Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum'
Common Name: fennel
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Apiaceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Herb, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Easily grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun. May be grown from seed that is sown directly in the garden in spring. Freely self-seeds in the garden. Remove spent flowering stems before seed is produced to avoid any unwanted self-seeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Foeniculum vulgare (common fennel) is an upright, branching perennial that is typically grown in vegetable and herb gardens for its anise-flavored foliage and seeds, both of which are commonly harvested for use in cooking. 'Purpureum' is an ornamental cultivar that is noted for its attractive purple-bronze foliage. It typically grows in an upright mound to 3-5’ (less frequently to 6’) tall with a spread of 2-3'. Feathery, compound, aromatic, purple-bronze leaves with needle-like segments are attractive in the garden. Tiny yellow flowers in large, flattened, compound umbels bloom in mid- to late summer. Flowers are followed by aromatic fennel seeds. Flowers are very attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. Fennel is a larval plant for certain swallowtail butterflies.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Stem and root rot may occur, especially in poorly-drained soils. Watch for aphids and slugs. Larvae (caterpillars) of swallowtail butterflies may chew on the foliage

Garden Uses

Borders, vegetable gardens, herb gardens, cottage gardens or meadows. Good plant for a butterfly garden. Seeds may be harvested for use as flavoring in a variety of foods such as bakery products or sausages. Chopped leaves may be used as flavoring for eggs, breads, salads, potatoes, chicken, pork and fish.