Attractive and flavorful, dill is an easy-to-grow aromatic herb with feathery green leaves and a pleasant, sweet taste.
Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 40-65 days from seed
Height: 3 to 4 feet
Spacing: 12 to 18 inches apart, 2 to 4 feet between rows
Home herb gardeners are growing dill (Anethum graveolens) for its flat, light-brown seeds and feathery foliage commonly used to flavor fish. Its large fragrant heads add a sweet, citrusy flavor to pickles and are perfect for spicing up many summer salads. Foliage is abundant and long lasting and can be used in soups, dips and egg dishes. The graceful plant makes a unique filler in cut flower arrangements.
Native to the Mediterranean, culinary dill is a member of the apiaceae family which makes it closely related to carrots, parsley, caraway, anise and coriander. Self-seeding annual grows 3-4 feet tall.
- Feathery, enticing herb used fresh and for pickling
- Choose a site with full sun and amended soil; water regularly
- Direct seed into warm soil; will self-seed
- Tolerates frost but not freezing
- Is rarely bothered by pests or diseases
Dill prefers full sun, regular water and rich, well-drained soil. Till to a depth of 8 to 12 inches and work in a handful or two of organic all-purpose fertilizer. Plants grow vigorously and will readily volunteer each year from dropped seeds. The herb is frost-tolerant but will NOT do well in prolonged freezing temperatures.
Dill’s delicate, yellow-green flowers provide food in the form of pollen and nectar for many beneficial insects. Create a backyard habitat that supports these “good bugs” by planting a variety of culinary herbs throughout your landscape.
How to Plant
Sow seeds outdoors early in the spring when the ground has warmed. Start with a band of seeds 6 inches wide and 3 to 4 feet long. Plant seeds just beneath the surface of the soil. If you are growing dill for seeds, thin to 12-18 inches apart in rows or beds (watch How to Grow an Herb Garden — video).
When harvesting dill you can either pick the leaves or wait for the seeds. Begin harvesting the fern-like leaves approximately 8 to 10 weeks after planting. Cut the leaves close to the stem.
The flavor of dill foliage is best before the flower heads develop and when used the same day it is cut. Dill is one of those culinary herbs that loses its flavor quickly — fresh is best! Collect dill seeds as the flower heads mature. Read our article about Harvesting and Preserving Herbs to learn more.
Tip: The flavor of dill declines rapidly when exposed to cooking heat. Add it to dishes at the last minute for the best flavor and aroma.
Insects and Disease
Dill does not have many serious pest problems. However, keep a close watch for tomato hornworms, and if found, take the following common sense, least-toxic approach to pest control:
- Handpick and destroy caterpillars by dropping them in a bucket of soapy water.
- Beneficial insects including lacewings, braconoid and trichogramma wasps and ladybugs attack the eggs. For best results, make releases when pest levels are low to medium.
- If populations are high, use a least-toxic, short-lived natural pesticide to establish control, then release predatory insects to maintain control.
- Apply Safer® Garden Dust (Bacillus thuringiensis, var. kurstaki) or Monterey® Garden Insect Spray (Spinosad) to combat caterpillars.
- Roto-tilling after harvest destroys overwintering pupae in the soil. This is especially effective since pupae are large and not buried very deeply in the soil. Results have shown that greater than 90% mortality is caused by normal garden tilling.
Seed Saving Instructions
Dill will cross-pollinate, so only one type should be grown if you intend to save for seed or can be isolated by 1/4 of a mile. Dill tends to go to seed very early and seed heads can be harvested when dry. Seeds can then be separated very easily by hand.