Bronze fennel has become popular far beyond the licorice flavor the herb brings to dishes cooked in the kitchen. It is found in many flower garden styles and potted combinations.
Spending $2 or $3 for a pot of herbs has developed into an inexpensive strategy for adding variety to a mixed plant combination. Gardeners use small annual herbs to fill in bare spots in the garden or thrill a singular local with one large example, building a combination around.
Come to be known as bronze fennel, Foeniculum vulare, in the picture-keys of garden magazines, the tender perennial is no shrinking herb when edged against more traditional ornamental plants, whether planted in a landscape bed or potted container garden.
Mixed Plant Combinations Bedded or Potted
Beyond cooking, gardeners have learned the fragrant Mediterranean native is able to hold its own against summer ornamental plants in a flower garden. The large flat yellow blooms, feathery foliage and two-foot tall habit will contribute to the making of a pretty garden.
Whether grown with decorative or sweet pepper plants, the upright structure, full leaves and colorful fruit produced by Capsicum contrast well with plants having light wispy leaves. With the common curly parsley thrown in, all together they easily make an attractive and useful edible garden.
The foliage color of the fennel herb takes on the hue of bronzy, copper, bluish-gray silver or pale green, depending on one’s perspective and the light showing through. Annual flowers, like million bells of mixed colors- for example Calibrachoa® Dreamsicle, or a Lantana whose clusters are composed of yellows and pinks- have successfully been mixed with a specimen of fennel in many planters.
Bronze fennel belongs in a garden meant to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies or for harvesting the flowers or foliage to make bouquets. But remember, it is the caterpillar as from swallowtail butterflies, which will use it as a larval plant for food.
Whatever the purpose of the garden, the fennel plant requires full sun to thrive and produces blooms eventually composed for many seeds. Seed heads should be removed as they fade but before completely dry to save for growing the next year or to keep from scattering weed-seeds where they are not wanted.
Types of Fennel Herbs
There are a variety of fennel plants to grow. Depending on the garden’s climate, fennel will be treated as an annual or hardy perennial. The herb is measured in feet rather than inches and so requires a larger space in the garden. Fennel plants grown for its decorative appearance or to feed wildlife or to harvest the bulb for cooking requires planting the better type for that purpose.
Foeniculum ‘Purpureum’ grows in hardiness zones 4 – 9 with a deep purplish-bronze color up to 3’-5’ tall.
Fennel with lacier foliage does not form a large bulb; however, it is cut for garnish or salads.
Foeniculum vulare var. azonicum is called Florence fennel and develops a bulb-like base from overlapping leaves. The stalks taste like celery but with a mild licorice flavor and requiring a consistent watering schedule to thrive. The flowers will remind herb growers of dill.
Foeniculum Vulgare Thrives Where Planted
Foeniculum vulgare is an herb plant grown in vegetable gardens for the licorice or anise taste it brings to kitchen dishes. The bronze fennel has found favor with ornamental gardeners, who like the look of the plant against flowers, providing food for beneficial insects and recognizing how easy it is to grow.