Native to southern Europe and southwest Asia, dill is an easy-to-grow herb with many uses. Commonly known as dill weed, it has medicinal properties and is used in cooking and for pickling.
It attracts beneficial insects and pollinators, and if harvested when flowering, some varieties can be added to flower arrangements. It is also great for companion planting in veggie gardens.
Dill literally grows like a weed, and you can harvest it at any stage in its lifecycle, from a seedling until your dill plants go to seed. Ultimately, the question of when to harvest dill will depend on your reasons for growing this common herb, and what you plan to do with your crop.
How Do You Know When Your Dill Is Ready to Harvest?
Dill is a perennial herb that grows as tall as 2 or 3 feet (60-120 cm). Broadly speaking, it will mature about three months (90 days) after you plant dill seeds outside.
But you don’t have to wait for dill plants to reach maturity. In fact, most times you won’t want to wait for them to mature unless you are growing dill plants for dill seeds.
The reality is that you can continue to harvest dill plants over and over again. But the best time is to harvest before the flower heads open.
The University of California’s Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County has some invaluable information about harvesting dill. For instance, their experts warn that if you allow your dill plants to flower, the leaf will stop growing and your dill plants will die.
When to Harvest Dill Leaves
If you are going to harvest dill leaves, you can pick them as soon as they are the size you want them to be. You will find that fresh dill leaves have the most flavor if you pick them before the flower heads appear.
Once the flowers form they will bloom and then they will form seed heads.
Dill is an aromatic herb and you can add the leaves to soups and stews or use them in salads, or as a garnish. If you plan to use them for cooked dishes, it’s good practice to add them in the last stages of cooking because they lose their flavor.
Of course, you can also dry the leaves, but the flavor won’t be as intense as the leaves and seeds of the fresh herbs. The reality is that dill loses its flavor very quickly!
When to Harvest Dill Flowers
If you are growing a variety like Bouquet that we grow for its lovely bright yellow flowers, then you won’t want to let the seed heads form. Instead, you will harvest your plants when the flowers turn completely yellow.
That’s it – stick them in a vase!
When to Harvest Dill Seeds
If you are planning to harvest and dry dill seeds either to plant, use for dill pickles, or to cook with, leave the dill growing and wait until the flower heads turn brown.
To harvest seeds for dill pickles and other uses, allow the herbs to grow until the seeds in the flower stalks ripen and become a tan-brown color.
Then clip the seed heads and allow the seeds and heads to fall into paper bags. To be safe, you can also rub the seed heads to release all the seeds, and then leave them to dry on paper towels for about a week.
How to Harvest Dill
When you harvest dill leaves during the growing season for fresh herbs, clip them off close to the stem using pruning shears or secateurs. It’s best to do this in the early morning or late in the evening when there is no chance of full sun.
When you harvest for dry dill, you don’t want flowers, but you do want to remove the stems when the seeds are ripe and brown. If you are harvesting seeds, pick dill stems and remove the flower heads.
What Happens If You Don’t Harvest Dill?
If you don’t harvest dill it will simply self-seed itself and continue to grow. If the soil and other conditions aren’t good, there’s a chance that your dill plants might die.
But this doesn’t usually happen often once dill plants are established.
If they don’t self-seed, you can plant dill seeds that you have harvested, or buy seeds commercially. Either way, plant the seeds about ¼ of an inch deep in your veggie garden in rows that are about 2 feet apart.
Thin the seedlings that emerge and make sure that the strongest ones are about 10-12 inches (250-300 mm) apart. Then let the magic begin all over again!
How Many Times Can You Harvest Dill per Year?
Dill is one of the easiest herbs to grow and you can continue to harvest your plants multiple times throughout the growing season.
Can You Harvest Dill after It Has Bloomed?
The answer to this perennial question is yes and no. Once your dill plants have bloomed, they are going to die. That’s the truth!
But healthy dill plants will self-seed, and continue to produce fresh dill leaves that you can use as and when you want to.
Whether you want fresh leaves, leaves, and seeds that you can dry, or brilliant yellow flowers to add to a gorgeous home-grown flower arrangement, dill plants continue to deliver.
It’s not called dill weed for nothing! Dill is one of the easiest fresh herbs to grow. And they are a breeze to harvest.
Sow the seeds in your veggie garden and it’s likely to stick around for a very long time.
Our 2021 gardening tips for harvesting dill will show you when to harvest dill leaves, dill flowers, and dill seeds. All these elements of the wonderful weedy dill plant can be used in every possible way.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about dill is that it just keeps going. And even if you don’t particularly like its flavor, it’s a wonderful companion plant that will help to get rid of cabbage worms and other nasties that chomp our other veggies.
Why not give it a try?