How to Grow Fennel: 10 Easy Steps

Have you ever been interested in learning How to Grow Fennel, but thought it was too hard?

Have you tried growing Fennel, but didn’t get the results you wanted?

Or have you been searching for instructions on How to Grow Fennel, but have been overwhelmed by all the information out there?

growing fennel

Well, I have great news!

I have created How to Grow Fennel: 10 Easy Steps to help you with growing, caring, harvesting, storing, and using Fennel!


Choose 2 Types of Fennel Types (Step #1)

1. Annual Fennel

Annual Fennel

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Annual Fennel bulbs are also called finocchio and only come up and can be used once.

This type of fennel has a crisp, anise flavor and is actually considered a vegetable.

Also, most gardeners will plant this fennel in the spring and then again in the fall.

It should be noted that it takes about 80 days from the time you sow your seeds for it to be ready for harvest.

2. Perennial Fennel

Perennial Fennel

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Perennial Fennel is a herb that is grown in hardy zone 4.

There are several varieties of Perennial Fennel that range from the foliage of green to purple to bronze.

Perennial Fennel is grown specifically for its seeds that are grown for spices and medicine.

It should be noted that if you do not prune and harvest it frequently, perennial fennel will can weedy and overgrown.

Purchase the BEST Garden Supplies (Steps #2-5)

gardening tools

2. Purchase the Right Seed

When learning how to grow fennel from seed the seed itself is the most important supply.

While vegetables typically have numerous types of seeds like organic, heirloom, GMO, etc. fennel plants typically grow from your traditional seed or organic.

Whether you purchase organic seeds or traditional seeds you will have the same results. There is no benefit to your health and your harvest will be no different.

What is important is where you purchase your fennel seeds from.

If you want seeds that come from reputable companies at a reasonable price and with quick delivery then you want to purchase them from Amazon.

3. Buy 2 Types of Containers

Once you purchase your seeds you will need at least 1 type of pot to start your fennel and two types of pots if you want to garden all year.

I typically don’t recommend planting your seeds directly into the soil because disease, pests, and mother nature will damage or destroy too many of them.

Instead, I recommend starting off your seed in 3-inch pots. My suggestion is GrowKo Peat Pots.

Next, you’ll want a much larger pot if you do not plan on transplanting your fennel into a garden.

The reason for this is that 3 inch pots are great for seeds and starting small plants, but cannot sustain the root growth needed for fennel leaf growth.

I recommend Viagrow 5 Gallon Nursery Pot.

4. Buy These Garden Tools!

While containers and seeds are the only two essential tools you need when learning how to grow fennel from seed there are other garden tools that will make your life easy.

Of the most basic, but handiest garden supplies to have is a good sprayer.

You want to use a good sprayer because hoses and cups will flood your seed rendering it useless.

I recommend Tolco Spray Bottle 8 oz.

In addition, it is also great to have good garden utensils to help minimize dirt and disorganization.

If you want one of the best gardening tool sets then I recommend Vremi 9 piece tool set.

And finally, you can’t grow fennel seeds inside without a good grow light. If you have access to a warm sunny area for at least 8 hours a day you won’t need a grow light.

Most of us don’t have access to that much sunlight during the winter. And sometimes even if we do a grow light is just more effective for the best results.

I specifically recommend: Hydrofarm Grow Light

5. Buy Soil & Fertilizer

Just because you have the best seeds and a pot to start your fennel doesn’t mean you’ll have success.

You want to make sure you have the correct soil and good fertilizer.

If you do not have the proper soil your seed will not fully grow and bare leaves. And while you can survive without fertilizer, a good mixture will help you get the most out of your fennel plant.

While there are lots of soil you can buy, we will want to focus on the only one you need, potting mix.

Very simply, this soil will contain the right mixture of soil, sand, and nutrients needed for your Fennel seeds to grow healthy.

I am highly recommendingMiracle-Gro Potting Mix.

I am recommending this type of soil for a couple of reasons.

Everything you need to start seeds and provide your fennel with the correct nutrients can be found in this soil.

And if you decide you want to transplant your fennel plant to another pot you will not need to purchase a different type of soil.

In addition, you want to make sure you have a good fertilizer to help your fennel grow as large and fruitful as possible.

I use and recommend: Miracle-Gro Plant Food

Why I like this type of fertilizer is that it provides everything your fennel plant needs. And you won’t have to worry about the type of mixture to use or how to use it.

Best of all is that this type of fertilizer can be used on all your vegetable and herb plants!

How to Start Seeds Indoors (Step #6)

growing fennel 2

When learning how to grow fennel from seed you should almost always start your process indoors.

Part 1

You will want to start your fennel seeds inside approximately 8 weeks before you plan on moving your fennel into your garden or moving your larger container.

You want to first start by filling your 3 inches pot 80% full with your potting mix.

Next, you will want to spray the soil immediately after 5-10 times. You want the soil to be damp, but not soaked. You will know the soil is damp when it turns a dark brown color.

Part 2

Next, use the tip of a pencil and make a circular motion to form a tiny hole. This will be approximately 1/8 inch deep.

Then place 2 to 3 seeds into the hole and brush the soil over the seeds.

You will then spray the soil again 5 to 8 times. Moisten, but do not dampen the soil.

Part 3

After planting your seeds place your pots in direct sunlight or under your grow light. Your seeds will need approximately 8 hours of sunlight.

If you put your seeds under the grow light keep it approximately 4 inches from the bulb. Anything closer will burn the seeds. Anything further away with not provides enough heat and light.

You will also need to make sure the room temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

If the air temperature does not stay around this temperature then your seeds will not germinate or pop through the soil.

If you don’t have an area that will stay consistently around 70 degrees, I would recommend investing in a Plant Heating Mat.

A Plant Heating Mat is the perfect way to keep your pots and seeds at a consistent temperature that we may not otherwise be able to. The best part about a heat mat is you just plug it in and you are all set.

Part 4

After your initial planting, you will need to spray the soil once to twice a day. You will know it’s time to spray if the soil looks a light brown color or feels dry to the touch.

It will take approximately 14 days for your seeds to germinate or pop through the soil. Do not worry if it takes a few days later as each growing situation is different.

Part 5

Continue spraying your fennel (as referred to step 4) over the next 4 weeks.

Once your fennel reaches 3 inches tall you will either want to move them into your larger containers or move them outside.

If you move your fennel plants into a larger container you can continue to water them twice a day until they are ready to be harvested.

You should only move your fennel plants outside if the temperature is above freezing.

While fennel plants are cold hardy plants, consistent frost will kill them.

You can view your hardy zone below to determine your first and last frost date of the year.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

When transplanting your fennel plant into a garden you will want to dig a hole that is the size of your fennel plant root ball (where the roots meet the soil). Next, cover it with soil and water it for 30 seconds.

You will want to make sure your holes are 12 to 18 inches apart from each other too.

Immediately after transplanting your fennel plant place a cloche over it to protect it from pests and predators.

If you learn better watching a video then I recommend watching the below youtube tutorial:

How to Care for Fennel (Step #7)

Below are tips for caring for your Fennel throughout the summer:

  • Healthy Soil & Fertilizer – Inspect your soil for fungus, pests, and weeds before you plant and throughout the summer.  Remove as needed. Fennel grows best in Raised Garden Beds.
  • Insects.  Specifically Aphids. They will destroy your fennel in one day!!! If you don’t want beetles ruining all your hard work I recommend purchasing Sevin Bug Killer.
  • Water. Water once a week when planted outside. Too much water will not kill your fennel but will stunt its growth.
  • Harvest Often & Early: One of the best ways to care for your fennel is to harvest it often and early. This will help your fennel to continue to grow and become healthier
  • Pruning: If you plant perennial fennel then prune it to the ground to encourage it to grow again during the next season.

How to Harvest Fennel (Step #8)

harvested fennel

Below are critical tips to remember when harvesting fennel:

  • Harvest your fennel bulbs once they become 2 inches from one end to the other.
  • Harvest your fennel bulbs in late spring before the weather gets extremely warm.
  • After you harvest your fennel bulbs, you can wash them, cut them into smaller pieces, and store them in a plastic bag in your fridge for several weeks.

How to Store Fennel (Step #9)

There is nothing better than fresh fennel. And the best part is that you can harvest your fennel only when needing it, giving you the freshest fennel!

But what happens if you have too much fennel?

How do you store it?

The place way to store your fennel is to wash them, cut them in little pieces, place them in a plastic bag where you remove all oxygen (by pressing on the bag after the leaves are inside), and storing them in your fridge.

If you plan on using the fennel leaves within the next 24 hours you can also repeat the same process as above and leave them in a cool dark space in your house.

If you want to use your fennel in the future (1 week or longer after harvesting) then you can repeat the same process as above and store them in your freezer.

Best Fennel Use Ideas (Step #10)

fennel uses

So planting, caring, and harvesting fennel plants is fun, but using fennel is the best part!

Below, are a few of the uses of fennel that are both easy and most enjoyable:

  • Health: Eating fennel has been known to help digestive problems, heartburn, colic in infants, and can sometimes help prevent sunburn.
  • Food: There are so many different uses, but if you want to learn my favorite ways to use fresh fennel then check out: Food Network


After reading this article you should now have a much better idea on How to Grow Fennel from seeds and how to have the greatest chance for success.

If you want to have the most success, I recommend these 10 SIMPLE Tips:

  1. Use one of the 2 recommended types of Fennel for the best chance of success
  2. Buy the Correct Seeds. Organic or traditional doesn’t matter as much as where you purchase them from
  3. Buy two different types of containers to help allow your fennel to grow to its fullest potential
  4. Garden tools aren’t essential, but they will make gardening easier!
  5. The correct soil and fertilizer can turn your fennel from good to great
  6. There are only 5 simple steps for starting your seed in a pot and this should take less than 10 minutes
  7. Proper care for your fennel will allow you to get the most harvest
  8. Always harvest your fennel early and often to prevent overgrowth and bad taste.
  9. Fennel can be stored in cool, dark places, the fridge, or even the freezer
  10. There are many great uses for fennel. Don’t be afraid to try different recipes.

If you enjoyed this article then please read my other articles:

How to Grow Lavender from Seed

How to Grow Tomatoes from Seed

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