Fennel, Heirloom Bronze, Kitchen & Butterfly Herb by Renee's Garden
Heirloom Butterfly Herbs: Smokey Bronze Fennel
Striking 4 to 5 foot plumes of filigreed coppery leaves and lacy golden flower umbels that ripen mellow anise-flavored seeds. Smokey Bronze Fennel makes a stunning addition to flower or herb beds and is a major nectar & pollen host for many butterfly and beneficial insect species. Season seafood, salads or cooked vegetables with the feathery copper-bronze leaves. Tea made from the aromatic leaves or sweet seeds soothes upset stomachs and calms the nerves.
TO PLANT DIRECTLY IN THE GARDEN
In spring when danger of hard frost is past, sow seeds 1 inch apart in finely worked, well drained, fertile soil in full sun. Cover 1/2 inch deep, firm soil and keep seed bed moist. Germination takes 2 to 3 weeks. After seedlings are well established, carefully thin or transplant 1 foot apart to allow plants room to mature.
TO START EARLY INDOORS
Sow thinly in a container of seed starting mix, 4 to 6 weeks before last expected frost. Keep warm and evenly moist, and provide a good light source. When seedlings are 3 to 4 inches tall, acclimate gradually to outdoor conditions before carefully transplanting as above.
Plant in very well-drained soil and keep a close eye on young seedlings, which grow slowly at first – their unusual bronze color can make them easy to weed out by accident! A prime butterfly plant, the copper-bronze fronds of Smokey Bronze fennel send up tall branching stalks crowned by intricate yellow flowers that provide valuable nectar and pollen to ladybugs, lacewings and other beneficial insects. Bronze fennel’s deep colored foliage provides a beautiful contrast to the green foliage and bright hot colors of summer annuals like cosmos, zinnias and sunflowers.