plant is established, it is almost impossible to be removed from the ground, so chemical intervention is necessary.
The Fennel stem is a greeny blue, smooth, and hollow growing up to 8 feet (2.5m approx.) tall.
Although quite uncommon, they often reach full height.
The leaves of the Fennel Flower plant are fragile, green-blueish with a feathery look and are finely divided by narrow thread-like leaves at the base of the stem, often confused with dill herbs.
The Fennel leaves have a characteristic pungent smell.
The Fennel blooms are tiny and yellow, growing in clusters forming an umbrella-like shape.
There are two main cultivated Fennel herbs: Sweet and Bitter.
As their name suggests, Sweet Fennel seeds have a sweet aniseed taste and strong smell, contrary to the Bitter Fennel or Fennel Flower, which has an unpleasant odor and taste.
Fennel Flower seeds are oval, long, narrow, grooved, and dark green or brown.
They become grey as they age.
The seeds of the Wild Fennel germinate any time of the year, but the herbs do not produce blooms until they are between 18 to 24 months old.
Flowering stems grow again every spring from the crown of established plants.
Fennel Flower Growing Guide
The Fennel Flower can be grown from seeds in spring after the last frost in well-drained soil and full sun position.
Although the Fennel Flower plant grows vigorously after being established, it takes a while before showing the first sprouts.
The Fennel Flower seeds need a temperature of 15 to 20C (59 to 68F approx.) to germinate and usually within 2 to 3 weeks after sowing, the stem emerges only after 8 to 10 weeks.
Blooming normally starts between 12 to 16 weeks after sowing, and finally, the production of fruits is between 5 to 7 months.
Curiously, the ideal initial conditions for the Fennel seeds to germinate is in the darkness rather than in light.
Put some soil in a seed tray, then drill some small holes of about half-inch (1cm approx.) deep in each cavity or cell.
Sow one or two seeds per cell. In case both seeds succeed in germination, remove the weaker seedling.
Cover the seeds with a second thin layer of compost.
Gently and generously water your sown seeds.
Place the seed trays in a warm place at about 20C (68F approx.).
Wait for the seeds to germinate, in about 12 weeks, the new seedlings will be ready to be planted outside.
Fennel herb is a cross-pollinated plant; therefore, It is important to avoid planting Fennel herbs with other edible plants to avoid odd-tasting combinations.
Harvesting Fennel Flower herb can be done by just cutting the leaves.
The Fennel foliage can be dried and stored away.
You can obtain the seeds of the Fennel herb after the plant has bloomed and flowers have become brown.
Cut the Fennel plant and put it inside a paper bag in a cool, dry place.
The Fennel seeds will be collected once they fall into the paper bag.
The Fennel Flower herb requires watering once or twice per week.
Increase watering during hot spells where watering twice a day might be necessary.
The Fennel herbs are used to fairly dry soils, so Fennels respond better to under watering than waterlogging.
Searching for water keeps the Fennel herb roots fit.
However, avoid a complete dry out, as this will affect the Fennel Flower herb, making the soil compact and difficult for their roots to absorb the water and keep the moisture.
The Fennel Flower plant thrives best when placed in a full sun location in mild climates.
The Fennel Flower is a happy herb in well-drained moist, loamy (mixture of clay, sand, and humus), non-acid soils with alkaline pH levels between 6.3 and 8.3.
Add a general-purpose fertilizer once or twice a season.
Temperature and Humidity
The Fennel Flower is a cool-season crop at the beginning of the plantation, and it is considered a perennial or annual herb, according to the zone of the plantation.
The Fennel Flower thrives best in temperatures between 21to 24C (70 to 75F approx.).
This flower is fairly frost-resistant, but the tops of the Fennel plant get damaged if it is exposed to long periods of cold spells.
Potting and Repotting
The Fennel Flower plant can be started indoors.
However, the Fennel herb doesn’t take well to being transplanted.
The best approach is to enroot the Fennel Flower seeds into the ground from the beginning.
Plant the Fennel Flower seedlings outdoors after between 4 to 5 weeks of sowing.
- Soak the Fennel plant in water before removing it from the pot.
- To plant the Fennel plugs outdoors, dig a soil hole at about the same size as the seedling.
- Make little pressure on the soil, just enough, to secure the newly Fennel planted seedlings in the ground.
- Water the Fennel seedlings after planting but avoid overwatering them.
- Re-pot the Fennel plants on an overcast day or in the evening to prevent them from wilting.
- Fennel plants should be trained to get used to the outdoor temperature and conditions before replanting in the new locations.
- Harden the Fennel plants for about 10 days before the final outdoors location by using mini-greenhouses or cloches to protect them. Take the cloche off on non-frost days but replace it at night. Increase the amount of time the cloche is on and off for about a week.
- Fennel Flower herbs might not need to be covered when the weather is mild, so just move them outside for extended periods each day.
Shop-bought plants should be re-planted between late spring and early summer.
Avoid pulling the Fennel seedlings out as their very fragile roots and do not like to be disturbed.
Fennel Flower plants appreciate a sheltered, sunny position.
Water your Fennel plants thoroughly before and after planting.
The Fennel Flower herbs grow tall, so grant them enough space between plants for about 1 foot (30cm approx.).
Propagating and Pruning
Fennel Flowers propagated from seeds can be directly sown into your garden.
Sow seeds early in the growing season and cover with about a quarter of an inch (0.5cm approx.) of soil.
Space plugs or thin plants between 10 to12 inches (25 to 30cm approx.) apart, in rows gaped between 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60cm approx.).
Fennel Flowers can be sown indoors from mid-May in modular trays and planted outside until late June.
Avoid root disturbance.
It is important to note that the excess heat and lack of light will make your Fennel plants grow a bit leggy and spindly.
Turn down the heat or reposition your plant and give them as much light as possible.
Pruning your Fennel plant is easy; just remove flowers to prevent plants from self-sowing in case you want to relocate your crop. Leaving the flower tops will attract pollinators.
Advantages of Growing Fennel Flower Plants
Apart from the beautiful display of bright yellow tiny flowers, the Fennel herb is popular for its different attributes to a healthy life.
The Fennel Flower is rich in antioxidants attacking free radicals cells that cause cancer.
The Fennel Flower herb is also used as a part of the weight loss program due to its content of fiber and diuretic attributes.
The Fennel Flower herb has antibacterial properties; therefore, it reduces the bacteria in the mouth and eliminates bad breath problems.
Some research has demonstrated that the Fennel Flower can also be used to improve menstrual problems related (pains, cramps, hot flushes, and postmenopausal symptoms).
Fennel seeds are a great ingredient in your kitchen.
Add them to hot and spicy foods.
The essential oils found in the Fennel Flower seeds are used to treat digestive disorders.
The stalks can be eaten raw or cooked.
Chop Fennel leaves to dress salads, and condiment stews, and soups.
The roots of the Fennel can be eaten cooked as a vegetable.
The seeds of the Fennel Flower are highly aromatic, and they are used as a spice to enhance bread flavor and stews.
The whole leaves are added to meat dishes and fish.
Ground Fennel results in curry powder. The whole Fennel plant contains essential oils, which are used apart from flavoring to produce detergents, soaps, creams, lotions, and luxurious perfumes.
Fennel is rich in essential nutrients, including various vitamins and minerals that help grow and maintain the structure of bones.
Fennel herbs are considered a magic food, one of the world’s healthiest foods.
Fennel Flower Pests, Diseases, and Problems
Although Fennel Flower plants are easy to maintain and are fairly pests and disease-free, like many cultivated herb crops, Fennel Flower plants are a target by some enemies, including insects, nematodes, mollusks, fungi, bacteria, and parasitic plants.
However, it is different when the Fennel plants are of wild forms, where they don’t seem to be affected as much.
Slugs attack young Fennel plants and can destroy your crop.
Cutworms can also affect Fennel by eating the plant through the stem by the soil level.
Difficult to catch as they are active during the night but hide during the day.
Caterpillars (swallowtail butterflies) love eating the Fennel tops as all the plants from the same family as carrots, dill, and parsley.
Downy mildew and powdery mildew are yellow and white patches respectively, on the top and underneath the Fennel leaves.
Make sure your Fennel plants have good airflow, water in the morning rather than at the end of the day and destroy infected plants.
Where to Find High-Quality Seeds
Apart from the weather conditions, well-prepared soil, and water, the quality of the seeds plays a very important role in guaranteeing a successful crop.
Get the seeds from a trusted supplier or check out these useful links:
Can you give Fennel tea to colic babies?
Yes, Fennel tea is popular for alleviating digestive disorders.
Breastfeeding mothers can drink it too to pass it on to their babies through their milk.
Fennel tea can be added to the pumped breast milk or formula milk to reduce gases and bloat from babies’ tummies.
When is too much Fennel consumption?
Fennel seeds are considered safe when consumed in appropriate doses, about 2 to 3 grams of seeds taken three times a day.
Excess may cause side effects, such as contact dermatitis (itchy rash), premature thelarche, allergies, hives, or swelling of the skin.