Anise is an annual herb that can be sown in the garden about 2 weeks after the average last spring frost date . It requires a relatively long, warm growing season of about 120 days, although some varieties differ slightly. They need an average soil temperature of about 70 degrees to germinate.
Anise is a sprawling bushy bright green plant that reaches up to 2 feet in height and equally as wide. Its lower leaves are broad and lobed and the upper leaves are light and feathery. Anise petite yellowish-white flowers in midsummer, that group together in mushroom shaped clusters. It has a Sweet licorice-flavor.
Both the leaves and seeds are used , but The seeds are the most commonly used part of the anise plant. The seeds are in tiny teardrop shaped fruits called aniseed or anise stars .
Planting anise in full sun is advisable, but it is somewhat tolerant of partial shade. A well-drained soil rich in organic matter, and with a 6.0 to 6.7. Soil pH is best. Anise will grow in poorer soils, but naturally with reduced yields and quality.
Anise seeds should be sown about 1/4 inch deep. As the seedlings mature in about 5- 6 weeks they should be thinned to about a foot apart. Rows should be 1 to 1 1/2 feet apart.
It requires a steady regimen of generous water through out the growing season and particularly just prior to harvesting. Don't drown them, just be generous with the water.
So long as a proper pH is maintained , there are no special fertilization requirements for Anise. Aged compost at mid season is a recommendable, but not absolutely essential.
Good Companion Plants for Anise are Coriander, Cabbage, and grapes.
Don't plant it near to carrots, radishes or beets. Results have proven that anise will germinate more rapidly if sown near coriander.
Anise has some properties that help to repel Aphids and fleas. It is a host for beneficial predatory wasps . It deters pests from cabbage family plants by camouflaging their odor.
Anise is also said to be good in battling body lice , although this is not scientifically proven.
Anise grows easily in containers. Select a container at least 8 inches deep and wide.
Anise has no serious disease or pest problems.
Cut fresh anise leaves for use as needed. Seedlings will require more than 100 frost-free days to have harvestable seeds. Each plant should have anywhere from one to six clusters with six to 10 anise stars in each. When these have matured to a grayish brown color, they are ready for harvest. You can harvest the seed heads while they are still green, but the mature gray brown yields the best flavor. Hang them together in bunches in a warm, dry well ventilated location to dry out. For culinary use sterilize them in an oven at about 100°F for 10 - 15 minutes. Harvest should be complete before the first fall frost.
Dried anise seeds can be stored for several months in an airtight container.
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