Dill is an easy to grow garden herb loved by humans and butterflies alike. Leaves and seeds are used as flavoring agents in a variety of international cuisines and recipes including pickles, soup, and salads. This warm season biennial is normally grown and harvested as an annual, with leaf harvests in the spring giving way to seed-picking in fall. Leaves are feathery and delicate and are often described as fern-like. Its small yellow flowers, grown on an umbel, are a favorite drop-in diner for beneficial insects.
Although not quite as tall as its namesake, Elephant dill will get very large: plants reach up to 4 feet in height, making for enormous yields. This variety is also late to flower with appealingly green colored foliage. Very easy to grow and with high germination rates. Will tolerate wet weather.
Seed Depth: 1/4″
Space Between Plants: 18″
Space Between Rows: 18–24″
Germination Soil Temperature: 50–80°F
Days for Germination: 20–25
Sow Indoors: Not recommended. If necessary, plant 8–10 weeks before average last frost and use biodegradable pots that can be directly planted in the ground.
Sow Outdoors: 1–2 weeks before average last frost. Sow successively by planting more seeds every 2–3 weeks.
Grows best in milder climates in the spring and fall. Dill is very hearty and can withstand temperatures as low as 24˚F; however, planting in the fall may cause your crop to be killed by early winter frosts. Do not despair if this happens: if the plant has seeded, it’s likely a crop will return in the spring.
Natural: Full sun. Will benefit from light shade in the heat of summer.
Artificial: Grows well under HID lamps or fluorescent bulbs.
Soil: Prefers loamy soil but is adaptable and will grow in most soil types. A pH of 5.5–7.5 will allow plants to grow; however, a pH of 5.5–6.5 is best.
Soilless: Will germinate in a soilless mix.
Hydroponics: Thrives in a hydroponic media bed system, with plants spaced 1–2″ apart.
Aeroponics: Thrives in aeroponic systems.
Water: Requires low to moderate levels of water. Dill is relatively drought resistant, but soil should still be kept moist and well-drained.
Nutrients: Requires low to moderate levels of nutrients. A slow-release, organic fertilizer will help young plants grow in the early stages but is not necessary.
Foliar: Applying a seaweed extract or kelp-based foliar can prolong the life of your dill and has also been shown to improve the plants’ shelf life after it has been harvested!
Mulching: Use mulch to suppress weeds.
Support: Staking dill may be needed to keep them from falling over.
Rotation: A 3–4 year rotation away from all plants in the Apiaceae family is recommended.
Companions: Grows well with basil, lettuce, onion, and cucumbers. Avoid fennel, tomatoes, caraway, lavender, and carrots.
Harvest: Leaves may be harvested at any point before flowering. The entire dill plant may be harvested, or cuttings can be taken, throughout the season. Dill flowers can be used for pickling. To harvest the seeds, pick from the plant as soon as the seeds have turned brown, approximately 2–3 weeks after the plant has started flowering.
Storage: Can be placed in a plastic bag and frozen or hung upside down in a warm dry area. Seeds should be stored in an airtight container in a dry, dark location.
Fun Fact: Dill was brought to Western Europe as long ago as 900 A.C.E. from Sumatra, Indonesia.
Preserve: Commonly used when when pickling to add flavor. May also be hung upside down or placed at a very low temperature (approximately 200°F) in the oven for an hour or more to dry out.
Prepare: Is frequently added fresh to various fish dishes, soups, potato salad, yogurts, and dips. May be used as a spice when dried.
Nutritional: Contains significant amounts of vitamin A, iron, manganese, and calcium.
Medicinal: Has been cited to assist digestion problems as well as reduce inflammation, particularly of the throat and mouth. It has also been cited as acting like a diuretic, assisting in cleansing the urinary tract.
Warnings: May cause skin irritation and sensitivity, increasing the likelihood of sun burn. Some sources have noted it may also effect women’s menstrual cycles. Women should consult a doctor if pregnant before consuming the herb. As a member of the carrot family, those with allergies to carrots, parsley, etc., should use caution when consuming the herb.
Make these Easy Homemade Dill Pickles as a last hurrah for summer once your dill plants have flowered and made their seeds.