If you are a fan of carefree spring days, Mediterranean cuisine, and fragrant, feathery plants, the aromatic dill is the perfect plant for you.
Dill is both a spice and an herb. The seeds are dried and used as a spice, while the feathery leaves are used as herbs.
Luckily for you, you don’t have to go to the market and buy a fresh supply of dill; you can just easily grow them in your garden.
When to plant dill? Dill does not tolerate frost, so you should plant dill seeds after the last local frost date when there’s no more threat of frost. Plant your dill in April or May for ideal results. Soil temperatures must be in the 60- to 70-degree range for your plant to thrive. Expect the seedlings to appear in two weeks.
Choosing Your Dill Variety
There are a lot of dill varieties you can choose from if you plan on growing some in your garden.
Each variety is unique in terms of flavor, looks, and purpose. Some are suited for growing outdoors, while some are best grown in containers.
Some bolt slow, while others go to seed early, perfect for bouquets or flower arrangements.
You can easily decide what is the best dill variety for you with the help of the list below.
This variety of dill is commonly used in flower bouquets because of its long stems and showy, yellow flowers, hence the name.
It boasts a beautiful collection of dark-green leaves, making it perfect as a decorative plant.
It is one of the more popular dill varieties because of these reasons. Plus, it is used to make dill pickles and tea.
Compatto is a dill variety with interesting blue-green foliage. Moreover, the dill leaf boasts a striking and aromatic taste.
The plants are heat and drought tolerant and grow up to 20 inches tall at their peak.
The best part is that you can harvest Compatto leaves as quickly as 50 days after planting.
Compatto is the perfect choice if you are planning to plant herbs only in containers.
Delikat is the variety of dill with thick, abundant but dense foliage. It is known for its heavy production of seeds and leaves compared to other varieties.
Like Compatto, it can grow up to 20 inches tall when fully mature.
You can harvest Delikat leaves 40 days after planting, while its seeds mature in about 90 days.
Dukat is a Danish dill variety that is also popularly called Tetra.
It bolts slower than other varieties but has high levels of oil. As such, it is exceptionally flavorful and aromatic.
This is the variety to pick if your main goal is to harvest the foliage for cooking.
At its peak, Dukat can grow up to two feet tall. Short as it is, it is perfect as a container herb.
You can harvest the foliage in 50 days and the seeds in 100 days.
Elephant dill is a dill variety that is also slow to bolt.
The leaves are mild in flavor, and you can harvest in 90 days. Seeds for this variety are available to harvest at 140 days.
Fully mature, elephant dill can reach up to four feet high and spread about two feet.
How To Plant Dill Seeds
Have you decided which variety to grow?
Your best bet is to visit your local garden center to know more about the kind of dill that thrives in your area.
More often than not, they also carry different varieties you can grow in your garden.
Step 1: Select an ideal location.
When choosing a location, you need to consider a few things. First, ensure that you plant your dills in a location that receives full sun on a daily basis.
You can spend your free day watching your garden on a sunny day and look for sunny spots if you are unsure of the conditions in your area.
You also need to consider a spot where you can grow dill for years to come.
This is because dill is a self-sowing plant. Meaning, it will produce seeds that will grow into new plants.
Step 2: Determine your soil’s acidity.
Determine your soil’s acidity using pH strips. Remember that dill thrives in soil that is slightly acidic, so your soil’s pH should be around 6 to 6.5.
Adjust the soil’s pH if needed. To raise it, add powdered limestone.
Step 3: Put some aged compost before planting.
Adding aged compost to your garden is the best practice before planting your dill.
Compost will prevent standing water and will naturally help dill grow. After all, we know that dill prefers well-drained soil rich in organic matter.
You don’t need to worry if you have soil that is subpar in quality. Dill will survive poor and sandy soil conditions.
Step 4: Sow the seeds.
After you have your bed prepared, you can start sowing seeds. Sow them directly in the ground, and remember to do this in April or May for best results.
Space them apart by about 45 centimeters and plant the seeds 0.6 to 0.7 centimeters deep.
Next, rake the soil so that they are slightly covering the seeds.
Like crops in the carrot family, dills do not transplant very well. That is why it is best to sow the seeds directly in your garden.
If you have little space, you can sow dill seeds in a container but make sure that they still receive direct sunlight daily.
Step 5: Sow additional seeds every month.
To achieve continuous harvest, you need to plant additional seeds every month.
This way, you can continuously enjoy a fresh harvest throughout the whole summer and fall.
How To Grow and Care For Your Dill
Here are more tips for growing dill to ensure your plants thrive throughout the years:
1. Avoid overwatering your dill plants.
Always let the soil practically dry out before watering the plants again.
While dill does not prefer a lot of water, you should still be careful not to let the soil become entirely dry. This will lead to your plants withering.
Do a daily soil check where you rub the soil in your fingers to check if the soil is dry.
If you feel that the soil is dry, add water, but avoid overwatering so that the plant doesn’t turn yellow.
2. Take time to thin the seedlings.
It is necessary to thin the seedlings 14 days after they emerge in the soil.
It takes the seedlings two weeks to emerge from the soil.
About 14 days after that, thin out the newly emerged seedlings to reduce the number of plants to one every 30 centimeters.
Choose the seedlings that seem strong and keep them. The weak-looking ones should be pulled up to give the strong ones enough room to grow.
3. Cut off the plant when it reaches a certain height.
To encourage outward growth instead of an upward one, you need to cut the top of your dill when it is around 20 centimeters in height.
This will allow the plant’s energy and nutrients to be focused on outward growth, encouraging the dill to develop an abundance of leaves and be bushier instead of taller.
It also helps the plant support its weight by preventing it from being top-heavy.
4. Remove early flowers.
To enjoy dill’s best flavor, you need to remove early blooms. It will prolong the time when the dill’s leaves grow and develop.
You can use your bare hands or get a pair of scissors to pinch or cut off the initial batch of flower heads that bloom.
5. Remove pests off of your dill.
While dill is resistant to a lot of plant diseases, it can still be prone to pest attack, more commonly by tomato hornworms and parsley caterpillars.
Regularly check your plants for pests and remove them by hand if you happen to see one.
These caterpillars are not harmful to you, but you can always use a pair of gloves if you don’t like touching bugs barehanded.
6. Pull up the weeds that shoot up.
Pull out any weeds that emerge to prevent them from stealing the soil’s nutrients, which your dill needs to thrive.
Watering your dill will also encourage weed growth, so always lookout for new sprouts every time you water your plants.
7. Support your plants in times of heavy winds.
Dill plants have a tendency to lean because they are tall plants with very thin stems.
Chances are, they will snap as heavy winds blow if you do not support them. Tie the thin stems to a stake to prevent them from snapping due to heavy winds.
You can also use a stick or a twig to replace garden stakes if garden stakes are unavailable.
How Long Does Dill Take to Grow?
Dill is an easy-to-grow plant that is readily available most of the time. Its benefits heavily outweigh the effort put into growing them.
Dill grown outdoors takes about three months to fully mature after seeding.
Although some gardeners harvest the leaves early, it is best to harvest them right before the dill flowers to enjoy the tastiest flavors.
Dill has a lot of benefits aside from being a flavorful addition to several dishes.
Some varieties are used in bouquets, while others are used as key additions to beautify a garden.
More than adding aromatic flavor, fresh dill also offers a lot of health benefits.
It is filled with flavonoids that help prevent stroke and other heart diseases. It is also a good source of vitamins A, C, calcium, and iron.
Dill is truly an herb of happiness, flavor, and good health.