Florence fennel ‘Colossal’

Family: Apiaceae

Florence fennel is a lovely vegetable that originates from Italy.  Plants produce delicious tasting, swollen leaf bases that we usually refer to as ‘bulbs’.  It’s not just the base of Florence fennel that we eat – the whole of this plant is edible; Florence fennel has gorgeous ferny leaves that can be used for herbal teas, as garnishes, or as wonderful additions to salads, soups, stir-fries, and smoothies.

‘Colossal’ is a superb variety of Florence fennel that produces good quality, large-sized bulbs, which have a great texture and flavour.  This is one of my trialled and tested varieties that I’ve grown for many years and I continue to grow, because ‘Colossal’ is a reliable cultivar that’s blessed with a degree of natural resilience to bolting.

In the UK, we can sow Florence fennel ‘Colossal’ seeds from June until the middle of July (from early summer through until late summer) in most areas of the country.  However, through my repeated Florence Fennel Trials, I’ve found that in the warmer, southern regions of the UK, I can sow ‘Colossal’ seeds from June until the end of September.  These later sowings produce a delightful blessing of smaller (but just as sweet and delicious) Florence fennel bulbs.

Sow Florence fennel seeds in the brightest, sunniest position you can muster.  These vegetables grow best when sown directly in the soil where the plants will be allowed to grow to full size – Florence fennel is not a container plant or a plant that can be moved.

Avoid wet or waterlogged soils, as this vegetable won’t succeed in these conditions.  Florence fennel thrives in sandy, silty, or well-drained soils.  However, regular watering (around three times a week in times of drought) is vital to achieve the maximum sized and best tasting Florence fennel bulbs.

One of the downsides of Florence fennel is its predisposition to bolt.  Thankfully, I’ve found that ‘Colossal’ is a resilient cultivar that is far less likely to rocket skywards than many of the other Florence fennel cultivars I’ve trialled.

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