With its umbels of tiny yellow flowers and dark green or bronze wispy leaves, fennel is a decorative addition to the herbaceous border where it makes a good background plant. Be warned, however, that many other plants dislike fennel and grow poorly when forced to share space with this strong herb. Never plant fennel near coriander or dill.
Fennel will grow in most any soil, but the richer the soil, the more tender the foliage. Seeds should be sown directly in the garden in the late spring. Seedlings do not transplant well. The deep taproots are difficult to pull up, so remove unwanted seedlings while young. The plant will self-sow generously. To maintain a continuous supply of fresh leaves throughout the season, sow a few seeds every 10 days. If seeds are not desired, remove flowerheads to promote bushier growth. Fennel can be grown as an annual, although the established roots will overwinter easily. Divide roots in fall after the seeds have been harvested.
Patients affected by abdominal bloating are the main beneficiaries of herbal remedies made from the seeds of the fennel, in addition, the fennel seeds are also used to alleviate problems such as stomach pain, they are used in stimulating poor appetite in patients, the diuretic action and the anti-inflammatory properties of the seeds are also used to treat a variety of disorders affecting different individuals. Abdominal distension and unsettled digestion in the patient is also relieved using the fennel seed infusion, in this aspect, the seeds of the fennel have similar actions displayed by the anise and the caraway herbs. Cystitis can also be treated using the seeds of the fennel and these seeds are also an excellent remedy for kidney stones, especially when they are used in combination with herbal urinary antiseptics, like the uva-ursi herb. The seeds are also prepared into an herbal infusion, which has a mild expectorant action and can be used as a gargle by individuals suffering from soreness in the throat. Used either in the form of a syrup or as an infusion the fennel can also be used in the treatment of children and is considered safe even for babies, these forms of the herbal remedy can be used in the treatment of colic and painful teething in babies and to treat other types of disorders in older children. In lactating mothers, the production of breast milk can be promoted by the taking the fennel regularly. One of the most common uses of the fennel is in the treatment of conjunctivitis and as herbal eyewash to disinfect sore eyes. The fennel seeds are reputed to increase longevity in people and this belief of its ability to increase life span is a very old one, the fennel is also believed to induce weight loss in individuals as well. The sweet variety of the fennel is prized for its essential herbal oil, which promotes digestive functions and possesses relaxing powers and can be very soothing.