What Is Anise? (5 Key Facts About Anise Care)

If you’re looking for a plant that’s as pretty as it is useful, anise is a great contender. 

Pimpinella anisum, commonly known as Anise, is an herb that is mainly grown for its fruit, which tastes similar to licorice. Grown in zones 4-10, anise can reach a height of up to 2.5 feet tall and produces clusters of tiny white flowers. 

While raising anise plants is a fairly simple process, they can be somewhat picky about their environment. This article will give you the tips you need to make anise flourish on your property. 

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What Is Anise?

Anise, or Pimpinella anisum, is an herb native to Egypt and some eastern Mediterranean areas. Anise thrives in zones 4-10 of the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map. It’s also commonly grown in parts of Europe, Russia, the Middle East, China, Mexico, and Chile. 

anise plant 1
Anise, or Pimpinella anisum, is an herb native to Egypt and some Mediterranean areas.

Anise is widely known for the licorice flavor of its fruit, but several plants have a similar flavor profile. As a result, people often confuse Pimpinella anisum with plants like star anise, sweet anise, or anise hyssop.  Many gardeners refer to anise’s fruit, aniseed, to describe Pimpinella anisum to cut down on the misnomers. 

Aniseed has been cultivated for various uses for centuries. Today, it is used all over the world for many different things, from tea, baked goods, and candy, to medicines and perfume. The essential oil extracted from aniseed has been found to have antifungal, antioxidant, and insect-repelling properties. 

Planting Anise

Anise is fairly simple to plant and grow, providing that you set it up for success by growing it in the appropriate environment. Here are some of the most important factors:


Anise grows best in full sun. The plant will still grow with less sunlight, but may yield less fruit. 

Anise grows best in full sun.


These plants prefer well-draining soil with a pH of about 6.0 to 6.7. Although anise appreciates consistent watering, it needs to be able to dry out in between. Poor, dense soil can lead to overwatering and all of the risks that come with it, such as root rot and other diseases. 

wheelbarrow with soil
Anise prefers soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.7.


You can sow anise seeds directly into the garden as soon as the soil temperature stays above 60 degrees Fahrenheit consistently. The exact time of year will vary depending on your location, so pay attention to the forecast. 

Although many gardeners like to start their herbs, fruits, and vegetables inside prior to planting them in the garden, this is not recommended for anise plants. Pimpinella anisum does not tolerate transplanting well, so be prepared to keep it where you plant it indefinitely. 

anise seeds 2
Anise does not tolerate transplant well, so start seeds outside where you want them to grow.

Also, anise plants don’t have very strong stems, so a location that’s out of the wind or has some shelter is ideal. If necessary, you can stake the plant to keep it from blowing over.

Watering Anise

The amount of water anise needs depends on several factors, including soil type, temperature, amount of sun, and the maturity level of the plant. 

Young plants need considerably more water until their roots are firmly established. It can be tricky to achieve a good balance, however, since seedlings are fragile and more sensitive to overwatering. A good rule of thumb is to keep the top inch of soil damp, but not soaked, until the plant reaches its full, mature height. 

watering can
Younger Anise plants need more water until their roots are established.

Established anise plants are more forgiving when it comes to watering, and can even withstand short periods of drought. That said, don’t let the soil dry out more than an inch below the surface. To keep it moist for longer, you can lightly mulch the soil around the plant with compost. 

Fertilizing Anise

You won’t need to fertilize anise unless your soil is lacking in something that the plant needs. For example, you can change the pH level of your soil by using certain fertilizers, if needed.

compost bin
Aged compost should provide enough nutrients for anise to grow.

Although not necessary, you can give your anise a boost of nutrients by adding some organic compost around the plant. You can also supplement with an all-purpose fertilizer around midsummer before flowers appear.

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Pruning Anise

Anise does not need to be pruned in order to achieve a certain shape or improve its health. The only time you need to cut the plant back is when you want to harvest the aniseed or to prevent the plant from self-seeding. To do this, simply cut the stems that contain the seed heads all the way to the ground. 

anise flower 1
You do not need to prune Anise unless you want to harvest aniseed or prevent self-seeding.

You can also harvest the leaves of your anise plant, but wait until it reaches maturity. Pruning the leaves too early could stunt the plant’s growth. 

Does Anise Need To Be Pruned Every Year?

If you wish to harvest as much aniseed as possible or want to prevent the plant from propagating itself, prune back the seed heads as soon as the pods turn brown. In order to have plants that return each year, though, you will either have to plant seeds each spring or leave some of the seed heads to self-sow at the end of the growing season. 

Anise Propagation

Anise can only be propagated via seeds. Here are some tips on sowing them successfully:

  • Plan accordingly: If you only need to harvest leaves for cooking, 6 plants should be enough. To collect seeds, you’ll want to grow at least 12 plants. Taking into account that not all of the seeds will result in a plant, you should place 5 seeds in each hole. 
  • Give seeds room to grow: Seed holes should be about 18 inches apart. 
  • Thin the herd: Once your seeds sprout, thin them out so that only the healthiest seedling remains in each hole.
  • Sow seeds early: While seeds only take between 10-20 days to germinate, anise plants take 120 days to reach maturity and be ready to harvest. Plant your seeds as early as you can to ensure that your plants have enough warm, sunny weather to mature. Depending on your area’s climate, you should be able to harvest seeds in August or September. 
  • Store seeds properly: After you collect your seed heads, let them ripen in a paper bag placed somewhere warm and dry. Once they are ripe, you can keep them in an airtight container for up to 2 years.
  • Alternate methods: If you’re unsure whether you can successfully grow anise in your area, indoor containers are a great alternative. This method also allows you to control the growing environment much more easily. Make sure your container is a minimum of 8 inches deep and wide, and supplement with grow lights if you don’t have a warm, sunny window to keep it in.
Seeds are the only way to propagate Anise.

Anise Diseases & Pests (Plus Remedies)

Anise is not known for having significant pest or disease vulnerabilities. In fact, anise oil is said to repel some harmful insects while attracting pollinators, like butterflies and bees. No plant is invincible, however. Here are some problems to look out for when growing anise:


Sadly, mice are attracted to the smell of anise. The oil is even used to lure mice into traps. The good news is that they aren’t interested in the leaves. So as long as your seed heads remain upright, you shouldn’t have to worry about attracting mice.  

Mice are attracted to the smell of anise.


These pesky mollusks generally go for young plants and will snack on leaves to their heart’s content. There are several ways to get rid of slugs and snails. To gently repel them without killing them, you can purchase copper strips at your local garden store to place around your plants.

garden slug
Slugs and snails may eat anise plants.

If you’d rather eradicate them altogether, grab a flashlight when it’s dark to catch them in the act. With gloves on, inspect your plants and place any you find in a bucket of soapy water. 


These tiny insects are usually green or yellow and can be found munching on the leaves of your plants in the garden. With many plants, a strong spray stream from the garden hose is enough to clear them.

Aphids may also try to eat anise plants.

Since anise may be too delicate to withstand strong spraying, you can try a spray bottle filled with dish soap and water, making sure to cover the whole plant. 

You can learn more about how to get rid of aphids here.

Powdery Mildew 

This fungal disease can be devastating to a crop and should be treated as soon as possible, as it can spread quickly. Powdery mildew thrives in overcrowded plants that are kept moist without adequate air circulation.

If you notice a powdery substance on your plants, trim each of the affected leaves off and dispose of them immediately. A mixture of water and insecticidal soap can be sprayed over the affected plants, or a copper fungicide if that method fails. 


Anise might seem tricky to grow given its environmental needs, but once the growing space is set up, care and maintenance are fairly straightforward. And after all, trial and error come with the territory when it comes to gardening. 

You might also want to learn about coneflower, which is also known as Echinacea.

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About the author:
Kathryn is a plant enthusiast and freelance content writer who specializes in home and garden topics. Based in New York, you can get in touch with Kathryn at https://kathrynflegal.journoportfolio.com/.

Kathryn F.

Jon M

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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