Growing dill is easy! The trick is to not do too much, which might explain why this is my personal favorite herb! Dill’s feathery foliage is such a delightful texture in the garden, waving in the summer breeze.
Below you will find a description of the dill plant, including its height, hardiness, and flower; light, moisture, and soil requirements ; cultivation tips for keeping your growing dill healthy and tasty; our favorites varieties; and some ideas for how to use dill in your home and garden.
Nature Note: Dill is a host plant for the Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes). These are gorgeous butterflies, so think twice before panicking if you find yourself hosting a caterpillar or two.
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An annual plant for all but the least winter-ravaged portions of the U.S., dill ranges in height from just over 1 foot to nearly 5 feet tall. Check the varieties advice below once you know where you want to put it.
Lacy dill’s feathery foliage is sometimes called “dill weed” to distinguish it from the “dill seed” produced by yellow flower umbels (umbrellas).
If you are warm enough, untended dill can create colonies, so be sure to trim the flower stalks before they go to seed—unless, of course, the seeds are what you’re growing it for.
Light, Moisture, and Soil Requirements
Light: Full sun preferred, but part sun will work just as well. Minimum of 4 hours of sun. Dill and fennel cannot be planted near each other, so take advantage of dill’s more shade tolerant stance if you need to.
Moisture: medium to dry. Freshly sown seeds will need some evenness of moisture, but older plants won’t require much.
Soil: Loose and somewhat fertile. For richly flavored leaves and seeds, do not over fertilize.
Cultivation Tips for Growing Dill
Start from seed, and sow dill directly in the ground or in a large container as it’s not fond of being transplanted. Sow seeds every two to four weeks for fresh dill weed all season long.
Do not plant dill near fennel, they’ll cross pollinate and produce strange seed flavors. Do not plant dill near a tomato either, but do feel confident interplanting it in with lettuce, beans, beets, cabbage, and dill’s cousin, the carrot.
Growing dill really loves the heat of summer, but the long days could make dill bolt early, suffering the sweetness of the leaves. To extend its life, remove the flower head before it fully develops.
Varieties to Try
We’ll start tall and work to small.
Need something huge and bold in the back of the garden? Mammoth dill is gorgeous, tastey, and will go 3′ – 5′ tall.
Can’t find Mammoth dill at your retail store? They probably have Hercules, which is an abundant producer but only reaches 3′ – 4′ tall. Hercules dill will bloom a little later than most other dills, which can be helpful is you are fairly far south.
Fernleaf dill has brighter green leaves and will not get taller that 18″. Grown mainly for its foliage (not its flowers or seeds), Fernleaf dill works beautifully in small spaces.
Dukat dill, the sweetest variety, has blue green foliage and some resistance to bolting in the summer heat. It’ll max out below 2′ tall. Dukat tastes so good, I end up sowing it many years just out in the garden, either as an edging for the carrots and beets, or in where the lettuces are fading.
Uses of Dill
Dill weed (leaves) Dried or fresh, chopped dill weed seasons lighter, earthier fare: lentils, potatoes, fish, soup. In the summer, dill weed marries perfectly with fresh cucumber dishes.
Dill seed Dill’s seeds evoke the bitter-sweetness of caraway and are used as a spice in stuffing and pickling. My best dilly beans and pickles have an entire flower head (gone to seed, of course) as the top layer in the jar.