Expert tips on how to plant, grow, and harvest dill in your home garden. Learn to grow dill in minutes. Find out how to grow dill and add the freshest of herbs to recipes Dill grows tall with lots of aromatic leaves. Flowers attract beneficial insects to the garden. Follow this How to Grow Dill seeds guide and get pickling.
How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Dill
Dill is an annual herb that is easy to grow and is a great addition to your garden. Dill is a great herb to grow because it is a member of the carrot family and is, therefore, a companion plant to carrots. Dill is a cool weather herb and will bolt (go to seed) in hot weather.
To plant dill, you will need to purchase a dill seed packet or grow dill from a starter plant. Dill grows well in full sun or partial shade. To plant dill, you will need to loosen the soil and then plant the dill seeds 1/4 inch deep and 2 inches apart. You can also plant dill seeds in a pot.
Dill will germinate in 5-10 days. Once the dill plants are a few inches tall, you can thin them to 12 inches apart. Dill does not like to be transplanted, so it is best to plant the dill seeds directly in the garden.
Dill needs consistent watering, but should not be overwatered. You can fertilize dill with a balanced fertilizer, but it is not necessary.
Dill can be harvested when the plants are about 6 inches tall. The leaves can be harvested by snipping them off with scissors. The dill flowers can be harvested by cutting the entire flower head off the plant. Dill can be harvested all summer long.
Table of Contents
Where to plant dill
- Best location: Plant dill in full sun; dill will tolerate light shade but will not grow as bushy.
- Soil preparation: 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.
When to plant dill
- Seed starting indoors: Dill seed can be started indoors 4 to 6 weeks before transplanting to the garden. Seedlings form taproots that transplant poorly so dill is most easily started and grown in place.
- Transplanting to the garden: Set out seedlings after the last frost in spring. Dill forms a taproot and is not easily transplanted.
- Outdoor planting time: Sow dill in the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Sow seed in rows or 5-inch bands. Dill will reseed itself readily so plant where you can allow it to grow for several years. Sow successive crops of dill every 3 to 4 weeks for a continuous fresh harvest.
How to plant dill
- Planting depth: Direct sow seed in shallow trenches ¼ to ½ inch deep; thin successful seedlings from 8 to 12 inches apart.
- Spacing: Space dill plants 10 to 12 inches apart. Space rows 2 to 3 feet apart. Dill is often grown in clumps, not rows.
- How much to plant: Grow 10 dill plants over the course of the season for cooking and culinary use; sow several successions two weeks apart. Grow 20 plants for preservation.
Dill companion plants
- Companion planting: Plant dill with cabbage family plants and fruit trees also tomatoes, chilies, sweet peppers, strawberries, and thyme. Dill improves the growth of cabbage family crops. Do not plant dill near carrots or fennel it will hybridize. Dill attracts honeybees and beneficial insects to the garden. Dill can be used as a trap crop for tomato hornworms. The aroma of dill is said to repel aphids and spider mites. Dill attracts the caterpillars that turn into black swallowtail butterflies.
Watering and feeding dill
- Watering: Water dill evenly and regularly until established. Once established dill will grow best if the soil is allowed to nearly dry between waterings.
- Feeding: Prepare planting beds with aged compost. Side dress dill two or three times during the growing season with compost tea.
Dill care and maintenance
- Care: Keep the planting bed well weeded; weeds compete for nutrients and water
- Dill can grow tall and wispy; it may benefit from staking in gardens with a prevailing wind. Keep planting beds weed-free; weeds compete for moisture and nutrients. Pinch out early flowers for prolonged leaf growth.
Container growing dill
- To plant dill, fill a container with potting soil.
- Sow the seeds in the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the seeds and keep the soil moist until they germinate. Dill plants should be spaced about 12 inches apart.
- Dill plants grow best in full sun. They will need regular watering, especially during hot weather. Harvest the dill leaves as needed.
- Container growing: Dill will grow easily in a container. Choose a container at least 12 inches deep as dill forms a taproot.
- Winter growing: Dill can be grown indoors in winter. Outdoors dill will likely die back to the ground after the first hard freeze.
Dill pests and diseases
- Pests: Dill may be attacked by parsley caterpillars and tomato hornworms; handpick pests off the plant. Spray with Bacillus thuringiensiskurstaki to be rid of these pests.
- Diseases: Dill has no serious disease problems.
How to harvest dill
- When to harvest: Snip fresh dill leaves as needed during the growing season 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 seed is ready for harvest about 90 days after sowing when seeds are flat and brown; harvest seeds when they are ripe but before they fall to the ground. Collect flower heads and hang them in a paper bag so the seeds drop into the bag.
- How to harvest: Cut leaves or stems with a garden snip or scissors.
Dill in the kitchen
Dill is both an herb and a spice. The feathery leaves are harvested to use as an herb. The small hard, dried seeds are used as a spice. The feathery green leaves are often called dill weed. Dill weed is used to flavor many dishes including salads, vegetables, meats, and sauces. Dill seed is used to flavor bread, pickles, sauerkraut, and coleslaw
- Flavor and aroma: Dill has a buttery green flavor with a hint of citrus; seeds are strong-flavored, slightly bitter-tasting similar to caraway.
- Leaves: Use fresh dill leaves in salads and as garnishes. When mincing dill, preserve the delicate flavor by snipping with scissors rather than slicing with a knife. Use fresh or dried leaves with lamb, pork, poultry, cheese, cream, eggs, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, parsnips, squash, eggplant, spinach, potatoes, broccoli, turnips, cucumbers, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, avocadoes, eggs, and apples. Add fresh dill leaves to salads, soups, and sauces. Use leaves to flavor vinegar and pickles. Fresh dill leaves lose their fragrance when heated so add them at the very end of cooking. Dried leaves are known as dillweed.
- Flowers: Yellow dill flowers can be used as you would use leaves.
- Seeds: Dill seeds are used whole or ground in longer-cooking recipes Add dill seeds to homemade bread. Use fresh or dried seeds in salad dressing, sauces, stews, butter and cheese spreads, and egg dishes. Heating brings out the flavor of dill seed which is stronger than the leaves. Dill seeds are the main flavoring agent in dill pickles.
Preserving and storing dill
- Refrigeration: Leaves will keep in the crisper for a couple of days folded into a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag
- Drying: To harvest and dry seeds, collect flower heads before the seeds fully dry, shatter, and fall to the ground. Hang flower heads upside down in a paper bag to dry. Dry seed will fall into the bag. Seeds are ripe a few weeks after the flowers bloom.
- Freezing: Fresh leaves can be frozen. Freeze leaves chopped or whole. For best flavor freeze leaves right after harvest. Freeze stems whole; later snip off frozen leaves with scissors as you need them and return the rest to the freezer. You can also freeze fresh dill leaves in butter or vinegar.
- Storing: Dried leaves can be stored in an airtight container. Dried dill seed will keep in an airtight container.
- Seed: Dill self-sows. Plant dill where it can remain for several years. Seeds may not be produced until the plant’s second year; if plants are set out in early spring you may get seeds the first year.
Dill frequently asked questions
Q. How quickly does dill grow?
A. Dill is a fast-growing annual. It will mature in about 70 days.
Q. When is the best time to plant dill in the garden?
A. Sow dill seeds in early spring in well-prepared soil. Sow dill where the plants are to stand.
Q. How far apart should I plant dill plants?
A. Space dill plants 1 to 2 feet apart. Dill is a good-sized bush that grows to about 3 feet tall.
How to grow dill – for fabulous flavor in the kitchen
Wondering how to grow dill successfully? After all, to create the tastiest of dishes, just-picked herbs are a must.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a great choice as part of kitchen garden ideas, but it’s also a herb those with small yards or none at all can cultivate because it can also be grown in containers both outdoors and indoors.
Grown outside, dill attracts bees and other wildlife, benefiting nature as well as bringing superior flavor to your cookery, and this is what you need to know about growing dill.
How to grow dill
Dill, also known as dill weed, was traditionally grown as a medicinal herb, used as a remedy for coughs, headaches and, as TV gardening guru Monty Don writes in his blog, ‘as medicine for easing flatulence’. But dill is more often used in the kitchen these days, and the seeds, leaves, and even the pretty flowers are edible.
Dill is reputed to be tricky to grow, but if you pay attention to its preferred growing conditions you can grow dill easily and successfully from seed, in the yard, or in indoor or outdoor pots, and our guide has the details you need on how to grow dill.
How to grow dill from seed
You can sow dill seeds indoors from early spring, or directly outside from May to July. To grow dill inside, either use cell trays for individual seeds, or scatter a few seeds thinly in small pots. To transfer indoor-sown dill outside, harden them off for a week to 10 days, once the frosts are over. Plant out allowing 12in (30cm) in between plants.
Don McCulley of Swallow Tail Garden Seeds (opens in new tab) says you should do your first indoor sowing of dill seeds ‘in cell packs or flats, six to eight weeks before the last frost. Keeping the seeds at 60 to 65°F (16 to 18°C). They should germinate in 14 to 21 days.’
In mild climates, McCulley advises planting dill in full sun, but for hotter areas choose a sunny or part shady spot.
He advocates succession planting and says, ‘For a steady supply of fresh dill leaves throughout the season, plant in early spring, again in June, and once more in July.’
How to care for dill in the vegetable garden
When planning a kitchen garden, be mindful that dill thrives in a sunny, sheltered spot and likes fertile, well-drained soil. It requires regular watering, especially in hot weather – digging in garden compost or well-rotted manure to the earth will help to retain moisture. Be careful not to overwater, however, as the plants won’t thrive if they’re in waterlogged compost.
Monty Don says, ‘Dill is best grown outside in the open air and sunshine, but will do well in a deep pot.’
He adds, ‘Sow a line of seed in the ground and it will grow fast to provide leaves, flowers and seed for cooking.’
How to grow dill in containers
If you like the idea of growing dill in containers, sow the seeds in large pots (1 to 2ft (30 to 60cm) in depth) in peat-free multipurpose compost.
The temperature should be above 60ºF (15ºC) so keep the pots indoors on a sunny windowsill as necessary during early spring. When the seedlings are around 3in (8cm) tall, they should be thinned out to 4in (10cm) apart.
Water regularly, as with dill grown in the vegetable garden, ensuring the compost doesn’t dry out but also making sure it doesn’t become waterlogged.
If you’ve chosen to grow dill in containers inside your home, a position by a south or west-facing window is best.
How to prolong the life of dill plants
You can prolong the life of your dill plants, and encourage a more bushy habit by pinching out flower shoots. Taller varieties may need support from canes if they’re in an exposed part of the garden.
If you’ve added compost or manure to the plot you shouldn’t need to feed dill, but you could use a liquid multipurpose plant food occasionally if you wish.
How to harvest dill
Cut the leaves of dill as you need to during both spring and summer. This will keep the plants growing well and hold off flowers.
Bear in mind that if there are more than enough leaves for using fresh, both freezing and drying are great alternatives, making the very most of the harvest.
Hang up the harvested dill in the dark in a well-ventilated space to dry the leaves. Keep them there for a few weeks then, once they’re completely dried, take the leaves from the stems. An air-tight container will keep them ready for use.
If freezing dill, freeze the stems, then clip off the leaves as required.
As for the flowers, simply gather these from the plants and add them to salads.
When it comes to dill seeds, wait until late summer when they turn brown. Cut stems from the plant and put them, seedheads down, into a paper bag, then hang the bag to allow the seeds to drop into it. As with the leaves, store seeds in an air-tight container.
Does dill come back every year?
Dill is a biennial plant, and so dies right back to the ground in winter, reappearing in the spring. However, harsh winters can kill the plant altogether. Of course, if you grow dill indoors in a container you can keep it going all year round.
How do you grow dill successfully?
Dill is easy to grow but there are a few things to look out for. Dill does have a tendency to bolt and flower if the plant dries out or its roots are disturbed, so water it well to avoid this.
As well as attracting bees and wildlife, tender dill shoots draw in greenfly. You can get rid of them by spraying with a gentle jet of water, or squashing them with your fingers. Alternatively you can wait for nature to take its course – hoverflies love dill plants and hoverfly larvae love greenfly, so they might just take care of the problem for you.
Monty Don agrees, saying: ‘Dill is important for the organic gardener as it draws hoverflies, whose larvae eat aphids.’
Karen is the houses editor for homesandgardens.com and homes editor for the brand’s sister titles, Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors, and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. She loves visiting historic houses for Period Living and writing about rural properties for Country Homes & Interiors, and working with photographers to capture all shapes and sizes of properties. Karen began her career as a sub editor at Hi-Fi News and Record Review magazine, starting to write album reviews just as they switched from vinyl to CD releases. Her move to women’s magazines came soon after, in the shape of Living magazine, which covered cookery, fashion, beauty, homes and gardening. From Living Karen moved to Ideal Home magazine, where as deputy chief sub, then chief sub, she started to really take an interest in properties, architecture, interior design and gardening.
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How to Grow Dill
Dill grows tall and produces lots of aromatic leaves. The umbels of yellow flowers attract numerous beneficial insects to the garden. Dill plants are attractive to ladybird beetles, which will lay their eggs on the stems. Continue reading below for some tricks on how to grow dill from seed.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Direct sow late spring through summer, or sow when cucumbers are transplanted, to coincide maturity for pickling. Dill tends to bolt if transplanted, so it is best direct sown. Stagger the harvest by sowing every 2-3 weeks for a constant supply of fresh leaves. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 15-21°C (60-70°F). Seeds should germinate in 10-21 days.
Dill seeds need some light to germinate. Sow seeds no more than 5mm (¼”) deep in rows 45cm (18″) apart. Thin the plants to stand at least 15cm (6″) apart.
Ideal pH: 5.0-7.0. Grow in moderately rich soil in full sun. Water and feed regularly, and stop any overhead watering once plants are 60cm (24″) tall to prevent issues with mildew forming on the leaves.
Begin harvesting the tasty leaves once plants reach 15cm (6″) tall. About 12 weeks after sprouting the seed heads begin to form. When the first seeds have turned brown, cut the whole head and hang it upside down for the drying seeds to fall out into trays or paper bags. Dill leaf loses most of its flavour when dried, so freeze it in ice cube trays filled with water for use all winter.
Usual seed life: 3 years.
Dill improves the health of cabbages and other Brassicas, and is a very good companion for corn, cucumbers, lettuce, and onions. Dill attracts ladybugs, lacewings, and the parasitoid wasps that feed on garden caterpillars. At the same time it repels aphids and spider mites. Avoid planting near carrots and tomatoes.