How to grow star anise from seeds

Updated February 21, 2017

Star anise, also known as Chinese star anise, is a tall, spreading evergreen tree indigenous to tropical and subtropical areas of eastern Asia. The seed pods of the tree are used in both culinary and traditional medicinal application. As the plant does not do well in temperatures below freezing, growing star anise is typically limited to the warmest of USDA hardiness zones, specifically zones 9 and 10 within the United States. Star anise trees can be propagated by seed, but usually take several years to bear fruit.

Fill the cells of a seed tray to within 1 inch of the top with a good seed starter soil mix. Place one star anise seed in each seed tray cell. Cover each seed with the seed starter mix to fill the cells almost to the top.

Water each cell within the seed tray thoroughly so the soil is damp but not wet. Poke holes through a large plastic bag with the pencil. Place the seed tray in the plastic bag, and seal the bag. Set the seed tray in a warm, well-lit area away from direct sun.

After the seeds sprout, remove the seed tray from the plastic bag. Continue to water the seedlings periodically, keeping the soil moist, but not wet.

When the seedlings are approximately 3 to 5 inches tall, transplant them to 3-gallon pots filled with a good potting soil. Place the pots in full sun in an area protected from the weather. Continue to water the plants to keep the soil damp. Allow the seedlings to mature to saplings for 3 years.

Plant star anise saplings in rich, well-draining soil in full sun. Place the trees between 1 1/2 and 2 feet apart to provide room for harvesting as the trees mature. Continue to irrigate the trees regularly to keep the soil damp, but not wet.

Things You'll Need

  • Fresh star anise tree seeds
  • Seed tray
  • Seed starter mix
  • Pencil
  • Large zip plastic bag
  • 3-gallon pots
  • Potting soil
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