How To Grow Anise – Learn More About The Anise Plant

How To Grow Anise – Learn More About The Anise Plant

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

One of the strongest flavors available in nature is anise. Anise plant (Pimpinella anisum) is a Southern European and Mediterranean herb with a flavor reminiscent of licorice. The plant is attractive with lacy leaves and a profusion of white flowers and grows as a bushy ornamental herb. Growing anise in the herb garden provides a ready source of the seed for curries, baking and flavoring liqueurs.

What is Anise Plant?

Anise flowers are born in umbels like Queen Anne’s Lace. The seeds are the useful part of the plant and resemble caraway or carrot seeds. It’s easy to grow anise and the feathery leaves are borne on slightly purple stems. The plant, which grows just under 2 feet (60 cm.) tall, requires a warm growing season of at least 120 days.

Anise is widely cultivated in many European and Asian countries but has not been an important crop in the United States. Due to its delightful appearance and fragrance, there are now many gardeners who grow anise.

Growing Anise

Anise requires a fairly alkaline soil pH of 6.3 to 7.0. Anise plants need full sun and well-drained soil. Directly sow the seed into a prepared seed bed that is free of weeds, roots, and other debris. Growing anise needs regular water until the plants are established and then can tolerate periods of drought.

Anise plant may be harvested in August to September when the flowers go to seed. Save the seed heads in a paper bag until they dry enough for the seed to fall out of the old flowers. Keep the seeds in a cool dark location until spring sowing.

How to Plant Anise

Growing anise is an easy gardening project and can provide seed for a multitude of uses.

Anise seeds are small and are easier to sow with a seed syringe for indoor planting or mixed in sand for outside planting. Temperature of the soil is an important consideration for how to plant anise. Soil should be workable and 60 F./15 C. for best germination. Space the seeds in rows 2 to 3 feet (1 m.) apart at a rate of 12 seeds per foot (30 cm.). Plant the seed ½ inch (1.25 cm.) deep in well cultivated soils.

Water the plants after emergence twice a week until they are 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm.) high and then gradually reduce irrigation. Apply a nitrogen fertilizer prior to flowering in June to July.

Anise Uses

Anise is an herb with culinary and medicinal properties. It is a digestive aid and to help respiratory illness. Its numerous uses in food and beverage span a wide range of international cuisines. The eastern European communities have used it widely in liqueurs such as Anisette.

The seeds, once crushed, yield an aromatic oil that is used in soaps, perfume and potpourris. Dry the seeds for future use in cooking and store them in a glass container with a tightly sealed lid. The many uses of the herb provide an excellent incentive to grow anise plant.

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Planting Anise Seed

Soils need to be above 70°F to germinate in about 14 days. Clear garden bed of weeds, roots, and other pieces of debris before direct sowing. Soil needs to have adequate drainage but not too sandy or gravely. Keep the area moist for best aniseed germination. The anise herb requires regular watering, but be sure to check soil with your fingers for moisture. Water consciously--if the soil is adequately moist, hold off on watering until soil has dried a bit. When the anise seedlings poke through the soil, thin as necessary to prevent overcrowding. Opt for outdoor container gardening as anise does well in large terra cotta pots and/or any other decent-sized container.

Growing Anise Herb

When growing anise from seed, be aware of when the first frost will occur in your area that year. Plant after that date. Pay attention to the changing of the season and gauge when soil temperatures will reach 65-70°F for a precise planting date. If a frost does happen after you've planted, there still is a good chance that it will grow. The anise herb seedling is susceptible to cold, but the plant has been known to survive sudden bouts of cold. Keep soil moist until anise has taken root and begins build its stem. At that point, allow soil to dry out just a bit before watering again. Anise does not like over watering and can withstand instances of heat and dryness. Some anise stems can start off pretty weak as well, so, consider staking leggy seedlings as you see fit.

The growing anise herb is known for having little problems with pests. Some suggest that the flavor of the anise oil (anethole) in the herb plant is an insect repellant of sorts. With that said, there is one pest that can be a problem but it is rare. The larva of a type of small brown moth called the Wormwood Pug will feed on the underside of the leaves of the herb. A medium to strong jet of water can remove these pests.

Anise Container Gardening

Similar to garden mustard, parsley, and dill, culinary anise produces a taproot which allows for the herb to quickly establish itself with a weed-like hardiness. Generally, most crops with taproots (i.e. carrot, Daikon, parsnip) do not perform well in pots or container but are best sown in loose, well-tiled garden beds so as not to obstruct root development. However, the anise taproot is not as robust and deep as mustard or carrot, and can thrive just as vigorously in a container up on the patio or porch in full sun. Be sure the container is at least 12” deep to accommodate for the anise taproot. If growing in a container, allow soil to dry between waterings to minimize mold and rot. Container gardening is useful for anise because the plant can be moved about in the garden to serve as a fragrant and all-natural insect repellent.

Harvesting Anise Leaves

Unlike fennel, anise is not commonly grown for its greens, although younger shoots may be somewhat tender while still boasting the same familiar sweet licorice taste. After the seed harvest, anise greens are an ideal crop to be mowed down and used for livestock foraging and grazing. If interested in anise greens for culinary use, snip no more than 60% of the herb's total leaves to allow further growth. Typically, if anise greens are consumed at all it is only in trace amounts, such as dried and brewed in a tea. Simply snip the flowering heads (umbel) at the base of the bloom with a knife or shears.

Harvesting and Saving Anise Seed

Herb seeds are always harvested at the end of the growing season after the blooms have withered and all that remains on the umbel (flowering heads) are heavily seeded pods. Anise seed is similarly harvested like other umbellifer herbs (Apiaceae) such as dill , fennel , chervil , and parsley and generally have two similar but different approaches to collecting seed and ridding it of its flaky husk (chaff).

1. Like every other herb, anise seeds are easiest to harvest at the end of the season after the plant has gone to seed out in the garden. Simply snip off the dry seeded umbel heads leaving a few inches of stem to remain on the heads to make shaking out seeds easier. For smaller harvests, heads may be placed in a paper sack and shaken vigorously to release seeds. For larger harvests, shake and manually extract seeds over a bin, allowing both seeds and fibrous husk (chaff) to collect.

2. Anise Seeds may also be collected earlier in the season while flowers are still in bloom and seeds are underdeveloped. White flowering umbel heads may be snipped from the plant just as if it were early fall, but left to cure and dry upside down in a cool, dry, and properly ventilated space.

3. Whether aniseed is harvested at the end of the season or clipped earlier in the summer and left to dry, the seeds will need to be separated from the dry pile of fibrous chaff which they are now mixed. The easiest way to separate seed from husk is to simply pour all the harvested seed into a larger bin, preferably outside, to allow airflow to whisk away the chaff. Anise seed is heavy enough to fall directly into the bin, while the fibrous husk is light enough to be carried away with the breeze.

Once anise seed is harvested and separated from the chaff, seeds can be safely stored in a cool dry place for sowing next year or, for culinary use, place in a food dehydrator or in the oven for an hour at about 175°F and stored in an airtight jar once cooled.

Anise Pests and Insects

As a member of the always fragrant Apiaceae family, anise herb is often cultivated in the garden as part of natural and beneficial insectaries. Much like other herbaceous annuals in the Apiaceae family such as angelica, dill, and fennel, pests are generally repelled by the herb’s piquant and aromatic oils. And similar to calendula and mint, garden anise emits highly pungent chemicals known as terpenes found in many plants which serve as an all-natural pest control, often sold as organically concentrated insecticide. Due to its broad and accessible “umbrella-like” blooms, many species of Apiaceae like anise have been found to be ideal gathering spots for beneficial insects and pollinators that feed on smaller, more harmful pests such as aphids, mites, and thrips. Anise is a well-known crop for hosting beneficial ladybugs, tachinid flies, and the always aphid-hungry parasitic wasp.

Anise Companion Planting

Anise is one of the most desired companion plants in the garden because of its natural ability to both repel harmful insects while attracting beneficial ones. Culinary herbs belonging to the Apiaceae family are widely grown as companion plants directly alongside summer crops for their pungent oils, fragrance, and terpenes which are known to create an inhospitable environment for smaller, more harmful insects. The licorice-scented aromatics from the anise plant and other similar Apiaceae crops are also believed to help mask the presence of more vulnerable Brassicas, leafy greens, and vegetable crops from predatory insects. Although the anise plant thrives in pots and containers, grow anise directly in the garden for optimal pest control. If allowed to grow in the garden bed, the natural and organic insecticide terpenes of the anise plant will enrich the surrounding soil to help bolster overall pest management. Members of the Apiaceae family such as dill, rue, and carrot should never be sown near each other, as their genetic similarities may cause cross-pollination, spoiling the flavor and productivity of these related species.

Anise Troubleshooting

Although culinary garden anise is not susceptible to too many pests and insects, plants may be simply sprayed with a light stream of water to remove any possible infestation. Plants are susceptible to fungal diseases from oversaturation in poorly drained and ventilated gardens. As mentioned, allow soil to dry between waterings to help alleviate oversaturation. Always water soil directly at the root base to avoid wetting foliage, causing possible fungal development that could lead to alternaria blight, powdery mildew, algae-based downy mildew, and rust. Both fungal-based and algae-based diseases require water to thrive, so reduce watering and allow soil and foliage to thoroughly dry for recovery. Anise may also benefit from a systemic fungicide should proper drying and ventilation not treat the fungal disease. Remove any plants from the garden whose leaves are quickly browning and spotting from the aggressive fungal blight.

Anise Seed and Herb Benefits

Like many culinary herbs, anise has been cultivated for thousands of years for its countless purported medicinal and therapeutic benefits. While aniseed is dense in essential vitamins and nutrients, its robust and fragrant flavor keeps it from being consumed in large quantities like flax , chia , or quinoa . Aniseed has widely been used as a homeopathic remedy for alleviating such maladies as asthma, insomniac, epilepsy, indigestion, and various types of inflammation. Since then, concentrated anise oil, or essential oil, has become the standard by which medicinal and homeopathic anise is used today. Anise oil is popularly sold as a topical anti-inflammatory able to boast both fungicidal and antimicrobial properties. Benefits may be enjoyed through essential oils, eating the seed raw, or harvesting leaves for a cinnamon anise green tea.

Anise vs Star Anise vs Fennel

Despite sharing similar names and flavor, the shrubby annual herb Anise (Pimpinella anisum) and the perennial magnolia-like tree Star Anise (Illicium verum) are completely different species, yet are constantly confused for each other despite the seeds looking very different. Anise seeds share a very similar soft and flakey appearance to other weedy members of the Apiaceae family such as dill and caraway, while Star Anise seeds are firmer and form in woody star-shaped pods, always eight seeds per pod. When cooking, anise and star anise may be used interchangeably, despite star anise having the more pungent, bitter, and prominent flavor of the two seeds. Anise is often used raw while star anise must be ground due to its larger size.

Like anise and star anise, culinary fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is another licorice-tasting seed that is also confused with these two crops, despite being a completely unrelated species. Fennel may be substituted in the kitchen for anise and star anise but, like aniseed, fennel seeds are prepared and eaten raw whereas the larger star anise must be ground. One of the fundamental differences between the three species is the edibility of their plant greens. Fennel is a versatile herb crop able to be consumed entirely from the bulb, stem, greens, to the seeds whereas the anise plant is almost always grown exclusively for seed, with no other portion of the plant being harvested. Star anise matures into a 25-foot tall evergreen tree similar to magnolia that, like anise plant, is grown solely for seed harvest.

The cultivation of anise

You can get your seeds of this interesting spicy plant by growing anise in the garden. He will be a regular garden soil, not like only heavy clay and sandy soils.

Sow anise early in the spring as soon as the earth will allow to process it well. On a bed do furrows or lines with distance between them not less than 50 see Seeds sow in furrows surely in damp soil: for germination of anise it is necessary a lot of moisture.

Anise in the garden

Germinate seeds for a long time (as in all umbrella). To accelerate this process, before sowing, they can be soaked for two days, periodically rinsing under running water. Better yet, soak the seeds in the refrigerator for about two weeks before sowing.

Predecessors for anise can be legumes and greens. In no case should it be sown after other celery, such as fennel, cilantro, dill.


As the anise flowers fade, seeds kind of their place. Source: Julio Martinez

Start sowing anise as quickly as attainable to supply sufficient heat, frost-free days to make sure seeds ripen in time for harvest. As with most carrot household vegetation, anise has a faucet root that doesn’t transplant nicely. For greatest outcomes, sow anise straight into ready drills in spring after the final frost date. Thin seedlings to 6-8 inches aside and 1.5 toes (45cms) between rows protecting the world watered and weed-free till vegetation are established.

Seeds can be began indoors in early spring 6 – 8 weeks earlier than the final frost, sowing straight into massive peat/coir pots or pellets which assist restrict transplant shock and injury to the roots when planting within the floor. Anise seeds take 10-12 days to germinate at 68ºF (20ºC). Seedlings will have to be hardened off progressively for round every week to acclimatize them to outside temperatures. Plant into their closing positions when there isn’t any longer any threat of frost.

Anise is a fragile plant that may develop into top-heavy when seed heads kind and will require assist. Plant anise in a sheltered spot within the backyard in full solar and protected against sturdy, chilly winds. If rising anise in containers, select a big, deep, heavy pot that can accommodate the taproot and gained’t blow over.

How to Grow

With seeds, divisions, or stem cuttings, you are ready to introduce A. foeniculum to the garden.

Choose a full sun location in your garden. Part shade is acceptable, particularly in warmer climates.

Do not cultivate near black walnut trees, as A. foeniculum does not tolerate juglone toxicity.

The soil should have a slightly acidic to neutral pH of 6.0 to 7.0. It can range from organically rich to poor, provided it is well draining.

If you are not sure of your soil’s pH, you can conduct a soil test through your local agricultural extension.

Before planting, work the soil to a crumbly consistency. If you are working with dense or clay soil, loosen it by working in a layer of builder’s sand.

If you need to increase acidity, you can add leaf mulch or compost. These soil amendments will also help to improve drainage.

If you direct-sow seeds, moisten the soil and press them gently into the top of the soil, but do not cover them. Keep the soil evenly moist during germination.

To transplant seedlings, wait until they have two sets of true leaves and all danger of frost has passed, and then harden them off. To do this, set them outside in a sheltered spot for a few hours each day, increasing the time spent outdoor gradually over the course of a week.

After hardening off, transplant seedlings to the garden and keep them evenly moist while they become established.

Transplant stem cuttings when they show signs of new growth. Keep them evenly moist while they make the transition and begin to settle in.

Remember that wilting during periods of transition is to be expected, and this is usually brief.

Once established, water as needed to keep the soil from completely drying out, but not so often as to oversaturate it.

Home Farm Herbery

How to Grow Anise from Seed and Why You Should Grow It©

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is an annual that can grow up to 2 feet tall. This herb, which can be used for medicinal and culinary purposes, with its clusters of white flowers, can add ornamental value to a garden as well. Anise seeds can be used to flavor soups, cakes, candies and curries. Native to Egypt and the Mediterranean region, anise can be grown in California and areas of the United States within USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. Growing anise from seed is best done in permanent containers or directly in the garden, because the herb doesn't transplant well.

1. Select a pot with drainage holes and fill it with moist, sterile potting mix, up to about 3/4 inch from the top. Press down on the soil with your hand to level the surface.

2. Sprinkle six to eight anise seeds over the soil surface, at an equal distance from each other. Cover the seeds with a 1/4-inch layer of soil. Lightly tamp the soil with your hand to firm it over the anise seeds.

3. Water the soil with a spray bottle to avoid disturbing the shallowly planted seeds. Stretch plastic wrap over the pot to help the soil retain moisture. Cover the plastic wrap with sheets of newspaper to maintain a constant soil temperature. Keep the soil moist -- not soggy -- during the germination period.

4. Position the pot in a warm room. Aim for a temperature of about 60 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Expect the seeds to germinate within two weeks.

5. Remove the plastic wrap and newspaper as soon as the seeds germinate. Expose the seedlings to sunlight and a temperature of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Remove weak, small seedlings as soon as they're large enough to handle. Keep no more than one or two strong seedlings in the pot, and water them regularly to keep the soil damp as they grow. You can move the pots outside into a sunny location when all danger of frost has passed.

Things You Will Need

Sow seeds outdoors in a sunny location, after the last frost date in your area. Plant them in well-drained soil with a pH between 6.3 and 7.3. Sow the seeds in rows that are 2 feet apart, at a depth of about 1/4 inch. Thin them to 8 inches apart.

Harvest anise seeds about one month after the plant flowers. Harvest the leaves as needed, while the plant matures.

Anise can be used as a tea or syrup to aid in the relief from cough and congestion. Try a simple tea made from crushed seeds after a large meal - you will be surprised at how effective it can be.

Known Medicinal Properties: Anise has a long history of medicinal use. It is still used all over the world as a digestive-aid and anti-flatulence agent. Anise has also been used for centuries relieve coughs and colds. In fact, scientists have even proven that the essential oils in the Anise seeds DO have expectorant properties.

Anise is a digestive-aid, anti-flatulence agent and fights coughs and colds.

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