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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpurescens'
Pronounced: fee-NIK-ew-lum vul-GAR-ay
Plant Group Perennial.
Hardiness Sunset zones: 2b-11, 14-24, H1, H2.
USDA zones: 4-9.
Heat zones: 9-6.
Mature size Height: 6-7 feet (1.8 m).
Width: 2 feet (.5 m).
Flowering period Mid-summer.
Flowering attributes Umbels of small yellow flowers.
Leaf attributes Ferny, feathery leaves that are bronze color when young.
Growth habit Clump-forming.
Light Full sun.
Soil Fertile, moist, well-drained soil.
Feeding Add a complete organic fertilizer when planting and in spring. A mulch of compost in fall is beneficial.
Propagation Methods Sow seed in situ in spring, or plant in pots and germinate at 68°F (20°C). Transplant to the garden when plant is young, as it has a taproot.
Pruning Methods Deadhead seed heads in fall.
Pests and Diseases Aphids and slugs may be a problem. The swallowtail caterpillar chews on the foliage. Stem and root rot can be a problem when grown in poorly drained soil.
Rainy Side Notes
Not only is this herb aromatic, its foliage is feathery and stands five feet tall or more in the garden. As a culinary herb, it has an anise taste. A few sprigs of the leaves or chopped young shoots adds a wonderful flavor to salads. It is important to deadhead the seed heads (use seed for culinary purposes) or you will spend the next few growing seasons weeding the many seedlings that will sprout. Since it is a tap-rooted herb, it can be difficult to weed.
Birds love the seed. This herb is a good butterfly and bee plant and attracts many beneficial insects. The swallowtail caterpillar will eat the foliage, but I ignore it as I encourage the butterflies in my garden, and their young ones need to eat.Fennel
Photographed in author's garden.