Common Fennel, Bronze Fennel

Foeniculum vulgare

Family: Apiaceae (ay-pee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Foeniculum (fen-IK-yoo-lum) (Info) (fen-IK-yoo-lum) (Info)
Species: vulgare (vul-GAIR-ee) (Info)
View this plant in a garden




Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade



Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer


Grown for foliage


Good Fall Color

Provides winter interest

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Mobile, Alabama

Clovis, California

Concord, California

Los Angeles, California

Menifee, California

Simi Valley, California

Denver, Colorado

Brandon, Florida

Brooksville, Florida

Navarre, Florida

Lula, Georgia

Itasca, Illinois

Greenville, Indiana

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Barbourville, Kentucky

Biloxi, Mississippi

Aurora, Missouri

Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Roswell, New Mexico

Ithaca, New York

Raleigh, North Carolina

Columbus, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma

North Augusta, South Carolina

Nashville, Tennessee

Sevierville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Houston, Texas

New Caney, Texas

North Richland Hills, Texas

Leesburg, Virginia

Port Angeles, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 27, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is a herbaceous perennial that's hardy in USDA Zones 4-9.

The bronze-leafed form comes true by seed, but is distinct from the species, which has green leaves.

I like the look of the plant, but I've found it self-sows excessively here in Boston Z6a. It's considered invasive of wild areas on the west coast.


On Jun 27, 2015, Regality from Concord, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

During the CA drought, I am finding that Foeniculum vulgare does much better with less water than in years past, which cannot be said of most of the other plants in my garden. It is tall and lush.


On May 2, 2011, Lilac_jewel from Nelson
New Zealand wrote:

I live in the top of the South Island in New Zealand,and I often find this lovely smelling plant growing near the local rivers,so I don't need to grow it.The seeds of the Fennel plant are edible,with a sweet,minty flavour.


On May 26, 2010, debles from Tulsa, OK wrote:

I had bronze fennel growing several years ago. I'm starting a new patch this year.

It's a gorgeous plant. We use the ferny parts on fish and I always add coarsely ground fennel seed to marinara sauce.
It grew well in this climate before, so I hope to get it established again.

The leaves or seeds would probably be great in herbal tea too.


On Mar 20, 2010, tcs1366 from Leesburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Love this plant!! and it is a perennial/Bi annual in my area, zone5a. I dont care for Fennel as an herb, but it's beautiful and attracts insects and swallowtail Cats.

Easily grown by seed. If not dead-headed, you will have many 'volunteers' popping up. Going to attempt to transplant some -- hope they survive.


On Feb 10, 2009, cedar18 from Lula, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Perennial here too. Great for hosting a wide variety of winged and crawling critters. Last year mine had a king-size preying mantis that patrolled the plant. I tried moving him to other plants but he kept coming back.


On Mar 22, 2008, Sharran from Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Beautiful growing against dark red brick, great seasoning for fish, and a natural hatchery for swallotail butterflies!

I love this plant.


On Aug 4, 2007, grampapa from Wheatfield, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I am growing Florence fennel for the first time this year in my herb garden. I grew 2 plants from seed, mainly hoping to attract swallowtail butterflies to my garden. But we would also like to make our own Italian sausage, and fennel seed is a must. So I will be collecting seed for that.


On Jul 7, 2007, TaylorJanvier from Alameda, CA wrote:

I first encountered this plant when I was surveying a ginormous thicket of Himalayan blackberries along the north side of Alameda, CA (our island paradise on the San Francisco bay). It looked so alien I backed up and stared at it. Now it's sprung up wild all along the south shoreline. At least I know what to do with it. Ma, boil some water . . .


On Oct 15, 2006, Lady_fern from Jeffersonville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

Everyone says it's an annual or biennial, but mine comes back every year like a perennial! It is a larval food for the black swallowtail butterfly. Once I see caterpillars on it, I throw bird netting over the plant to protect them from the birds.

If planted in a flower bed, fennel adds an interesting effect with its frothy foliage and angular stems. Being so tall, it is definitely a background plant.

Easy from seed. Flowers are easily deadheaded to prevent self-seeding.


On May 9, 2006, clairesn from Germantown, TN wrote:

I grew green fennel in St. Louis and am now growing it in Memphis. Bronze fennel is the preferred host plant for swallowtail butterflies, and their plump yellow, white and black striped caterpillars were always a welcome sight (though the birds usually got them later). The bronze variety doesn't produce as many seeds as the green variety. The regular green variety has many seed heads. The ripe seeds are plump and green and delicious sprinkled on a caprese salad (layers of basil leaves, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese) along with a little oil and vinegar. The more aged, dried seeds look just like the stuff in the jars in the grocery store.

The bronze and green varieties were planted alongside each other in my herb garden, but did not cross-pollinate. I found seedlings for bot... read more


On May 3, 2006, dmj1218 from west Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Bronze color to leaves add winter interest--caterpillars of various species love this plant and I grow it to provide "fodder" for the cats and to lure them away from more valuable plants in the landscape. I overwinter the plant and it will often go dormat in the height of summer but will re-emerge when temperatures cool in the fall. It is a perennial here in the south.

Fennel is a hardy relative of dill, coriander, cumin, anise, carrot, and Queen Anne's lace; it grows very well in the south.
Bronze leaf fennel is probably the most difficult to grow in the south but is beautiful and well worth the effort. Most fennels grow from between 3'-5' when in bloom. Once seeds are harvested, cut the bloom stalks down to the ground and new growth comes quickly. Fennel is very dro... read more


On May 3, 2005, ladyannne from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

My mother makes the most incredible spice called "Fairy Dust" out of Fennel, it makes your mouth water for salmon. That alone makes any problems with the plant worthwhile.


On Jan 12, 2003, Doug1101 from Mount Barker WA
Australia wrote:

I live in southern Western Australia. Mediterranean climate. Have grown individual plants for up to three seasons - 200+ cm or over 6 feet. Grasshoppers don't like them. Provides preferred home for ladybirds and predatory wasps.


On Nov 19, 2002, davidwsmith from Linlithgow

I agree with all philomel says regarding both varieties and my grandchildren et al love the gorgeous aroma. Mine grow to over 6 feet and I use it regularly to stuff trout along with some lemon grass, spring onions and ginger. I steam it for 10 minutes and them brown some garlic in sunflower and sesame oil and pour it over the fish and serve. Without the fennel, 7 out of 10, with the fennel, 10 out of 10 - try it!



On Nov 19, 2002, philomel from Castelnau RB Pyrenées
France (Zone 8a) wrote:

I really enjoy this impressive herb. It makes a very good background for other plants and is extremely useful in the kitchen. In fact mine often doesn't get that far as I can't resist eating the tender new shoots on the spot. If you have more self control the fine leaves, which have a flavour akin to aniseed, make a fine accompaniment to any fish dish and can be chopped raw into salads.

It also has the advantage of being irresistable to hover flies and some other beneficial insects. If you plant some near your roses it will definitely help to keep the aphids at bay. The yellow flower heads are very attractive in a lacy sort of way and are followed by seeds that make good tea, or, if left, will be enjoyed by the birds.

An organic gardener's dream plant, except ... read more


On Nov 18, 2002, Bug_Girl from San Francisco, CA wrote:

This is a weed that will grow fast and get large so dig it out as soon as you see it. If you let it become large, it will be a lot of work to dig out.


On Aug 19, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Looks like dill, but the stems are solid and the plant smells like licorice. Clusters of yellow, umbrella-shaped flowers can reach 4 feet in height.