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Our Herb Garden > Fennel Companions

Fennel Companions

Growing Fennel

(tips on growing fennel in your garden)

Neighbor's beautiful fennel plant. Isn't it pretty against her stone wall.
Neighbor’s beautiful fennel plant. Isn’t it pretty against her stone wall.

Fennel’s strong aroma and flavor make it a garden favorite. Unfortunately, those same attributes make it a poor companion plant; or does it?

Fennel companion planting options are thought to be limited and many strongly recommend to any gardener who is considering adding fennel to their garden to be mindful of what plants do not do well when planted near fennel. Be sure to also check out our guides on growing fennel and companion planting with herbs.

Fennel Companion Planting

Conventional wisdom tells us that fennel is a highly aromatic and slightly odd plant that is pretty much a poor companion plant for everything.

Fennel companion planting is thought to only work when growing dill. However, even dill might be a poor choice because the two herbs tend to cross-pollinate.

Is fennel truly a bad companion plant?

I’ve begun to wonder if fennel’s reputation as a bad companion plant is based on Internet rumors rather than fact. We’ve all seen it. Once one person (who may or may not be worth listening too) proclaims something, others repeat those claims and it suddenly becomes accepted as fact. With fennel and companion planting, I may have fallen victim to that as well. We’ve not grown fennel, yet. Therefore, this article was fully researched rather than fully experienced.

This fennel companion planting article has become much more informative thanks to several of our visitors and I truly thank them for that. A number of you have contradicted the conventional wisdom that companion planting fennel is a recipe for disaster. Instead, they report fennel makes a wonderful companion plant. We’ve not had one comment that tells a tale of woe from the results of fennel being a bad neighbor to other plants.

I suspect, like with so much else in gardening, there are often too many factors to say ‘this always works’ or ‘this will not work’ for certainty. After reading the experiences of Colby and other herb gardeners; and since fennel has the reputation as a great insect repellant (the bad guys) and attracts the good insects, I would give it a try and see how it goes.

Fennel & Insects.

Fennel Flower being polinated by a parasitoid wasp
Fennel Flower being polinated by a parasitoid wasp

Fennel attracts a variety of beneficial insects including ladybugs, syrphid flies, tachninid flies, beneficial parasitoid wasps and hoverflies and other beneficial predator insects to your garden. Aphids are said to find fennel exceptionally offensive and are strongly repelled by it.

Fennel as a flea repellant.

Fennel is a strong repellent for fleas. An old gardening mantra suggested to “plant fennel near your kennel” to protect your pooch from fleas. Dried fennel leaves will provide additional flea deterrence when put inside the dog house or kennel.

Additional Fennel Information

(Fæniculum officinale, All.)

To learn more about growing fennel be sure to check out our fennel fact sheet. And to find out how fennel was used during medieval times to prevent ghosts from entering dwellings and other historical and modern uses for fennel, read our article on fennel history and uses.

17 thoughts on “Fennel Companions”

  1. Everywhere I look this up, I read that fennel is not compatible with other vegetables and herbs, and can hinder their growth. I have never found this true. I grow a very mixed garden, and have always planted fennel wherever I have the space, whether next to beans, onions, beets, kale, etc. I have never had any sort of problem at all…in fact, if anything, the plants near the fennel seem to fare a little better when up against the pests that come. And my plants, the fennel and whatever company it keeps, grow large and robust. I have been doing this with the same results for over 11 years. 🙂

    1. I’ve never grown fennel. Being honest, this article was fully researched; not fully experienced. I’m appreciative (despite the hideously long time I took to respond) that you shared your experience with growing fennel. Seems like the fennel may be a great pest deterrent for the very reasons so many are proclaiming it to be a poor companion plant.

    2. Thank you for this! I just received some fennel seeds and I’ve never grown it, and I’ve also had a horrible time fighting vine borer moths on squash (I got a total of two squash from about 15 plants in the last three years). I am planting fennel in my squash patch this year; it’s not like it’s going to be anything worse than zero harvest!

      1. Oh my goodness. 2 squash from 15 plants? You must have really well-fed borers. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that the fennel helps. And, please let us know if it works for you.

      2. Good luck! I’d love to know if this works for your squash! I’m not planting it this year because SVB is the devil! Lol I’ve bought fennel for the first time – I’m anxious to see how it does!

    3. found your article very interesting. I love fennel and want to grow it but most articles say very little just frustrating. Glad you have had such good luck

  2. I too have read only negative posts about fennel as companion plants. I find it very discouraging to grow this lovely plant as I don’t believe in mono culture. This year I will follow your experience and inter plant fennel as space allows. Thank you for giving this plant a chance in your garden.

  3. I also have grown fennel, mostly for its beauty and fragrance. I have grown it beside tomatoes and peppers and have never had negative experiences. It is lovely, and a great fill in in the flower garden.

  4. I have also grown fennel, for the first time, in a spare spot in my garden. I had a bed of rainbow chard, broccoli & cauliflower & garlic on one side and a bed of snow peas on the other. Everything has thrived! Now that it’s spring, I have my hops plants coming to life under the fennel and even passionflower. My thoughts are, it’s fragrant/pungent aroma has kept bugs away. I will try growing it closer to my cabbages next season as they didn’t fare well with bugs this year!

    1. I have to admit that I’ve not grown fennel. Unfortunately, I have had to rely on other gardeners for information on this lovely, aromatic plant. I can’t help but wonder if it’s gotten a bad rep that it might not deserve. Thank you for sharing your experience growing fennel! Seems like the best strategy (like so many in gardening) is trial and error.

  5. I’m taking the advise of the peanut gallery here! My first 50×60 garden will have fennel by the grapes, tomatoes, butternuts, and in the pumpkin patch!

  6. My fennel plants thrive and attract the Black-swallowtaiil caterpillars. They reseed so easily, too.

    I love the licorice taste of the plant. Fennel sautéed with mustard seeds, white wine, honey, and broth are delicious.

    1. Thank you for adding to the conversation. A no vote for companion planting fennel with bell peppers. Hopefully, the collards and greens will do better.

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