The useful dill plant makes a great addition to any kitchen garden or herb spiral. A popular culinary herb Dill can be used either fresh or preserved. Additionally its fragrant foliage and bright yellow flowers add interest to any floral display or herb garden. Despite its delicate appearance dill is also surprisingly hardy.
This growing dill care guide will help you to select the best dill plants for your situation. We will also take you through everything you need to know about dill planting and growing your new plant.
Selecting a Dill Variety
Dill plants are normally grown as an annual. In USDA zones 9 and warmer dill will go to seed in the hottest months. However in cooler climates Dill will grow throughout the season. Gardeners in warmer climates can either grow bolt resistant Dill varieties, sow successively or grow slow growing types of Dill. Any of these options will extend your growing season.
There are a number of varieties of dill plants available to purchase. Try to select the best Dill variety for your climate and situation.
The herbs delicate foliage is both attractive and useful. This is a common culinary ingredient, used in a range of styles and dishes. Dill is also a useful addition to the garden, attracting many beneficial insects to the plant.
The varieties Dukat and Superdukat are slow to flower and decline. This negates the need for sequential sowing as well as allowing you to enjoy an extended harvest. Another reliable plant variety is Vierling. This is slow to bolt and mature.
Delikat is a heavy yielding plant variety that will produce masses of dense foliage.
The aromatic Bouquet is a common plant variety that produces pleasantly flavored foliage and large seed heads. As well as being used fresh Dill is also a reliable pickling variety. Bouquet is best grown in the spring or fall in warm climates.
There is a wide variety of plant cultivars available if you are growing the plant from seed. This range of choice means that you will be able to find some that suit your own requirements and growing conditions.
If you only enjoy a short growing season, try to grow varieties that are quick to mature. Alternatively try growing dwarf or potted plant varieties. Fernleaf is a popular choice that can be grown indoors throughout the year.
For container gardens, compact varieties such as Dukat are a reliable choice. Its rich green foliage has a distinctive flavor when used in salads or as a garnish. The seeds of this variety can also be used as seasoning. The flavorsome Long Island Mammoth may reach 5ft in height but is also a popular choice for a container garden. Just make sure that the plant container is at least 12 inches deep so that the long tap root of the dill has room to grow.
How to Sow Dill Seeds
The dill herb does not transplant well. For this reason the plant seeds should be sown directly into the garden or container.
Sow seeds outside when the last local frost date has passed and the soil temperature is between 60-70ºF. For a successional harvest sow seeds every couple of weeks until midsummer. This will allow you to enjoy a constant supply of fresh dill weed.
Aim to sow plant seeds as thinly as possible. Should they germinate in clumps, or too close together, you will need to weed out weaker plants.
If sowing indoors, sow from early April onwards. If you have sown the herbs in containers indoors and wish to move them outside, they will need to be hardened off before permanently being sited outside.
If planting dill outside select a full sun location. The soil should be well draining and fairly pH neutral. Slightly acidic soil is also fine. There should also be some shelter from the wind in this full sun location. Work in organic matter, such as homemade compost, to further enrich the soil.
Dampen the soil slightly before sowing. This will help the seeds to stick to the soil and stay in place.
Sow dill seeds as thinly as possible to a depth of about a quarter of an inch. Following germination you can thin out seedlings to 12 inches apart to 15 inches apart. This may vary depending on the variety, larger varieties will require more space. Check the seed packet for spacing information.
The plant will germinate within a couple of weeks if the conditions are correct. Best sown in their final position and full sun location, this herb is a largely trouble free addition to the garden.
Dill seeds will germinate within 14 days.
Sowing in a Container
Dill has a long tap root. This means that the Dill container should be at least 12 inches deep. The Dill container should also be clean and have drainage holes in the bottom.
Fill the container with fresh, general purpose compost. Dampen the soil before sprinkling the dill seeds on the surface and covering with a light layer of compost.
Place the containers in a warm (over 60°F) light location. Dill needs to receive 6-8 hours of light every day. Dill herbs growing undercover can, once any danger of frost has passed, be placed outside in a warm and light position.
How to Care for Dill
Following germination dill plants will require some care and attention to ensure that they thrive. Here is our dill care guide.
Water the Dill regularly during the Dill growing season. Don’t allow the soil to dry out completely. Dry soil and arid conditions can trigger bolting. Plants that require regular hydration can be watered with rainwater harvested from your garden. This is a great way of cutting your water usage without making the Dills suffer.
Apply a general purpose granular feed to the soil when sowing will enrich the soil and give the seeds a boost. However this is not necessary.
You can also apply a general purpose liquid plant feed in the summer. This will help the Dill to produce more foliage. Store purchased feeds are fine, or you can try making your own.
How to Prune Dill
If you wish to extend the harvest period remove Dill flower buds as soon as they emerge. This will also help the Dill to maintain their flavor.
Should the Dill flower remove the flower heads before they go to seed. If you do not do this, the seeds make take to the soil and regrow next year in the same position. The seeds may also spread throughout the garden.
The flower heads not only look attractive but are also necessary if you want to harvest the dill seed. However flowering and dill seed production comes at the expense of foliage production.
If growing as a biennial, allow the dill to die back to ground level during the fall and winter. Cut away old flower stems and remove dead foliage. As long as your winter isn’t too harsh the dill should return in the spring.
Taller Dill varieties will also require some support. Tying loosely to a bamboo cane will provide support whilst not damaging the Dill leaves.
Once established the Dill plants are unlikely to succumb to any problems. Young Dill can fall victim to aphids and other infestations. However if caught and treated early enough these are easily remedied.
If aphid infestations are left untreated the Dill may develop Carrot Motley Dwarf disease.
Fungal diseases such as damping off may also strike. This can be caused by rotting seeds that have failed to germinate. Infections can be treated with a fungicide. However planting in well drained, warm soil should prevent the disease from emerging.
Regularly check the growing dill weed for signs of disease. If caught early enough most issues are easily remedied.
Downy mildew fungus can cause leaves or dill weed to develop yellow spots. It can also cause fluffy growth to emerge on the underside of the dill weed. The main cause of this disease is overcrowding of the dill plants, resulting in poor air circulation. Space your dill plants correctly and, if you are growing year after year, practice crop rotation.
Similarly powdery mildew is often developed by dill plants in humid areas. Protective fungicides can be applied. Alternatively try not to over fertilize your dill plants. If powdery growth does appear treat the infection with an application of sulfur.
Companions for Dill
As well as being a useful member of the herb garden, dill plants are also great companion plants. Not only does Dill attract pollinators and beneficial insects such as ladybugs and butterflies to the garden, dill plants also repel unwanted visitors such as aphids. Aromatic varieties such as bouquet are particularly useful. Planting dill near to a bug hotel will help to attract visitors to your structure.
This is one of the most reliable companion plants. Pollinators and beneficial insects such as ladybugs and hoverflies will be drawn to the sweet aroma and colorful flowers of the plants.
The growing dill plants thrive when planted alongside members of the cabbage family as well as lettuce, basil, onions, asparagus and cucumbers.
Plants to Avoid
Growing dill plants will struggle if grown alongside bell peppers, lavender, eggplants, potatoes and cilantro. However these combinations are still regularly planted, and with the right care and attention will succeed.
You should avoid planting near carrots. Both are members of the Umbelliferae family. Planting them near each other can lead to cross-pollination. Carrots may also become stunted.
Many people avoid planting this herb near tomatoes. This combination can produce mixed results. While it may initially thrive, as the growing dill matures and flowers the tomatoes will slow or cease growing. If you do decide to grow this combination, regularly pruning the growing dill to prevent flowering.
How to Harvest Dill
Cut the dill weed as and when you need them. Remove either with a scissors or simply pinch them away from the main plant. Take up to 5 leaves at a time. Regular harvesting will encourage more, fresh growth. It also helps to delay flowering.
The dill weed is best used fresh. However they can also be frozen or dried for use during the winter months.
If you want dill seeds you will need to allow the dill plants to flower and fade. The spent blooms will give way to dill seed heads. Once the dill seed heads have turned brown and ripened they can be harvested. Again these can be used fresh or dried for use during the winter months.
The plant’s dill seeds can also be used in culinary dishes and pickling. Allow the herb to flower. As the Dill flower fades it develops dill seed heads.
Growing dill plant is both a useful and attractive addition to any floral or herb garden. As well as being a reliable companion plant dill is also a useful culinary ingredient and can be incorporated into floral displays. The many varieties on offer means that you will easily find something to suit your style.