How To Grow Fennel in Australia

Quick Guide: Growing Fennel in Australia

  • Optimal Growing Temperatures: Between 10°C and 25°C.
  • Ready to Harvest: 14-15 weeks after planting.
  • Space Between Plants: Thin to 30 cm.
  • Companion Plants: None.
  • Plants to Avoid: Best grown away from vegetables.
  • Plant Type: Seed.

When to Plant Fennel in Australia

Australia Map


Best planting months for Fennel in the Tropical regions are March to June. This includes areas like Cairns, Darwin, and Broome.

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For the Subtropical region, Fennel can be planted from July to August. Cities in the Subtropical region include Brisbane, Central Coast, and Sydney.

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Fennel can be planted from January to April and August to December in the Temperate regions of Australia. Cities in the Temperate region include Melbourne, Adelaide, Geelong, and Perth.

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For the Cool region, Fennel can be planted from September to November. Cities in the Cool region include alpine regions of Victoria and Tasmania.

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It is not recommended to plant fennel in the Arid region.

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Getting Started with Fennel

If you're interested in growing fennel in Australia, it's important to start off on the right foot. In this section, I'll share some insights on understanding fennel and choosing the right variety for successful cultivation.

Understanding Fennel

Fennel, scientifically known as Foeniculum vulgare, is a versatile herb with a distinct anise-like aroma and flavour. It is native to the Mediterranean region but can be grown in various climates, including Australia.

Fennel is a hardy perennial that can reach a height of up to 1.5 meters. It features feathery, fern-like foliage and produces umbrella-shaped clusters of yellow flowers. The plant is prized for its aromatic bulbs, fronds, and seeds, all of which have culinary and medicinal uses.

Aside from its culinary value, fennel also attracts beneficial insects to your garden, making it an excellent addition to an organic garden. The plant is known to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which can contribute to a healthy ecosystem in your backyard.

Choosing the Right Variety

When it comes to choosing the right variety of fennel, there are a few options to consider. The two main types are bulb fennel and herb fennel.

Bulb fennel is cultivated primarily for its swollen, bulbous base, which is harvested and used in various culinary dishes. The bulb has a crisp texture and a sweet, liquorice-like flavour. Popular bulb fennel varieties include 'Florence', 'Finale', and 'Orion'.

Herb fennel, also known as bronze fennel, does not produce a bulb but instead focuses on foliage growth. It is primarily grown for its delicate, aromatic leaves, which can be used in salads, soups, or as a garnish. Herb fennel varieties include 'Purpureum' and 'Rubrum'.

When choosing a variety, consider your preferences and intended use for fennel. If you're interested in harvesting bulb fennel for culinary purposes, opt for a bulb fennel variety. On the other hand, if you're primarily interested in the foliage, herb fennel might be the better choice.

Now that we have a good understanding of fennel and the different varieties available, we can move on to the next steps in growing fennel in Australia. Stay tuned for the sections on preparing the soil, planting fennel, and caring for fennel to ensure a successful fennel-growing journey.

Preparing the Soil

Before you start planting fennel, it's essential to prepare the soil to create the ideal growing conditions for this aromatic herb. Proper soil preparation ensures that your fennel plants receive the necessary nutrients and have good drainage, resulting in healthy growth and abundant harvests.

Soil Requirements for Fennel

Fennel thrives in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Here are the key soil requirements for growing fennel:

  1. pH level: Fennel prefers a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. You can test the soil pH using a soil testing kit available at your local garden centre.
  2. Texture: The soil should have a loose and friable texture, allowing for proper root development and good drainage. Sandy loam or loamy soil is ideal for fennel.
  3. Organic matter: Incorporating organic matter into the soil improves its fertility and moisture retention. Add well-rotted compost or aged manure to enrich the soil before planting.

Soil Preparation Tips

Follow these soil preparation tips to create a favourable environment for your fennel plants:

  1. Clear the area: Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting area. Weeds can compete with fennel for nutrients and water, so it's important to eliminate them before planting.
  2. Loosen the soil: Use a garden fork or a tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of about 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm). This helps to improve aeration and root penetration.
  3. Amend the soil: Incorporate organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, into the soil. Spread a layer of organic matter over the planting area and mix it thoroughly with the existing soil.
  4. Level the soil: Smooth out the soil surface using a rake to create a level planting bed. This ensures even water distribution and prevents waterlogging.
  5. Mulch the soil: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the base of the fennel plants. Mulching helps to retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature.

By following these soil preparation steps, you can provide your fennel plants with the optimal growing conditions they need to thrive. Remember to test the soil pH periodically and make any necessary adjustments to maintain the ideal pH range. For more information on growing vegetables and herbs in Australia, check out our comprehensive guides on how to grow lettuce, how to grow amaranth, and how to grow borage

Planting Fennel

When it comes to planting fennel, timing is crucial to ensure successful growth. In this section, I will share with you the best time to plant fennel and some planting techniques to help you get started.

When to Plant Fennel

Fennel is a cool-season herb that thrives in moderate climates. In Australia, the ideal time to plant fennel is during the cooler months, typically in autumn or early spring. By planting at the right time, you can take advantage of the optimal growing conditions and allow fennel to establish itself before the heat of summer.

To determine the specific planting dates for your region, it's recommended to consult a local gardening guide or use online resources that provide region-specific planting calendars. These resources can provide valuable insights into the best times to sow fennel seeds or transplant seedlings based on your location.

Planting Techniques

When it comes to planting fennel, there are two primary methods: sowing seeds directly into the ground or transplanting seedlings.

Sowing Seeds: If you choose to sow fennel seeds directly into the garden, prepare the soil by loosening it with a garden fork or tiller. Remove any weeds or debris and ensure the soil is well-draining. Sow the seeds at a depth of around 1/4 to 1/2 inch (6-12 mm) and space them about 12 inches (30 cm) apart. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate, which usually takes about 10-14 days.

Transplanting Seedlings: Another option is to start fennel seeds indoors in seed trays or pots and transplant the seedlings once they have grown a few inches tall. This method allows for better control over the germination process and ensures a higher rate of success. When the seedlings have developed a few sets of true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into the garden. Dig holes in the prepared soil, spacing them about 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart, and carefully place the seedlings in the holes. Gently firm the soil around the base of the seedlings and water thoroughly.

Regardless of the planting method you choose, it's important to provide fennel with enough space to grow and ensure it receives adequate sunlight. Fennel plants prefer full sun exposure, which means they need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive.

Now that you know when and how to plant fennel, it's time to move on to the next stage of fennel cultivation: caring for your plants. In the next section, I will share essential tips for watering, fertilising, and managing pests and diseases to ensure the health and vitality of your fennel crop. Stay tuned!

If you are interested in learning how to grow other vegetables and herbs in Australia, check out our detailed A-Z guides with plants that you can grow in Australia. 

Caring for Fennel

Once you have successfully planted fennel in your garden, it's important to provide the proper care to ensure its growth and health. This section will cover the essential aspects of caring for fennel, including watering needs, fertilising fennel, and managing pests and diseases.

Watering Needs

Fennel has moderate water requirements and prefers moist but well-draining soil. It's important to keep the soil consistently moist, especially during dry periods, to promote healthy growth. However, overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues, so it's crucial to strike the right balance.

To determine when to water your fennel, check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger about an inch deep. If the soil feels dry at this depth, it's time to water your plants. It's generally recommended to provide about 1 inch of water per week, either through rainfall or irrigation. However, adjust the frequency and amount of water based on the weather conditions and the moisture retention of your soil.

Fertilising Fennel

Fennel is a relatively low-maintenance plant when it comes to fertilization. Before planting, it's beneficial to incorporate well-rotted compost or organic matter into the soil to provide essential nutrients. This helps to create a fertile soil environment for your fennel plants.

During the growing season, you can provide additional nourishment to your fennel by applying a balanced organic fertiliser. This can be done every 4-6 weeks to ensure a steady supply of nutrients. Alternatively, you can use a slow-release organic fertiliser at the beginning of the season, following the package instructions for application rates.

Remember, it's important not to over-fertilize fennel, as excessive nitrogen can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of bulb development. Always follow the recommended dosage and avoid using synthetic fertilisers that can harm the environment.

Managing Pests and Diseases

Fennel is generally resistant to most pests and diseases. However, there are a few common issues to watch out for and address promptly to keep your plants healthy.

Pests: Aphids, slugs, and snails can occasionally be problematic for fennel. To control aphids, you can use a strong spray of water or apply insecticidal soap. Handpicking slugs and snails can help manage their population. If the infestation is severe, you may consider using organic pest control methods specific to each pest.

Diseases: Fennel is susceptible to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot. To prevent these diseases, ensure proper air circulation around the plants by providing adequate spacing. Avoid overhead watering, as this can promote fungal growth. If necessary, treat fungal diseases with organic fungicides as per the instructions on the product label.

Regularly inspect your fennel plants for any signs of pests or diseases, and take appropriate action to address the issues promptly. This will help ensure the overall health and productivity of your fennel plants.

With proper care and attention to watering, fertilising, and pest management, you can enjoy a thriving fennel garden. Soon, you'll be able to harvest the flavorful bulbs and enjoy the culinary delights they offer. To learn more about harvesting and using fennel, continue reading the next section on harvesting and using fennel.

Harvesting and Using Fennel

After putting in the effort to grow fennel in Australia, it's time to reap the rewards of your hard work. In this section, I will share insights on harvesting fennel bulbs, using fennel in cooking, and saving seeds for future planting.

Harvesting Fennel Bulbs

Once your fennel plants have matured, it's time to harvest the flavorful bulbs. Fennel bulbs are typically ready for harvest when they reach a size of around 3-4 inches in diameter. To ensure the best flavour and texture, harvest the bulbs before they become too large or woody.

To harvest fennel bulbs, gently loosen the soil around the base of the plant using a garden fork or trowel. Carefully lift the plant from the soil, taking care not to damage the root system. Trim off the green fronds near the top of the bulb, leaving about 1-2 inches intact. Rinse the bulbs thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.

Saving Seeds for Future Planting

If you want to continue growing fennel in the future, saving the seeds is a cost-effective and sustainable option. Fennel plants produce beautiful yellow flowers that eventually develop into seed heads. Allow the seed heads to fully mature and dry out on the plant.

To collect the seeds, gently shake the dried seed heads over a clean, dry container or paper bag. Separate the seeds from any remaining plant matter or debris. Store the seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dark place until you are ready to plant them again.

By harvesting the fennel bulbs at the right time and using fennel in your culinary adventures, you can fully enjoy the flavours and benefits of this versatile herb. Don't forget to save some seeds for future planting, ensuring that your journey with fennel can continue year after year. 


If you wan to know more about planting and growing plants and herbs in Australia, you can visit our A-Z Growing Guides!

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