Anise is a herb that has been cultivated for many years. It has a variety of uses, including as a spice.
Anise has been cultivated for 4000 years, beginning in ancient Egypt. Its popularity then spread throughout Europe, leaving a legacy of aniseed flavor wherever it was grown. Anise does not come from the licorice plant, but it tastes and smells very similar to it.
King Edward I taxed anise in the 14th century to pay for repairs on London Bridge because it was in high demand as a spice, medicine, and perfume.
Anise is still popular because it has pretty white flowers and a strong aniseed flavor. Next we’ll tell you how to grow this spicy addition to your garden.
All About The Anise Plant
Anise Comes from the carrot family Apiaceae, just like parsnip, celery, coriander, and fennel. The herb anise is also commonly known as aniseed. The name aniseed is derived from the seed of the herb, which is mainly grown for its essential oil. Anise is a plant that is native to the eastern Mediterranean region, which includes countries such as Egypt, Turkey, and Greece.
There are two types of people when it comes to this flavor – those who love it and those who hate it. It has a strong flavor similar to licorice that is highly aromatic and sweet. There is nothing subtle about it. Anise is widely cultivated for its aromatic seeds, but the leaves and root can also be consumed, providing a subtle aniseed flavor to salads, stews, curries, and casseroles.
Pimpinella anisum and Foeniculum vulgare are often confused with one another, but Pimpinella anisum is not invasive. Foeniculum vulgare, on the other hand, has become a nuisance in many countries where it grows wild. Anise grows well in containers and enhances the growth of other plants.
You should start planting anise as soon as possible so that the seeds have enough time to ripen before the weather gets too cold. Anise, like most plants in the carrot family, has a deep taproot that does not take well to transplanting. To get the best results, sow anise seeds in drilled rows in the spring after the last frost date.
Seedlings will need to be slowly acclimatized to outdoor temperatures over the course of a week. Do not plant your frost-sensitive plants outdoors until there is no longer any risk of frost.
Anise is a delicate plant that becomes top-heavy when seed heads form and may require support. Anise should be planted in full sun in a sheltered spot in the garden, away from strong, cold winds. Choose a large, deep, heavy pot to grow anise in if using containers. This will accommodate the taproot and prevent the pot from blowing over.
Caring For Anise
Caring for anise is pretty straightforward. Follow our tips below and you won’t go wrong.
Sun and Temperature
Anise should be grown in full sun, with at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. If you live in a warm climate, your plants will appreciate some shade during the hottest part of the day to prevent their delicate leaves and stems from getting scorched. If the temperature is very high, the plant’s leaves will droop and it will lose moisture. If the temperature is low, the plant’s seeds will not mature and the plant will die. Container-grown plants can be moved inside in colder weather.
Water and Humidity
Young anise plants require frequent watering until established. Keep soil moist but never wet. It is best to allow the soil to dry out between watering for mature plants to perform better, as they grow best in drier, well-drained soil conditions. You should water your container-grown plants more often than plants that are grown in the ground, as they will dry out more quickly. Water your plants at the ground level in the morning, using a timed soaker hose or watering cans. Anise should be watered in the afternoon on very hot days if the plant is starting to overheat.
Anise can grow in poor quality soil. For the best results, choose a type of soil that drains well, like a light sandy loam. 5 The pH of the soil that anise grows in should be slightly acid, with a pH of 6.5, to alkaline, with a pH of 8.5.
Fertilizer may not be needed unless the anise is growing in very poor soil conditions and the plants seem to be getting worse. An organic mulch that is good will help improve the soil by adding nutrients and being able to hold in moisture. To give your plants a boost, you can give them a nitrogen-rich liquid feed or a good seaweed feed. This is especially helpful at the start of the season when you plant anise outside.
No regular pruning is necessary to maintain the shape or encourage growth of anise. At the end of the growing season, cut the seed heads back to ground level to harvest them. This will also prevent plants from self-seeding.
Seeds of anise can be planted indoors or outdoors.
Anise does not do well when transplanted because of its taproot. To get the best results, sow anise seeds in the spring after there is no more risk of frost. Sow the seeds directly into prepared drills that are half an inch deep and 1.5 feet apart. To sow the seeds, space them about 1 inch apart. Cover the seeds with soil and then water them. Germination can take up to 14 days outdoors. Seedlings should be thinned out so that they are 6-8 inches apart. The area should be kept watered and free of weeds until the plants are established.
Starting your seeds indoors in the spring, a few weeks before the last frost, is the best way to ensure a bountiful harvest. Sow your seeds directly into large peat/coir pots or pellets to make transplanting a breeze. This will help the plant to not go into transplant shock and will help to not damage the roots when planting. Alternatively, sow anise seeds into tall 3.5 to 4 inch (9-10cm) plastic pots. Nip out the weaker seedling and plant out or pot on as soon as roots are visible through the bottom holes. It will take 10-12 days for the seeds to germinate at 68ºF (20ºC). You should gradually get your seedlings ready for outdoor conditions by placing them outside for part of the day and bringing them in at night for a week before planting them. Place them in a sunny, sheltered spot. When there is no more risk of frost, plant the anise seedlings in their final positions.
- Plants need well-drained, loose, rich soil.
- Side dress with compost in the early summer.
- Keep soil evenly moist when plants are young.
Managing Pests and Disease
Anise is a multi-purpose plant. It shields plants from certain pests like spider mites and cabbage worms. This flower also helps out other insects by attracting bees, moths, and butterflies that eat pests.
Some studies suggest that anise may help to keep nematodes away from plants, making it a helpful plant to have around other plants that are vulnerable to these harmful pests.
While most herbivores tend to ignore the fragrant anise herb, mice seem to really enjoy it.
Although this herb may deter many pests, it does not seem to have the same effect on mice. The little rodents are attracted to the smell. The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests that you can attract mice by rubbing anise oil on the cheese in a mousetrap. The birds go for the seeds rather than the leaves, so as long as you keep the seed heads off the ground and harvest your seeds when they’re ready, you shouldn’t have to worry much. Make sure to dry the seeds thoroughly and store them in a place where mice cannot access them.
Insects can damage your plants and also spread diseases throughout your garden. You should try to avoid infestations when possible, and if one does occur, get rid of it as soon as you can.
Aphids are really annoying, not because they cause a lot of damage, but because they are so common. Aphids are attracted to anise plants, so farmers will often plant them as a way to lure aphids away from other crops.
The most common aphid found on anise plants is the willow-carrot aphid. This particular pest enjoys dining on plants from the Apiaceae family, such as carrots and parsnips.
The larvae of several different types of moths are known as cutworms. There are three common types of anise: Agrotis spp., Peridroma saucia, and Nephelodes minians. They all have a curled up “c” shape when prodded.
One or two-inch worms that chew through plant stems during the night can cause the plants to topple over. If you see one of them during the day, they are most likely hiding in dead leaves or other garden debris. You can grab it and crush it or drown it in soapy water. The soil around plants should be tilled every few days during the spring. The best way to keep these worms from getting to the stems is to put up a barrier.
Cutting a toilet paper roll down its length will allow you to open it. Put this around the stem of your anise plant, sinking the base an inch into the soil. Make sure to close the roll completely. By the time this decays into the ground, the season for cutworms is usually over. Provided the barrier remains intact until late spring, you will be safe.
Slugs and Snails
Some people believe that slugs and snails stay away from plants that have a strong smell, like anise. Don’t listen to this. Slug and snails will devour young plants.
Although Anise is generally a healthy plant, there are a few problems that you may come across while growing it.
Most gardeners will encounter downy mildew at some point since it is so prevalent. It’s caused by oomycetes in the Peronosporaceae family. The plant may have yellow or white patches on the top of its leaves, and a cotton-like growth on the underside. Foliage may eventually turn brown and die. It favors moist conditions and cool temps below 65°F. The first step to improving the indoor air quality is to improve the circulation. This means that you should plant the anise at an appropriate distance apart and prune back the leaves if they start to crowd together.
Water your plant at the soil level to ensure that the roots receive moisture. If possible, it’s best to water your plants in the morning rather than later in the day. Try not to get the foliage wet when you water.
Adding a neem oil spray to your routine, such as Bonide All Seasons Horticultural and Dormant Spray Oil, or using a product with hydrogen peroxide once a week can help keep the problem under control.
Powdery mildew is another common issue. This disease is caused by the fungus Erisyphe heraclei on anise and does best in warm, dry climates. The leaves of your herbs will be covered in a powdery substance called powdery mildew and the foliage may eventually turn yellow and become distorted. To prevent this from happening, don’t over fertilize and water at the root level.
Cut away any leaves that are infected and keep the air flowing by planting the appropriate distance apart and trimming away any foliage that is too close together.
Harvest the leaves at any time. Make sure you don’t remove all the foliage or you won’t get strong seed heads. The leaves don’t last long, so use them immediately.
When the seeds have developed and turned from green to gray, cut the seed heads. Tie the vegetables in bundles and insert them into a large paper bag with air holes punched in the sides. Let the seeds dry and fall into the bag. If you wait a week or more after the flowers have died, you’ll need to shake the heads a little to knock the remaining seeds free.
You might want to leave a few flowerheads on the plant so that the plant will produce seeds that will grow new plants next year.
After harvesting the seeds, toast them by tossing them in a dry pan on the stovetop on medium heat. Shake or stir the pan frequently for about five minutes to keep the seeds moving. Now they’re ready to use in your recipes. To store the nuts, either toast them or leave them raw. Place them in a sealed jar in a cool, dark spot and they will last up to a year. Although you can toast seeds to give them a nutty flavor, doing so will prevent them from being able to germinate new plants.
The chia plant is grown for its seeds, which are used as a food ingredient, as well as its leaves, which have a more subtle flavor than the seeds. The plant has many uses in the kitchen and has also been shown to keep pests away.
Why aren’t more people planting this useful herb in their gardens?