Star Anise is a tree native to Mongolia. It is famous for being used in many international cuisines. This tree is unique in flavor and shape. It is distinguished by its star-shaped fruits that has a smell and taste similar to the black licorice. This tree is versatile and can be used to flavor dishes or decorate gardens. Besides, learning how to grow star Anise is easy.
Although many gardens believe that Star Anise is a delicate plant, in fact, it is not. It is an extremely sturdy and adaptable plant. You can grow it in full sun or partial shade and it also tolerates dry and moist soil. This tree prefers warmth and heat but it can tolerate certain degrees of cold but not frost. If the temperature falls below 15F, your plant will die. Therefore, If you live in the north, you should avoid growing this tree.
Star Anise is very popular in Asia in general and China in particular. If you have ever ordered Chinese food, you have definitely tasted Star Anise. It is widely used in Chinese cooking for its scent and flavor. It is 1 times sweeter than sugar. Thus, it is ideal to use for making cakes and bread. It is also highly used in curry concoctions. If you want to learn how to grow star anise, follow the below steps.
1. Step one: Propagation
There are three ways to grow star anise tree. The first way is to buy a potted plant from your local garden center. Make sure you choose a healthy plant.
The second way is to grow Star Anise by cuttings. You will need at least a four inches tall section. Cut it using a sharp knife. The cutting requires a sterile soil to grow. A mixture of sand or peat and perlite is perfect for growing your cutting. Cutting is recommended because it allows the roots to grow faster.
The third way to grow Star Anise from the seeds. This way necessitates that you provide an ideal temperature for the seeds to propagate. The ideal temperature ranges between 65F and 70 F. You could choose to grow the seeds in containers or directly in your garden. Either way, water frequently to keep the soil moist.
If you choose to grow your plant in a container, don’t forget to poke some drainage holes at the bottom to drain the excess of water otherwise you may subject your plant to root rot.
2. Step two: Position
Star Anise is a very adaptable plant, thus, choosing a spot for growing it is easy. This tree can grow in full sun as well as partial shade. The most important thing that you should bear in mind is that this plant does not like frost, therefore, choose a spot where the temperature does not fall under 15 F. You should also avoid exposing it to dry winds.
3. Step Three: Soil
For star anise to grow and thrive, it requires a slightly acidic moist soil. Soil pH should range between 6.0 and 7.0. Besides, make sure that the soil you are using well-draining soil with a loamy texture. For better results, you can add some compost and manure.
4. Step four: Planting
If you are growing Star anise from seeds, you should test the seeds first. Put the seeds in a container filled with water. The seeds that sink to the bottom are valid seeds and you can plant them. However, the seeds that float to the surface are not valid and you should throw them.
Once you have the valid seeds, sow them 1/2 inch deep in the soil. Cover them with a potting mix if available.
5. Step Five: Watering
Star Anise requires regular watering. The soil should be continuously moist. However, you should water it carefully as overwatering will cause root rot. In winter, water it less frequently. As a matter of fact, water only when needed.
6. Step Six: Fertilizing
Star Anise is not a heavy feeder, in fact, it is enough to fertilize only once. Fertilizing this tree should be done in spring using a compost or an aged manure. Spray the fertilizer on the ground surrounding the tree and you will plant will grow perfectly.
7. Step Seven: Pruning
You should pinch off the sackers and prune the plant to maintain its size. It will also make your plant bushier. Since pruning is recommended but not necessary, there are not any special pruning requirements. However, pruning dead, weak and diseased branches is the best way to prune your Star Anise.
8. Step Eights: Pests and diseases
As we mentioned in the introduction of this article, Star Anise is an extremely sturdy plant. Consequently, there are not a lot of diseases and pests that can infect it. In fact, this tree can protect itself. It has pest repelling properties and anti-bacterial compounds that protect it from pests and diseases.
9. Step Nine: Harvesting
In order to harvest Star Anise, you have to be patient. This tree may take up to six years to become mature enough to grow fruit if it is grown from seeds. You should pick the fruits when they are still unripe. Then put them in a sunny spot and let them dry by sunlight. When they become reddish brown, remove the seeds from them and store the fruits or cook them.
10. Step ten: Tips
- Don’t confuse Chinese star anise with Japanese star anise. The latter is a highly toxic plant. However, it is similar in its shape and look to the Chinese Star Anise.
- Star Anise is the best spice to flavor meat and curry.
- Use it with pork and duck dishes to get an unforgettable flavor.
- It replaces sugar and it is way healthier than sugar.
These are the best steps to grow Star Anise plant. Growing this plant may take a few years but it is definitely worth waiting for. Its unique flavor and healing effects cannot be found in any other tree. However, if you wish to grow fast-growing herbs, you could try to grow safflower, Fenugreek and Betel leaf. They grow fast and they are extremely healthy and delicious to spice your cooking with.
Enjoy growing Star Anise and if you ever faced a problem, don’t hesitate to contact us.