Fennel, Swallowtail, Kitchen Herb and Butterfly Flower by Renee's Garden
Butterfly Flowers: Swallowtail Fennel
Handsome, ornamental plants with 4-5 foot feathery plumes of filigreed blue-green, copper-tipped leaves and lacy, golden flower umbels. A stunning addition to flower beds and a major nectar and pollen host for many butterflies (especially Swallowtails) and beneficial insect species. The aromatic, sweetly anise scented leaves are delicious in salads and make a lovely, soothing tea. The pretty flowers are lovely in bouquets; their edible golden pollen is a gourmet seasoning that upscale chefs love to use.
USDA zone 5-9
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 1/2 feet 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. Seedlings grow slowly at first; watch out for them closely as their bronze color makes them easy weed out by accident.
The branching feathery fronds crowned by intricate yellow flowers provide valuable nectar and pollen to a wide range of butterflies, ladybugs, lacewings and other beneficial insects. Colorful blue-green, and copper-bronze foliage is a beautiful contrast with the green foliage and bright colors of summer annuals.