You are in for a real treat with this gourmet, but often overlooked, garden wonder. Also called Florence fennel, the white, crisp bulbous stem base has a delicious, anise flavor and can be eaten raw, used to flavor soups and pasta, deep-fried, or sautèed. Feathery foliage is attractive in the garden and is an excellent fresh garnish to fish and chicken. Seed can also be harvested as a spice. Sow in the fall for best success.
Botanical Name: Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum
Native: Africa, Asia, and Europe
Hardiness: Perennial in USDA zones 4–9; grown as an annual.
Plant Dimensions: Foliage from 2'–4' tall; the “bulb”, 3″–4″ diameter at the base
Variety Information: The crunchy, dense, licorice-flavored “bulb” is comprised of tightly layered, overlapping, swollen stalk ends. The feathery foliage looks similar to dill, but has a delicate, anise flavor. The seeds also taste similar to anise or licorice. 'Perfection' is a florence type fennel.
Exposure: Full sun
When to Sow Outside: “For “bulb”: Midsummer for fall harvest is optimal; ideal soil temperature is 60°–75°F. In cool summer areas (under 75°F): 1 to 2 weeks after average last frost. Mild Climates: Sow in fall for cool season harvest. For foliage only: Every 3 weeks after average last frost until midsummer.
When to Start Inside: 4 to 6 weeks before average last frost (recommended for spring “bulb” production). Use biodegradable pots for transplant.
Days to Emerge: 7–14 days
Seed Depth: ¼”
Seed Spacing: A group of 3 seeds every 10″
Row Spacing: 10″
Thinning: When 1″ tall, thin to 1 every 10″
Harvesting: BULBOUS STEM BASE: Harvest any time after the base begins to fatten, and before plant begins to bolt. Cut just below the soil surface. LEAVES: Can be clipped for fresh use almost any time after plant becomes established. SEEDS: Harvest seeds when they turn from yellow green to grey green. If allowed to turn brown, they may fall to the ground before you can harvest them.
This packet sows up to 17 feet. 60 seeds.