Growing and Saving the Seed Of Fennel

Latin name Foeniculum vulgare is a short-lived perennial in the carrot family that is often grown as an annual. This pollinator-friendly vegetable plant grows like dill. Used in Italian cooking, you can grow it for the engorged swollen stems or for the frilly leaves. Perennial from USDA zones 6-10 but can be grown as an annual in almost all zones.



A native to Mediterranean Europe, fennel was used by Roman herbalist Pliny the Elder to treat over 22 ailments. Fennel seed has historically been utilized as an appetite suppressant, and frequently nibbled on during periods of religious fasting.


  • Fennel has many culinary uses.
  • Traditional medicinal uses
  • Attracts pollinators




  • Seeds will germinate in 7-10 days.
  • They can be direct sown or transplanted. (Be aware that the long taproot dislikes disturbance, so don't let them become root bound!)
  • Surface sow seeds and cover with 1/8-1/4 inch soil.
  • Ideal germination temperature is 68-85 F.


  • Fennel prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Sow 2 inches apart, and thin seedlings to 6-8 inches apart.


  • There are no significant pests of fennel.
  • If you choose to grow fennel for its large, swollen stems, be sure to choose the Florence variety. When the bulb is about the size of a golf ball, blanch the stems by hilling up the soil around the bulb.


  • Fennel requires 1/2 mile isolation from other fennel varieties or dill, otherwise it will become cross pollinated!
  • If you do not have space to isolate, try a bagging or caging technique and hand pollinate.
  • Collecting seeds is easy: simply allow seed heads to turn brown and dry, then cut the stalks and place in a paper bag and shake the seeds free.
  • Store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.