Anise and a nice number of other annual herbs grow well in the winter garden in the Southwest. Herbs that don’t like heat, like parsley, dill, and cilantro. These herbs are in the carrot family, and that reminds me to tell you to add carrots to the list of cool season crops for our area.
Anise is tangy, and said to help digestion. Anise leaves can be used fresh in salads or as a flavoring in cooking. Leaves may be used fresh or dried for a tasty herbal tea. Seeds are harvested for culinary use and can be winnowed with a kitchen colander or strainer. There are many uses for anise, and I recommend visiting Savor the Southwest for tips on using herbs.
Anise is native to the dry rocky soils of the eastern Mediterranean, and does well in the Southwest in the winter garden.
Plant. Seeds should be planted late September to November, but it’s not too late to plant seedlings from the nursery. In its homeland, anise grows after the start of their winter rains (the only rain they get). Just be very gentle transplanting, anise is not fond of it’s roots being messed with.
Soil. Plant anise in well-drained soil. Either garden soil or in containers that are at least 18 inches deep.
Water. Keep anise evenly moist for the best flavor and highest seed production.
Light. Anise plants require at least six hours of sun, more is fine.
Fertilizer is not necessary, but if you desire ample seeds, a flowering fertilizer, high in phosphorous, helps.
Harvest. You can cut anise leaves for use as soon as plants have more than about ten on the plant. You will have to wait until it flowers and seeds form to cut off the seed heads and dry them in a large paper bag.
Want to learn more about growing herbs? Look for my free lectures at your local Pima County Library branch, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening (Cool Springs Press, $23), which also discusses growing anise and other herbs. (Note, this link is an Amazon affiliate link and clicking on it will take you to my book. If you purchase my book, I get a few pennies. Thanks.)
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