Anise (Pimpinella anisum), also called aniseed, is a flowering plant in the Apiaceae (parsley) family. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean area and southwest Asia. Anise is an herbaceous annual plant with feathery leaves and white flowers which bloom in the summer. Flowers are produced in thick umbels. These umbels contain small brown seeds that have a strong licorice flavor. The seed is the part of the plant that is typically used. The leaves are used sometimes in soups and salads.
Anise, with its licorice taste, can be used whole or ground to flavor many foods as well as aid in the digestion of many types of foods. Anise is used in baked items from savory to sweet, to stewed or baked fruits, to vegetables. Aniseed tea is said to help with colds and influenza. Anise is also used to flavor teas, cough drops, and liqueurs.
Growing the Herb Anise
The seedlings are soft and fragile and therefore do not transplant well. It is best to sow directly into the ground or containers in full sun. Anise is spindly and fragile in nature therefore, it needs protection from the wind. Anise can be planted in poor soil if the soil is prepared properly. Break up to obtain a light well-draining soil. Add a little lime if the soil is too acid. Only add fertilizer if the soil is extremely poor. Prepare the soil bed to be seed bed ready. Sow in spring and again in autumn (in temperate zones), ½-inch deep, 12-inches apart. Cover seeds with soil and pack down. Keep moist until seedlings appear. Water when dry, preferably early morning or late afternoon. Otherwise you may scorch the plants.
When the umbels ( flowerheads) are full with fully developed brown seeds, cut off the heads before they fall off. Store in a dry place. Anise can be placed in direct sunlight to dry up any remaining moisture. When the seed heads are completely dry, remove husks and flowerheads. Store in airtight containers. Seeds used for culinary, medicinal or cosmetic purposes, can last many years if stored properly. For propagating purposes, you’ll want to use the seed within a year.
Anise Growing Cultures
Anise can be planted in deep containers or sown directly into the ground in spring after danger of frost has past. It does not transplant well.
Anise Plant Height
Anise grows between 1-1/2 and 3 feet tall (45cm – 90cm).
Anise Plant Spacing
Anise should be planted 12 inches (30cm) apart.
Anise Preferred pH Range
Anise will grow satisfactorily in a relatively narrow pH range between 5.5 (acidic) and 6.5 (mildly acidic) with an ideal pH of 6.0.
From seed. Direct sow outdoors in spring after danger of frost has past and/or Fall (in temperate climates) in light well-drained soil.
Anise Seed Germination Period
Anise seeds will germinate in soil in approximately 14 days when the soil temperature is at 70 degrees F, or 21 degrees C.
Anise Number of Seeds per Gram
There are approximately 220 anise seeds per gram.
Anise Soil Requirements
Anise prefers poor, light, well-drained soil. Fertilizer is not required unless the soil is extremely poor.
Anise Alternative Growing Media
Soilless potting mixes (Pro-Mix, Sunshine Mix, etc.), perlite, vermiculite, rockwool, coco peat, Oasis Rootcubes.
Anise Sun & Lighting Requirements
Anise grown outdoors prefers full sun while being protected from wind.
Anise will grow indoors satisfactorily under standard T12 or T8 fluorescent lamps, and exceptionally well under high output T5 fluorescent grow lights, compact fluorescent, or high intensity discharge (metal halide or high pressure sodium) plant growing lights.
Keep standard fluorescent lamps between 2 and 4 inches from the tops of the plants, high output and compact fluorescents approximately one foot above the plants, and HID lights between 2 and 4 feet above the plants, depending on wattage.
Have an oscillating fan gently stir seedlings for at least 2 hours per day to stimulate a more compact, and sturdier plant habit.
Anise USDA Hardiness
Annual. Not applicable.
Anise Water Requirements
Keep moist until seedlings appear. Once established, allow soil to go completely dry in between waterings.
Anise Potential Plant Pests and Diseases
Anise is susceptible to the larvae of some Lepidoptera species (butterflies and moths), lime-speck pug and wormwood pug.
Anise Special Notes
Anise is attractive to predatory wasps and repels aphids. It is advised against growing basil, carrots or rue near anise.