Graceful in the garden, dill plants attract beneficial insects to their flat-headed, yellow flowers and offer both seeds and leaves, called dill weed, when dried. Although not difficult to grow, dill is a bit more challenging to sustain than some other herbs as it requires flower removal and repeated sowing.
- Select seed from among several dill varieties.
- Popular ‘Bouquet’ grows to about 3 ft.
- ‘Fernleaf’ is a slow-to-bolt, 18-24 in. dwarf suited for container growing.
- ‘Superdukat,’ a 2-ft hybrid, is intensely flavored and slow-bolting.
- ‘Long Island Mammoth,’ popular commercially, grows to about 30 in. for a source of both leaves and seed.
- ‘Hercules’ and ‘Tetra Leaf’ are more recent varieties that are slow to flower and, thus, have good leaf production.
- Amend heavy clay soil with composted organic material or grow in a raise bed with a soil mix.
- Grow dill in an outdoor pot at least 12 in. deep to accommodate its taproot.
- Sow dill seeds directly in the ground in full sun 2-3 weeks before the last frost date, April 15 in Sonoma County, or delay sowing until early May to avoid any weather surprises.
- Continue planting every 2-3 weeks until early summer for a continuous crop throughout the growing season.
- Plant tall, bushy varieties along the sunny, north side of your garden so they don’t shade shorter, sun-loving herbs or vegetables.
- Sow seeds only ¼ in. deep or less to provide light needed for germination. Starting plants indoors is not recommended; dill, like other plants with taproots, does not transplant well.
- Plant in rows 2 ft. apart or prepare a square foot or larger area. Broadcast seeds and rake into the soil to the recommended depth. Consider planting dill in a clump where it can be allowed to self-seed for successive crops.
- Thin seedlings when they are 2-4 in. tall, leaving the strongest plants. Avoid crowding to allow for ample air circulation. Spacing 12-18 in. apart is recommended unless you prefer tall plants to support each other in the wind. Taller varieties may require staking.
Care and Harvesting
- Water regularly until plants are established. Allow soil to dry between waterings. Plants will rot when overwatered.
- Harvest dill weed as soon as its needle-like foliage appears. Encourage continued leaf production by removing flowers as they form unless you plan to harvest seed. When seeds are set, the plant dies.
- Expect heat-sensitive dill to bolt when summer temperatures soar, ending production.
- Re-plant in September in Sonoma County for a cool-season crop. New seeds germinate quickly.
- Expect to find parsley worms, larvae of the beautiful swallowtail butterfly, feeding on a few leaves. Larvae go through 5 stages from black/brown with orange markings and spines to smooth, pale green fat bodies with black and yellow stripes before pupating and emerging as yellow and black butterflies.