Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: 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)

10 vendors have this plant for sale.

41 members have or want this plant for trade.

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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

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage
Good Fall Color

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Provides winter interest
Suitable for growing in containers

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

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There are a total of 16 photos.
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13 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Lilac_jewel 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.

Positive debles 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.

Positive tcs1366 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.

Positive cedar18 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.

Positive Sharran 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.

Positive grampapa 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.

Neutral TaylorJanvier 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 . . .

Positive Lady_fern 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.

Positive clairesn 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 both kinds all over the bed over the years. Some were transplanted to better spots; others easily pulled. I have seen small birds remove parts of the new growth in early spring, possibly to line their nests with the fragrant, soft leaves.

Part of the reason I was so anxious to get the herb garden started in my new home was to get the fennel planted again. It's a wonderful part of my herb garden (formerly the back yard).

Positive dmj1218 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 drought tolerant and hardy, but a little water improves its flavor.

Fennel is the important "something" added to many sausages and is also used with fish. Fish is excellent grilled over fennel stalks with butter.Its also good in salads. The odor of fennel is warm, sweet, and fragrant. All fennels have the familiar anise flavor with varying degrees of sweetness, depending on the amount of oils present. Fennel releases its oils well in water but more freely in alchohol. This accounts for its presence in so many fine liquors.

Positive ladyannne 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.

Positive Doug1101 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.

Positive davidwsmith 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!


Positive philomel 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 that it does seed around and, being deep rooted, can be difficult to oust once a plant gets established. However it can be easily controlled when the seedlings are small and, IMO, this is a very small price to pay for all the other benefits fennel brings.

I particularly like the bronze version, which adds an air of sophistication to any border and looks very handsome teamed with pink or dark red flowers. Or come to think about it, with just about anything!

Negative Bug_Girl 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.

Neutral mystic 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.


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

Mobile, Alabama
Clovis, 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

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