Florence Fennel ‘Zefa Fino’

Family: Apiaceae

Florence Fennel ‘Zefa Fino’ is a superb Florence Fennel cultivar.  This is an easy to grow Florence Fennel variety that produces tasty, swollen leaf bases or ‘bulbs’.  ‘Zefa Fino’ produces medium to large-sized fennel bulbs that have a sweet, aniseed flavour.  The bulbs, stems and leaves are all edible; Florence Fennel can be eaten raw or cooked and used in a wide range of dishes.

Across the UK, we can sow ‘Zefa Fino’ seeds from the start of June to the end of July.  However, in my Florence Fennel Trials, I’ve found that in the warmer areas of the country, Florence Fennel ‘Zefa Fino’ seeds can be sown from June until the end of August and up until the end of September.

Choose the sunniest position for growing Florence Fennel.  Plants will grow in very light shade, but the best plants are grown in the sunniest areas.  Florence Fennel ‘Zefa Fino’ thrives in sandy and silty, free-draining soils.  Avoid sowing Florence Fennel seeds in wet or waterlogged soils, as this vegetable won’t succeed in these conditions.  These vegetables grow best when sown directly in the soil, where the plants must be left and allowed to grow to full size.  Florence fennel is not a container plant and this is not a vegetable that can be moved or transplanted.

Regular watering (around three times a week in times of drought) is absolutely vital to achieve the maximum sized and best tasting Florence fennel bulbs.  A free-draining soil, the brightest sunniest location, and frequent, regular watering is the key to growing Florence Fennel ‘Zefa Fino’ successfully.

The next most important thing to remember is that Florence Fennel is a vegetable that’s very prone to bolting (when the plants rocket upwards, as they switch from productive growth, into flower and seed production).  Once Florence Fennel has bolted, these vegetables instantly become incredibly tough and woody, and totally inedible.  The sizes of Florence Fennel bulbs vary from one variety to another and they’ll also alter given different growing conditions.  This vegetable doesn’t always produce as large bulbs as you expect; it’s far better to harvest smaller bulbs with an excellent flavour and texture than to continue waiting for your Florence Fennel bulbs to achieve a larger size that they are not capable of, as while you wait they will just bolt!  Having said that, ‘Zefa Fino’ does offer some resistance to bolting, it will almost pause its growth to give you a moment to harvest before it bolts.

Florence Fennel ‘Zefa Fino’ has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in recognition of this plant’s ability to succeed given ideal growing conditions.

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