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Growing Good Food at Home

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Soil, Sun, and Watering Requirements for Your Fennel

Lush fennel in a garden patch

Lush fennel in a garden patch

Fennel benefits from rich, well-drained soil that has a pH of 5.5 to 6.8. Even slightly sandy soil is good for fennel. Plant in a sunny spot for best results, but not in the scorching sun.

Please remember that fennel is a Mediterranean crop. It is a short-lived, tender perennial in warmer climates but is normally grown as an annual in cooler climates. Fennel may tolerate light frosts, but will only survive over winter outdoors (assuming you didn’t harvest the bulb) in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6 to 10. In zones 2 to 5, fennel grows as a biennial and tolerates some heat and cold, but does best when it reaches maturity in cool weather.

Depending on your climate, fennel seeds may be sown in early spring, mid-spring, late summer, and early fall. Fennel grown for bulbs should not be allowed to go to seed. To get succulent bulbs, plant fennel early before the season gets too hot, harvest before the flower stems form, and provide plenty of water.

What kind of soil do you use for your fennel? Have you had any watering challenges with your fennel plants? Please tell us in the comments below.

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