Star anise (anise pimpinella anisum) is a spice that is widely used in South East Asian dishes, so if you've ever had some type of curry, chances are, you've tasted star anise! The name comes from its obvious star shaped appearance and smells and tastes a lot like black licorice. If you're a fan of exotic dishes, we definitely recommend growing your own star anise as it brings the most incredible aroma and taste to any dish! Today we'll be showing you to how grow star anise directly from seeds!
The star anise plant also grows beautiful white flowers, which makes is a great plant to have as a decoration as well. Star anise also goes by the following other names: Aniseed Stars, Anise de Chine, Anisi Stellati Fructus, Anis Etoile, Anis Estrellado, Bajiao, Badiana, Chinese Anise, Chinese Star Anise, Ba Jiao Hui, Eight Horned Anise, Eight Horns, and Illicium Verum.
The plant belongs to the Illiciaceae family, and it is actually a tropical evergreen tree, that grows to about 5-10m in height. The foliage is large, leafy, and white green, with white flowers that add a beautiful decorative aspect.
How to Grow Star Anise
Star anise grows best in USDA zones 8-11, but you can also try growing it indoors! The plant prefers warm weather, so it will grow best in tropical and subtropical climates.
Planting Star Anise:
- Plant star anise seeds either indoors or directly outside (as long as outdoor temperature is at least 65-70F).
- Additionally, you can also grow star anise using cuttings.
- Make sure soil is moist, and if planting in a pot, make sure the pot has good drainage. Star anise prefers well drained soil.
- You can grow star anise in pots or directly into the ground. Before planting, be sure that the temperature is at least 65-70F (18-20C).
- Water the seeds immediately and frequently.
- Add compost to the soil.
- Choose a warm, sunny location and never let your star anise plant outdoors if the temperature falls below 15C.
- If you live in a tropical climate, plant your star anise in partial shade – too much sun could burn the plant.
- Once planted, water regularly.
- Plant should always be in full sun.
- Soil should be moist at all times.
- Add about 3 inches of compost to the soil.
- If temperatures fall below 15F (-10), move the plant indoors. It will not survive in colder temperatures.
- Those that live in climates where temperatures fall below 15F, should grow anise in pots or containers so that they can be moved inside.
Harvesting Star Anise
- Star anise takes about 6 years to grow from seed to harvest.
- If you're impatient, think about purchasing a more mature plant (6 years is a long time after all!)
- Pick the fruits (they're actually fruits, not seeds) once they are green.
- Once the green fruit are picked, sun dry them to get that reddish-brown color.
It may seem like an unusually long time for star anise to grow, but it is well worth it! The amazing flavor of star anise can take any dish to different heights!