Will Fennel Grow in Shade?

A lot of space in my home garden is shady, so I wondered if fennel could survive in those conditions. This made me curious to conduct further research. Here’s what I found out.

So will fennel grow in the shade? Yes! Although it thrives in full sun, fennel can tolerate three-quarters of shade. For ideal development, the soil should be rich, moist, and well-drained, but herb fennel, like many herbs, has a knack for surviving nearly independently of circumstances.

What conditions does fennel need to grow?

The following are essential for fennel to thrive:


Grow them in a place with good, well-drained soil that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Improve your native soil by adding several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter for optimal results.


Fennel loves water, so give it plenty of moisture. Water deeply once or twice a week and keep the soil constantly moist but not soggy. Mulching can help retain some moisture in the soil. Fennel also enjoys humid conditions, so misting the leaves or setting up a humidifier nearby will benefit it.


Fennel prefers light, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. A pH between 7 and 8 is preferred. Work in aged compost or rich organic matter before planting to improve the soil.


Fennel will benefit from fertilization with an all-purpose fertilizer once a month throughout the growing season. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can cause rapid growth and reduce the flavor of the leaves.

With these tips in mind, your fennel should be able to survive and thrive even in a bit of shade.

Growing fennel for seed

Growing fennel for seed can be a great way to produce your supply of this tasty herb. Fennel grows best in full sun and well-drained soil with a pH of 7 to 8, so make sure the area you choose for planting is suitable for these conditions. 

Plant your fennel seeds directly into the ground or start them indoors in peat pots, then transplant them outdoors when they are two inches tall. Water your plants regularly to keep the soil moist, and add mulch or compost around them to help retain moisture. 

To encourage stalk growth, pinch flower buds that appear while the fennel is still young.

Harvest your fennel seed when its stalks turn brown and dry. Cut the heads from the stalks, then spread them out to dry further. 

Once completely dry, remove the seeds by rubbing the heads between your hands or grinding them in a food processor. Store your fennel seed in an airtight container and avoid direct sunlight. With some care and preparation, you can enjoy fresh-grown fennel seeds.

Growing fennel in pots

Growing fennel in pots is a great way to bring an aromatic herb into your home with minimal effort. Fennel has a delicate flavor; the greens can be used for salads or as dish garnishes. 

Planting fennel in containers gives you easy access to this fragrant herb throughout the year.

When choosing a pot for your fennel, ensure it is large enough to give the plant plenty of room to grow. 

A 12-inch wide pot with drainage holes in the bottom should be large enough for one or two plants. Fill the container with a rich planting mix and add some compost or well-rotted manure to enrich the soil.

If you’re planting fennel in the shade, give it some extra fertilizer or manure once a month. Find a location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day and keep the soil moist but not soggy for fennel plants in order to ensure their success.

How to grow fennel from cuttings

Once you have the cuttings, fill a small container with potting soil and place the fennel cutting. Make sure to regularly water the area around the cutting and keep it moist but not soaked. 

You’ll also want to ensure good air circulation around the cutting, so keep your containers manageable. Turn the container so that the fennel receives light from all sides and place it in a warm location with lots of indirect sunlight.

After your cutting has had a few weeks to root, you can transplant it into your desired location or pot. Ensure you water it regularly and provide enough space to grow. You can fertilize it once a month for optimal growth.

Growing fennel for butterflies

Growing fennel for butterflies is an easy and rewarding way to bring more beautiful creatures into your garden. Fennel provides an excellent nectar source for adult butterflies, while its foliage serves as a food source for caterpillars.

 In addition, this tall perennial plant helps to add height and structure to borders and wildlife gardens. To attract butterflies, look for varieties of fennel with the most fragrant foliage. Once you’ve planted your fennel, keeping it by cutting off any yellow or leaves and leaving some of the seed heads for overwintering butterflies is crucial. 

Water regularly during dry spells and provide shallow water for caterpillars and adult butterflies. You’llYou’ll be rewarded with an abundance of these delicate creatures! Enjoy watching them flutter about, and enjoy your fennel plants this summer. 

Fennel growing zone

Fennel can grow in shade or full sun, but it needs 6 to 8 hours of sun each day to produce good yields. Most fennel varieties will grow in USDA planting zones 4 through 11. The best planting times for fennel are spring and early summer before the heat of summer sets in. 

Choose a spot with well-draining soil, as standing water can damage a fennel plant. Mix in compost or manure before planting your fennel seeds to ensure good drainage. Fennel prefers warm soil, so wait until temperatures reach at least 65℉ (18℃) to plant your seeds. 

Plant your fennel seeds 1/4 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. Water your fennel regularly, taking care not to over-water. Fennel is ready for harvest when the bulb at the base of the stem is about the size of a lemon. 

Using a knife or garden shears, cut off the bulb and some leaves swiftly, leaving some foliage behind for the plant to regrow.

Where to plant fennel in the vegetable garden

If you have a vegetable garden, consider adding fennel to your crop. Fennel is an incredibly versatile herb that adds incredible depth and flavor to many dishes. But before you get too excited about planting it, remember some essential things.

First, fennel needs total sun exposure to thrive, so ensure it gets at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. If you have a miniature garden, plant the fennel in a corner that will get more sun.

Fennel also requires well-draining soil, so if your garden is prone to standing water, choose another spot for your fennel or add some extra soil to help with drainage. And, since fennel can get quite large, be sure to give it plenty of room to grow – about 18-24 inches between plants.

Lastly, consider planting the fennel at the edge of your garden or in a spot away from other vegetables. Fennel is known for attracting pests, so keeping it away from other products can help minimize the risk of damaging crops.

Following these simple tips, you can successfully plant fennel in your vegetable garden and enjoy its unique flavors all summer.


How much sun does fennel need?

Fennel loves the sun, so it needs to be planted in an area with 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Where is the best place to plant fennel?

The best place to plant fennel is in a sunny spot with well-draining soil that’s been amended with compost or manure.

Where not to plant fennel?

Fennel doesn’t do well in areas that are too hot or humid, so it should not be planted in a spot with limited air circulation. Avoid planting it near other vegetables that require lots of moisture, like tomatoes and cucumbers.

Up To You!

Fennel is a great plant to add to your garden, as it provides a unique flavor and can attract beneficial insects. Remember that fennel needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily and well-drained soil for best results. 

Consider planting it away from other vegetables and amend the soil with compost or manure before planting. With proper care, your fennel plants will thrive and reward you with delicious flavors all summer.


I love nature and fresh food from the garden. That's why I started this gardening journey and decided to share my experience with the world. So far it has been an amazing journey. I hope you will enjoy reading my gardening journal and never be the same again!

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