Are you looking for an easy-to-grow herb to add flavor and freshness to your garden? If so, look no further than dill. This versatile plant is an excellent addition for beginner or hobby gardeners.
From selecting seeds and different varieties of dill to choosing the right location, we’ll provide all the tips needed to grow this flavorful herb successfully.
We’ll also discuss common pests and diseases that may affect your plants as well as routine harvesting and pruning techniques.
So, get ready — it’s time to learn how you can easily grow dill in your own backyard!
Takeaway: When growing dill, it is essential to provide quality soil, plenty of light, and routine watering. Fertilizing every two weeks and pruning regularly will encourage strong growth. Allow seed heads to form at the end of the season to encourage self-seeding next spring.
Dill is a versatile herb that can be used in many dishes and has numerous health benefits. It’s easy to grow, but selecting the right type of dill for your garden is important. Here are some tips on selecting seeds and different varieties of dill.
Popular options include:
- Bouquet Dill – dark green leaves with a strong anise flavor
- Mammoth Long Island Dill – light green leaves with a milder taste
- Fernleaf Dill – known for its abundance of foliage
- Burpee’s SuperDill – very heat tolerant and slow to bolt (go to seed)
Where To Buy Seeds
You can purchase seeds from local nurseries or online retailers such as Amazon or Park Seed Company. Make sure you buy certified organic, non-GMO seeds if possible as these have been tested for quality assurance and safety standards.
Once you have purchased your seeds, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight until ready for planting. This will help keep the viability of the seed intact so they germinate well when planted.
Be sure to label each container with the name of the variety so that you know what you are planting when it is time.
Once you have selected the variety of dill that best suits your needs, consider where you will grow it. Knowing the light, soil, and water requirements for growing dill will help guide your next steps.
Choosing Location To Grow Dill
When choosing a location to grow dill, it is important to consider the general growing requirements of this herb in addition to its specific needs, such as protection from strong winds.
Dill Light Requirements
Dill prefers full sun for at least 6 hours each day. If you live in an area with hot summers, partial shade may be beneficial as too much direct sunlight on hot days can cause the leaves to wilt.
It’s best to choose a spot that gets plenty of sunshine but also has some protection from harsh afternoon rays.
Dill Soil Requirements
Dill does best in well-drained soil with lots of organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, mixed into it.
Make sure there are no weeds growing in the area before planting your dill seeds or transplants so they don’t compete for nutrients and moisture.
The soil should have a pH between 6 and 7 for optimal growth. While testing soil pH may sound like a complicated process, a simple meter that you stick in the ground makes it simple.
Many models, like this one, also monitor moisture, light, and nutrient levels, so purchasing one is a wise investment.
Protection From Wind
Dill is a delicate herb that can be easily damaged by strong winds that cause the stems to break or entire plants to be knocked down.
One option for providing wind protection is to plant dill in a sheltered area, such as near a building or a fence or in a garden bed surrounded by taller plants.
Another option is to use a windbreak, such as a tall fence or a row of shrubs, to block the wind and provide a more stable environment for the dill to grow.
Additionally, using a layer of mulch around the base of the plants can help to stabilize the soil and reduce the impact of the wind.
Location in Regard to Shorter Plants
Before planting your dill seeds, consider what else you’ll be growing in the area. At maturity, dill can reach heights of 2-3 feet.
This is tall enough to block sunlight for shorter plants, which can be detrimental, but it can also work to your advantage if you want protection for delicate plants that don’t tolerate hot afternoon sun well.
Choosing the right location to grow dill is essential for a successful harvest. Now that you have selected your ideal spot, it’s time to learn how to properly plant seeds and care for seedlings.
When sowing seeds, it’s critical to start with quality soil and make sure the area is free from weeds or other debris.
Once your soil is ready and all threats of frost have passed, you can begin by sprinkling the seeds over the surface of the soil and lightly pressing them down into place. You want to plant them at most 1/4 of an inch deep.
Cover them with a thin layer of compost or mulch before watering them gently. Ensure not to water too heavily as this could cause the seeds to float away.
Whenever the soil appears dry, water the area gently. Continue this pattern until seedlings emerge.
Within 2 weeks of sowing your seeds, tiny seedlings should emerge. Water them routinely, but avoid strong sprays as this could knock over the delicate sprouts.
Two weeks after seedlings appear, carefully thin the plants to 10-12 inches apart, leaving the strongest specimens in place and removing any that appear to be struggling.
I know it can be hard to rip those little seedlings from the ground. After all, they worked so hard to germinate! However, if you want strong, vigorous plants, the thinning step is critical.
One thinning trick I’ve learned is to use tweezers. This allows you to easily grasp tiny seedlings without disturbing those you wish to keep.
Dill Watering Requirements
Once established, dill plants need about 1 inch of water per week during the growing season (April through September).
Instead of watering lightly every day, water deeply every few days as this encourages deeper root growth that makes the plants more drought tolerant later in their life cycle.
Avoid overhead watering if possible as wet foliage can lead to disease problems such as powdery mildew or leaf spot that will weaken your plants over time.
Fertilizing dill is key when it comes to ensuring healthy growth, but you don’t want to go overboard with it.
Use a gentle, organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion or compost tea every two weeks during the growing season.
For an extra boost, try adding some slow-release fertilizers such as bone or kelp meals (I use this organic bone meal and always see good results) at least once per month throughout the growing season.
Be careful not to overfertilize as this can lead to nutrient burn, which will stunt the plants’ growth and possibly even kill them.
Routine Harvesting & Pruning
Once your seedlings have at least five true leaves and are about 6-8 weeks old, you may begin to harvest leaves routinely.
You can either use your fingers to pinch off what you need or cut stems with clean scissors. Take care to never harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at a time.
Pruning differs from routine harvesting in that it is used to control and shape growth.
If you’re not regularly harvesting leaves from your dill, you’ll need to prune every so often to keep growth vigorous and reduce disease risk due to overcrowding of stems.
Pests To Watch For (& Prevention Tips)
Dill is susceptible to several types of insects, including aphids, spider mites, flea beetles, cabbage loopers, cutworms, slugs, and snails.
The best way to prevent these pests from damaging your plants is by keeping your garden clean and free of debris where they can hide or lay eggs.
You should also regularly inspect your plants for signs of infestation, such as wilting, discolored, or chewed leaves and stems.
If you do find any pests on your plants, use insecticidal soap or neem oil spray (I always use this organic neem) as soon as possible before the problem gets worse.
Special Note: Dill is a favorite of the caterpillar form of black swallowtail butterflies. If you see any green caterpillars with striped black-and-gold markings, let them continue feeding and pupate. The beauty that follows is well worth losing a few dill leaves!
Diseases To Be Aware
Several fungal diseases can affect dill including powdery mildew and downy mildew, which cause white or gray powdery patches.
These fungi thrive in warm, humid conditions, so do not overwater your plants during hot periods when humidity levels are higher than usual. If you notice any signs of disease on your plant, treat it immediately with a fungicide according to package instructions.
As dill nears the end of its life cycle, it will produce pretty yellow flowers that will eventually turn into seeds.
You have a few options at this point:
- Keep removing flower heads as they appear to prolong productivity and leaf harvesting.
- Remove plants once flowering begins to make room for other crops.
- Allow the plants to die on their own before removing them and cleaning the area for the season.
- Allow the flowers to develop, and harvest the seeds once they mature. (Plant them next season or use them in recipes.)
- Leave the plants in place to allow the seeds to fall to the ground and self-seed naturally. (This is how you can keep growing dill for years to come at no cost to you!)
Key Takeaway: To prevent pests and diseases from affecting your dill plants, keep the garden clean, regularly inspect for signs of infestation, and use insecticidal soap or neem oil spray as needed.
Why Is Dill So Difficult To Grow?
Dill can be a finicky plant to grow as it requires specific conditions to thrive. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5, but it can be sensitive to overly wet or dry conditions.
Additionally, dill tends to bolt quickly when temperatures rise above 80℉, so it’s crucial to keep the soil moist and cool during hot weather.
Finally, dill is susceptible to fungal diseases if not given enough air circulation around its leaves and stems; therefore, proper spacing of plants is essential for healthy growth.
Does Dill Come Back Every Year?
Dill is an annual herb, but it will self-seed readily if seeds are allowed to mature on the plant, fall to the ground, and remain undisturbed until spring.
To ensure a longer harvest of fresh dill, sow new seeds every few weeks throughout the growing season.
How Long Does It Take for Dill To Grow?
Dill is a fast-growing herb that can be harvested in as little as 6-8 weeks after planting. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil and should be planted in early spring or late summer for best results.
When planting dill, it’s important to keep the soil moist but not soggy and to thin out seedlings once they reach 4 inches tall.
With proper care, you can expect your dill plants to reach maturity within two months of planting. You can harvest the leaves regularly until bolting occurs or frost arrives.
Does Dill Need a Lot of Water?
Dill is a fairly drought-tolerant plant, but it does need some water to thrive. It should be watered regularly and deeply, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between watering.
If the soil remains too wet for extended periods of time, dill may suffer from root rot or other diseases. For best results, keep the soil moist but not soggy, and water when the top inch of soil begins to feel dry.
Dill is a great way to add flavor and texture to your dishes, and with the right seeds, location, care, and attention, you can successfully grow your own without too much effort.
Dill requires full sun and moderately nutrient-rich soil for optimal growth, so be sure to choose the perfect location before planting.
Keep an eye out for pests and diseases, but as long as you’re watering routinely and harvesting regularly, you shouldn’t have much trouble.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh homegrown dill all season long!