Florence Fennel ‘Perfection’

Family: Apiaceae

Florence fennel ‘Perfection’ is an aptly-named cultivar, that I would heartily recommend as as this variety produces large sized bulbs with an excellent flavour.  Florence fennel produces 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 as garnishes or as wonderful additions to salads, soups, stir-fries, herbal teas, and smoothies.

In the UK, we can sow Florence fennel ‘Perfection’ seeds from June until the end of July (from early summer through until late summer) in most areas of the country.  However, I’ve found that in the warmer, southern regions of the UK, I can sow ‘Perfection’ seeds from June until the end of September for an autumn harvest.  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 or transplanted.

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 ‘Perfection’ is a resilient cultivar that is far less likely to rocket skywards than many of the other Florence fennel cultivars I’ve trialled; however it’s important to harvest Florence fennel before it attains its full size.

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