Skip to content.

Some features of this website require Javascript to be enabled for best usibility. Please enable Javascript to run.


Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Roman fennel, sweet anise

Latin Name: Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce

Plant Family: Apiaceae

Close Relatives: Dill, Cilantro/Coriander, Carrots, Celery, Parsley, and Anise

Uses and Markets: Culinary (e.g. young leaves used as a fresh herb and seeds used as a spice; adds a liquorice flavour); Medicinal (e.g. treatment of indigestion and infantile colic); Industrial (e.g. essential oils from the seed for confectionaries and deodorants)

A bunch of fresh sweet fennel (photo credit: Alex459, fennel beginning to flower Sweet fennel in full bloom
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Sweet fennel can be grown for its fresh leaves or as a seed spice. Production methods differ depending on the end use.

Propagation method


Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Beginning late April to late July

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

3-10 cm (fresh herb); 20-30 cm (seed production)

Between row spacing

30-40 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



 No current Ontario fertility guidelines exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions.  Research in Pakistan shows a nitrogen requirement of 90 kg/ha for seed production. Ontario fertility guidelines for parsley, a close relative, can be found in the OMAFRA Vegetable Production Recommendations Publication 363, and would be a good starting point for fresh sweet fennel.  Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well-drained soils.

Soil pH

6 - 8

Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Frost Tolerant

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation beneficial under normal Ontario conditions

Days to harvest

40-60 days (fresh herb); 100-120 days (seed spice)

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Successive Plantings, multi-cropping possible (fresh herb); single harvest (seed spice).

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest (fresh herb); machine harvest (combine) for seed spice.

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Fresh fennel is sold as bunches of young plants similar to fresh dill. Sweet fennel leaves are larger than that of dill. Harvest during cooler parts of the day to reduce moisture loss and cooling costs (fresh herb). Remove field heat as soon as possible after harvest (fresh herb). Seed spice harvest has to be carefully timed because seeds will shatter soon after maturity. Harvest as soon as seeds turn from yellow to brown. 

Post harvest
Special handling/curing


Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 85-100% (fresh herb)

Temperature: 0°C (fresh herb)

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 7-14 days (fresh herb)

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Parsley worm, leaf hopper


Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Aphids, cabbage looper, flea beetle, cutworm, beet armyworm, corn earworm

Diseases: Leaf blight, stem rot, damping-off

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: none.  This crop is in Crop Group 4: Leafy Vegetables (except Brassica Vegetables) Group and Subgroup 4B: Leaf Petioles Subgroup, when grown as a fresh herb.  When grown for its seed, this crop is in Crop Group 19: Herbs and Spices Group and Subgroup 19B: Spice Subgroup.or more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.


Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1.  Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAFRA herb demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  1. Ayub, M., Naeem, M., Nadeem, M., Tanveer, A., Tahir, M., and R. Alam. 2011. Effect of nitrogen application on growth, yield and oil contents of Fennel (Foenoculum vulgare Mill.).  Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 5: 2274-2277.
  2. Cantwell, Marita. 2001. Properties and Recommended Conditions for the Long Term Storage of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. University of California, Davis.
  3. Kowalchik, C. and W. H. Hylton. 1998. Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Rodale Press, Emaus PA.
  4. Purdue University. 1993. Fennel: A New Specialty Vegetable.
  5. Purdue University. 2013. Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers 2013: herbs.
  6. Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984. Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
  7. Small, E. 2006. Culinary herbs, 2nd Edition. NRC Research Press, Ottawa.