How to Grow Dill

Dill plants in gardenDill is a biennial herb often grown as an annual. Sow dill in the garden as early as 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Dill will reseed itself readily so plant in a spot where you can allow dill to grow for several years. Dill can be started indoors 4 to 6 weeks before transplanting to the garden, but is most easily grown in place.

Description. Dill is a warm-season biennial herb that grows 2 to 4 feet tall. Dill has finely cut, feathery blue-green leaves atop hollow stems with green and white stripes. Small greenish-yellow flowers bloom on flat-topped clusters from summer to autumn. Flat, oval, light-brown seeds follow the blossoms.

Yield. Grow one or two dill plants per household. Dill easily reseeds itself.

Site. Plant dill in full sun; dill will tolerate light shade but will not grow as bushy. Dill grows best in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Add aged compost to the planting bed in advance of planting. Dill prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.7.

Planting time. Sow dill in the garden as early as 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Dill will reseed itself readily so plant in a spot where you can allow dill to grow for several years. Dill seed can be started indoors 4 to 6 weeks before transplanting to the garden, but is most easily grown in place; but seedlings that form taproots transplant poorly. Sow successive crops of dill every 3 to 4 weeks for a continuous fresh harvest.

Planting and spacing. Sow dill seed ¼ to ½ inch deep; thin successful seedlings to 12 inches apart. Space rows 2 to 3 feet apart. Dill easily reseeds itself, so thin plants for best growth and yield. Dill is often grown in clumps not rows. Choose a location where the plant can re-seed itself and grow for several years. Dill forms a taproot and is not easily transplanted.

Water and feeding. Water dill evenly and regularly until established. Once established dill will grow best if the soil is allowed to nearly dry between waterings. Prepare planting beds with aged compost. Side dress dill two or three times during the growing season with compost tea.

Companion plants. Cabbage family plants and fruit trees.

Care. Dill can grow tall and wispy; it may benefit from staking in gardens with prevailing winds. Keep planting beds weed free. Pinch out early flowers for prolonged leaf growth.

Container growing. Dill will grow easily in a container. Choose a container at least 12 inches deep as dill forms a taproot.

Pests. Dill may be attacked by the parsley caterpillars and tomato hornworms; handpick pests off the plant.

Diseases. Dill has no serious disease problems.

Harvest. Snip fresh dill leaves as needed during the growing season. Snip off the top 2 to 3 inches after plants have reached 8 inches tall or more. Dill leaves have the best flavor just before flowers open, about 70 days after sowing. Dill leaves can be dried in a warm place on nonmetallic screens. Dill seed is ready for harvest about 90 days after sowing. Collect flower heads before the seeds are fully dry, shatter, and fall to the ground. Hang flower heads upside down to dry and allow dried seeds to fall onto paper for collection.

Varieties. ‘Bouquet’ is a popular dill variety. ‘Fernleaf’ is a dwarf variety suited for container growing. ‘Superdukat’ is intensely flavored.

Storing and preserving. Use dill leaves fresh as needed. Leaves will keep in the refrigerator for about one week folded into a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag. Dill seeds can be sprouted if they are allowed to dry naturally. Fresh leaves can be frozen. Dried leaves can be stored in an airtight container. Dried dill seed will keep in an airtight container.

Common name. Dill

Botanical name. Anethum graveolens

Origin. Southeast Asia

Easy grow herbs: THE KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS’ GUIDE