The Star anise plant, known for its star-shaped fruits, is a popular plant. Star anise is an herb used widely in South Asian cuisines, as a spice for its incredible flavor and aroma. It’s not just a culinary herb and spice, but it offers a plethora of scientifically proven benefits.
Star anise has a long history of being used as a medicinal agent. It has got excellent antioxidant properties, and it’s an efficient insect repellant, aids digestion, improves lactation, reduces respiratory congestion, lowers the levels of blood sugar, stops the growth of fungi and bacteria, improves sleep, beneficial for brain health, pain and inflammation, is known to ease menopause symptoms, among plenty of others.
Star anise plant is easy to grow, which is why many people grow it in their home gardens. If you’re planning to incorporate this excellent, multi-purpose herb in your home’s herb garden, you’ve landed yourself at just the right place. We’ve put together the ultimate gardener’s guide to help you grow a star anise plant at home.
Before we move on to discussing how to grow a star anise plant at home, let’s first have a quick walkthrough of some of its characteristic features.
The scientific name of star anise is Illicium verum. Star anise plants grow fast and can grow to be as tall as 26 feet. However, most of the star anise trees have an average height of about 10 feet. It has a licorice-like smell and a sweet taste. The star anise fruit is star-shaped. It turns brown from green when fully ripe. The star-shaped fruit has 6 to 8 carpels, each of which contains a single seed. The fruits are harvested before they are fully ripe (that is when they’re still green) and then dried in the sun.
How to Grow Star Anise Plant
Star anise has no frost tolerance, so if you live in a region where it snows, growing star anise in your garden isn’t a good idea unless you’ve got a greenhouse. It grows best in tropical regions. You can opt to grow star anise in your garden or in a pot indoors – it’ll grow well both ways, provided that you provide the right soil type and light that it needs for healthy and optimal growth.
Star anise plants grow best in slightly acidic soil. They require compost and humus-rich soil for optimal growth. The soil type should be loamy, and it should be well-draining. Wet or overly moist soil isn’t the best for star anise plants.
Star anise grows best in full sun to partial shade. It should be planted in a place that receives dappled shade. If you’re growing star anise in a region that’s usually warm, star anise will grow well in full shade too. However, if your region’s climate is cooler, you’ve got to make sure that your star anise plants receive adequate sunlight.
These plants prefer slightly moist soil, so you’ve got to water the star anise plants regularly. The soil should be slightly moist but not wet. The frequency of watering should be reduced when the temperature becomes cooler as the rate of evaporation is lower.
Star anise doesn’t require extensive use of fertilizer. All it needs for healthy growth is about a 3-inch deep layer of aged manure or compost around the tree during the spring season. That’s about it. However, if the soil quality is extremely poor, slow-release fertilizer in spring would ensure optimal growth of the star anise plant.
Promising Tips to Grow Health Star Anise Plants
Growing star anise is not difficult. If it’s your first attempt at planting star anise, the below-listed tips are sure to help you a great deal.
Avoid too Much Sun
Although star anise requires full sun to partial shade for optimal growth, make sure that you don’t expose your plant to direct sun for too long. Excessive exposure to direct sun for prolonged durations can burn your star anise plant.
Water Frequently During First Growing Season
Star anise prefers moist soil for optimal growth. You should water star anise regularly, especially during the first growing season. However, once the plant has grown, you can reduce the watering frequency. Make sure that the soil is moist at all times, particularly in summers when the rate of evaporation is high. You should water the these plants less frequently in winter. Overwatering can lead to root rot and plant death.
Use a Pot with Draining Holes
Use a pot with draining holes at the bottom if you’re growing star anise in a pot indoors from seeds. It’ll ensure that excess water flows out. Like we mentioned above, overly wet soil isn’t suitable for your star anise plant.
Use a Sterile Medium if You’re Using Plant Cuttings
If you’re growing star anise from plant cuttings, you don’t need to pot these cuttings directly into the soil. In this case, you’ll need a sterile medium – a mixture of perlite and peat or sand. The mixture should be warm and moist for the further propagation of star anise plant from the cutting,
Star anise is a fast-growing plant. If you want to spend the minimum time and effort in its maintenance, it’s best to prune your plant regularly. If you don’t, it won’t be long before it becomes extremely bushy. At that point, maintenance would be more time-consuming.
Pests and Diseases
One reason why star anise makes an excellent houseplant is that it’s highly resistant to pests and diseases. It’s anti-bacterial in nature, and its strong aroma repels insects and pests. This makes the star anise plant a hassle-free plant to grow in your home garden.
Word of Caution
If you plan to grow star anise, you need to extremely careful about one thing – don’t confuse the star anise plant with the Japanese star anise. This variety of star anise is native to Japan, looks exactly like the star anise you’re planning to grow but is highly toxic. You certainly don’t want this variety of star anise in your home.
Star anise plant is easy to grow, doesn’t require extensive maintenance, and is resistant to pests and diseases. With just the right maintenance, your star anise plant will flourish. So, if you want to grow this evergreen plant indoors or in your garden, you most definitely should!