Gardening can be challenging when you don’t have access to full sun in every corner of your yard but would still love to grow fresh herbs such as dill. Is it possible, or are you stuck with bringing home dill sprigs from the grocery store forever?
Can you grow dill in shade? Dill can successfully be grown in areas of light shade. The plants may not reach full size or grow full and bushy, but they will survive if given proper care, and there will be enough growth to harvest periodically. Varieties to try include Mammoth, Bouquet, and Fernleaf.
In the following, you’ll learn exactly what you can expect when growing dill in shade or partial shade and some tips for achieving optimal growth in less-than-ideal conditions. Let’s get started!
Growing Dill in Shade
While it prefers sunny locations, dill will still grow well in shadier spots. However, when growing dill in shade, there are some things to keep in mind.
Dill’s Preferred Lighting
Dill needs at least four hours of direct sunlight daily to thrive but performs best with six to eight hours of sun each day.
Some varieties of dill do better in full sun than others. For example, Bouquet dill is more tolerant of shady conditions while Mammoth Long Island does best when grown in full sun.
If you’re planting your dill in an area with less than four hours of direct sunlight each day, you may need to supplement with artificial lighting such as fluorescent or LED bulbs. This will help ensure that your plants get enough light for healthy growth and development.
When growing dill in shade, expect slower growth than when grown in full sun. The plant may not reach its maximum height or produce as many leaves as it would if grown under more intense light levels.
Additionally, the flavor of the leaves may be milder than those grown under full sun conditions due to reduced photosynthesis activity from lack of sufficient light exposure.
What To Expect With Dill Grown in Shade
When growing dill in shade, you may not get the same results as when growing it in full sun. Here’s what to expect with dill that is growing in the shade:
Dill grows slowly when planted in partial or full shade. It will take longer for the plant to reach its mature height than if it were planted in direct sunlight although the growth rate of dill can also be affected by soil type, temperature, and moisture levels.
Dill typically reaches a mature height of between 3 and 4 feet tall when grown in full sun; however, this number decreases significantly when grown under shady conditions.
Expect your dill plants to only reach 1 foot tall or slightly more at maturity if they are receiving less than four hours of direct sunlight per day.
Also, instead of seeing tall, bushy dill, you may find that your plant is lanky and thin due to the lack of sunlight.
You should expect your harvest time to come later than usual if your plants are being shaded from the sun during most of the day.
Under normal conditions, you can start harvesting dill about six to eight weeks after planting. With shaded dill, however, you may not be able to harvest even lightly until the plant is closer to being three months old or more.
Shade-grown dills tend to have a milder flavor profile compared to those that are exposed directly to sunlight throughout their growth cycle.
However, some gardeners find this difference barely noticeable once cooked into food dishes or added fresh as garnishes onto salads or other meals.
How To Encourage Dill Growth When Grown in Shade
Growing dill in shade is possible, and with the right techniques and tips, you can still enjoy a bountiful harvest. Here are some of the best ways to encourage growth when growing dill in shade:
1. Choose Your Dill Variety Wisely
Certain varieties of dill do better than others when grown in shaded areas, so make sure you choose one suited for those conditions (see recommendations below).
Depending on your unique environment, Mammoth, Fernleaf, and Bouquet dill are likely your best candidates.
Last year, I had great success with Mammoth dill in a corner of my garden that only gets about 4 hours of direct morning sun.
This situation turned out to be ideal because the dill was shaded from the harsh afternoon sun and, as a result of the cooler location, was slower to go to seed!
2. Use Reflective Materials
Utilizing reflective materials such as aluminum foil or white plastic sheeting around your plants will help reflect light onto them, which can help increase their growth rate even if they’re not getting many hours of direct sunlight.
3. Add Supplemental Lighting
If possible, adding supplemental lighting is an effective way to give your plants more energy and encourage better growth rates while in shade.
You could try using grow lights or LED bulbs that are specifically designed for gardening applications. Just be sure that the lights and wiring are protected from the elements.
4. Prune Regularly
Pruning and/or harvesting regularly help keep your dill healthy by eliminating sections that may be blocking light from reaching other parts of the plant and encouraging new shoots to form, which leads to fuller foliage and better production over time.
TIP: Harvest dill early in the morning when flavors and essential oils are at their peak.
5. Routine Fertilization
Fertilizing regularly is essential for encouraging strong root systems and the overall health of a plant grown in shady conditions, particularly dill, which has a shallow root system compared to other herbs like basil or oregano.
An all-purpose, slow-release vegetable and herb fertilizer, like Miracle-Gro Performance Organics, applied according to package directions is ideal.
Dill Varieties To Try
When growing dill in the shade, you’ll want to choose varieties that are specifically bred for this purpose.
Some of the best options include Bouquet, Fernleaf, and Long Island Mammoth. These varieties have been developed to thrive with less sunlight than other types of dill. Other options include:
- Delikat Dill
- Compatto Dill
- Superdukat Dill
- Herkules Dill
- Teddy Dill
Herbs That Grow in Full Shade
Parsley does not require direct sunlight all day as many other herbs do. Chives also work well in the shade as they prefer cooler temperatures.
Other herbs for shady areas include:
- Lemon balm
How Tall Does Dill Grow?
Depending on the variety, dill can reach heights of 1-3 feet with some varieties reaching as high as 4 feet.
When grown in full sun, dill will usually reach its maximum height by midsummer; however, when grown in partial shade, it may not reach its full potential size until late summer or early fall.
Does Dill Self-Seed?
Dill produces clusters of small, yellow flowers in the summertime that turn into seed heads as the end of the growing season draws to a close.
When the seeds are ripe, they drop to the ground and can easily germinate if conditions are right. Dill will continue to reseed itself year after year as long as it has a suitable environment for growth.
Now that you know that growing dill in the shade is possible, don’t let lack of sunlight keep you from growing this tasty herb!
Provide the most ideal growing conditions possible, and your efforts will soon be rewarded. Just keep your expectations realistic, and be patient as your dill does its best with what it was given.