Dill is an annual herb in the celery family Apiaceae and its dry fruit and leaves which are used to season foods. It is the only species in the genus Anethum. The botanical name of dill is Anethum graveolens. It is native to Mediterranean countries and southeastern Europe, dill is now widely cultivated in Europe, India, and North America. Its leaves and seeds are used as a herb or spice for flavouring food.
The dill plant provides feathery green leaves for the dill weed herb, while the flat, oval fruits make the dill seed spice. This weed with slender stems and soft leaves has a sweet, grassy flavour. However, it's the aroma of seeds that makes it popular. Mature plants are multi-branched and upright with finely dissected leaves. The wide, flat flowers that can make the plant top-heavy and cause it to bend over. The entire plant is extremely fragrant- the foliage and seeds are most commonly thought of as seasonings, but the flowers are also edible.
Table of Contents
2 - 8 feet
2 - 3 feet
5.5 - 7.0
Growth Nutrition of Dill
Dill grows best in a well drained, slightly acidic soil, rich in organic matter. As with most herbs, dill does not require frequent fertilizing. A light feeding of a 5-10-5 fertilizer applied once in late spring should be enough.
Types of Dill
Long Island Mammoth
This type of dill, which grows up to 30 inches, is bright, fragrant, and easy to grow. The ideal planting ground for this dill variety is towards the sun where direct and full sunlight is received, and in loose soil which typically dries well. Long Island Mammoth does great both indoors and out provided it gets enough sun. If you decide to have it planted indoors, make sure that your container is at least 12 inches deep as the dill is similar to carrots with long taproots. Its leaves are green and give off a strong flavor making it great for cooks.
Dukat dill, also known as ‘Tetra,’ is a Danish variety that is slower to bolt than other types. With an intense flavor, it’s a good option if your primary goal is to harvest the leaves for cooking. Dukat has a high oil content, which makes it especially aromatic and flavorful.
This variety tops out at about one to two feet tall at maturity, which makes it ideal for growing in a container. The leaves are ready for harvest in 40-50 days, and the seeds are good to go in about 90-100 days.
For those looking for a great variety to grow indoors look no further than the Fernleaf. This type of dill is more compact, and will generally take up less room than other varieties. This makes it very easier to grow indoors, especially where space is limited.
Fernleaf does well in mild weather areas that get a decent amount of bright, in-direct light. Most windowsills or indoor growing locations satisfy its needs. It dislikes large temperature swings, so keep it away from drafty windows and heating/cooling fixtures.
This one is easy to remember because of its bright yellow flowers. Bouquet type thrives in an outdoor setting and can grow as tall as three feet. Some can grow up to 5 feet long given the right planting and growing conditions.
The ideal location for this type is by using loamy soil which drains well. Plant your Bouquet during the spring months between March to May or during the Fall months from September to November. This is the type of dill commonly used for pickling.
SuperDukat grows at least an inch shorter than Bouquet and blooms in a slower phase too. This type is also known for its stronger flavor when compared with other types of dill.
This variety is also a good choice to grow indoors, and its relatively quick growth rate means you’ll have a consistent supply. Superdukat is also slower to bolt as compared to the usual dill types giving you a longer timeframe to harvest edible herb from it.
Similar to Bouquet, Compattos are also well known for their beautiful foliage. This type of dill is quite hardy, and can survive a bit of neglect in the watering department. It also does well in hot, summer conditions.
Compatto is best grown outdoors as it requires sun and well-draining, fertile soil. You can still grow indoors however, just make sure to provide it with enough sunlight and keep it warm. Compattos dried seeds are often used for pickling while its flowers are a great addition to a flower arrangement.
Delikat grows quickly, and can grow up to 24 inches. This makes it a great option for those that are looking for a consistent supply of fresh dill. The flowers are also bright yellow and are well known for producing a large number of seeds.
Delikat is often used for canning as well as taking the herbs for culinary purposes. It takes only about a month from planting to harvest, meaning you get to utilize this plant very quickly. In addition, another great feature of Delikat, is that it is more disease resistant as compared to other varieties.
Unlike another dill, Elephant takes some time to flower and thus you can enjoy a longer time harvesting the leaves. This type of dill is sweet and mild in flavor but strong in the aroma. The leaves are ready for harvest after two to three months.
Similar to Bouquet, this type of plant also grows very large reaching over 4 feet tall in some cases. Elephant dill can sustain light frosting and hot weather, meaning it’s quite a hardy plant. It requires moderate watering and at least six hours of daily sunlight. For a first-time grower, this dill type has moderate difficulty in terms of ease in growing, and is often best done outdoors.
The dwarf Teddy variety is another great choice for indoor growers. This is a quick growing dill variety, and is usually ready for its first harvest in 1-2 months.
It’s also quite slow to bolt, giving it a long harvest time frame. It’s small footprint also makes it a great choice for small containers, and windowsill growing.
For a striking variety that looks gorgeous the Vierling is a great choice. It takes a while to grow, but can reach upwards of 5 feet tall when fully grown.
Similar to Bouquet, Vierling is often used as part of a flower arrangement. It develops a golden yellow color, and makes a striking addition to any garden. Expect it to take at least 3 months to start showing its true colors.
Herkules also known as ‘Hercules,’ grows to an impressive three feet tall at maturity, with lots of long, arching leaves. It produces massive flower heads and is slow to bolt. The downside is that the older leaves tend to lose some flavor, and you may need to stake it because of its height. Pluck the leaves after 40-60 days. The seeds are mature in between 90 and 100 days.
Greensleeves sometimes referred to with the alternate spelling Green Sleeves, is resistant to bolting and produces an abundance of dark green leaves with a sweet, mild flavor.
It grows to a relatively compact height of 30 inches tall, and has a long harvest window. Suitable for growing in containers, you can harvest the leaves in 45 days. Seeds mature in about 100 days.
Hera is slow to bolt and has dark green, almost blue leaves. Considered a “bunching” variety, fragrant leaves mature in 40-60 days, and the seeds are ready 50 days later. Growing to a compact size of 12-18 inches at maturity, ‘Hera’ works well for container growing.
Where to Plant Dill
Best location: Plant dill in full sun; dill will tolerate light shade but will not grow as bushy.
Soil preparation: Dill grows best in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Add aged compost to the planting bed in advance of planting. Dill prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 7.0.
When to Plant Dill
Seed starting indoors: Dill seed can be started indoors 4 to 6 weeks before transplanting to the garden. Seedlings form taproots that transplant poorly so dill is most easily started and grown in place.
Transplanting to the garden: Set out seedlings after the last frost in spring. Dill forms a taproot and is not easily transplanted.
Outdoor planting time: Sow dill in the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Sow seed in rows or 5-inch bands. Dill will reseed itself readily so plant where you can allow it to grow for several years. Sow successive crops of dill every 3 to 4 weeks for a continuous fresh harvest.
How to Plant Dill
Planting depth: Direct sow seed in shallow trenches ¼ to ½ inch deep; thin successful seedlings from 8 to 12 inches apart.
Spacing: Space dill plants 10 to 12 inches apart. Space rows 2 to 3 feet apart. Dill is often grown in clumps, not rows.
How much to plant: Grow 10 dill plants over the course of the season for cooking and culinary use; sow several successions two weeks apart. Grow 20 plants for preservation.
Container Growing Dill
Container growing: Dill will grow easily in a container. Choose a container at least 12 inches deep as dill forms a taproot.
Winter growing: Dill can be grown indoors in winter. Outdoors dill will likely die back to the ground after the first hard freeze.
How to Grow Dill From Seed
Direct sow dill seeds after the danger of frost has passed in spring or start the seeds indoors about four to six weeks prior to planting outdoors. Don’t wait too long to transplant the seedlings because its taproot system makes them unhappy growing in small pots.
Plant the seedlings about one inch deep, spacing them 12 to 15 inches apart. Dill responds well to pinching the growing tip—pinching results in a bushier plant, so pinch and use your dill often.
Plant your dill in a garden location that gets full sunlight for at least six to eight hours each day. If you live in an especially hot climate, during the summer a bit of afternoon shade is fine and appreciated.
Dill plants prefer soil that is rich, loose, and well-draining. Dill is not particular about its soil pH but thrives best in slightly acidic soil. Keep in mind, dill plants have a taproot (a central dominant root from which smaller roots grow), so compacted soil could be a problem. Because dill can self-sow, it's important that you either plant it in a spot where it’s allowed to roam or where you can harvest it before it goes to seed.
Keep your dill plant consistently moist without allowing the soil to become soggy or soaked. The soil should never be allowed to dry out completely between waterings because that can cause the plant to prematurely bolt to seed.
Temperature and Humidity
Dill plants are very cold-hardy and can tolerate temperatures that dip as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. That being said, the optimal temperature for your dill plant is when the soil is about70 degrees Fahrenheit, which will happen during the late spring and summer in most USDA hardiness zones. Dill has no special humidity requirements.
Similar to most herbs, dill is not a heavy feeder. If your garden soil is rich in organic matter, your dill should require no additional fertilizer. Keeping the soil slightly lean will produce more aromatic plants.
Harvesting, Preserving and Storing Dill
When to harvest: Snip fresh dill leaves as needed during the growing season after plants have reached 8 inches tall or more. Dill leaves have the best flavor just before flowers open, about 70 days after sowing. Dill seed is ready for harvest about 90 days after sowing when seeds are flat and brown; harvest seeds when they are ripe but before they fall to the ground. Collect flower heads and hang them in a paper bag so the seeds drop into the bag.
How to harvest: Cut leaves or stems with a garden snip or scissors.
Preserving and Storing Dill
Refrigeration: Leaves will keep in the crisper for a couple of days folded into a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag
Drying: To harvest and dry seeds, collect flower heads before the seeds fully dry, shatter, and fall to the ground. Hang flower heads upside down in a paper bag to dry. Dry seed will fall into the bag. Seeds are ripe a few weeks after the flowers bloom.
Freezing: Fresh leaves can be frozen. Freeze leaves chopped or whole. For best flavor freeze leaves right after harvest. Freeze stems whole; later snip off frozen leaves with scissors as you need them and return the rest to the freezer. You can also freeze fresh dill leaves in butter or vinegar.
Storing: Dried leaves can be stored in an airtight container. Dried dill seed will keep in an airtight container.
Pests and Plant Diseases
Don’t be alarmed if you see one or more yellow, green, and black caterpillars eating your dill. It is probably an Eastern black swallowtail caterpillar—adult females lay their eggs on dill plants giving the hatchlings a ready-made food source. Dill is a favorite food of theirs, along with other members of the carrot family. The caterpillars won’t stay long, so instead of fighting to rid your garden of them, just plant some extra dill to share.
Otherwise, dill is virtually problem-free. In fact, it attracts beneficial insects to your garden—lacewings and syrphid flies will feed on the plant's pollen and lay their eggs nearby. The larvae, in turn, feed on aphids, which can cause problems for many plants.
Benefits of Dill
The presence of bioactive ingredient Eugenol in dill leaves portray potent anti-diabetic properties which play a key role in alleviating the blood sugar levels within the body. The production of insulin from the β-pancreatic cells becomes active on taking fresh sprigs of dill. It also extensively helps to reduce the breakdown of starch into glucose which in turn prevents sudden sugar spikes and provides a balanced diabetic reading.
Apart from being a potent appetizer, dill leaves characterize excellent digestive qualities. The anti-flatulent property of fresh dill sprigs reduces the formation of gas in the alimentary canal, thus reducing bloating, flatulence, and abdominal distension. The abundance of fiber in the herb helps in stimulating peristaltic motion by expelling wastes out of the body and thus make for a powerful remedy for constipation. Additionally, the antacid property of the herb prevents the formation of excessive acids in the stomach thereby treating indigestion, ulcer, gastritis and promoting better absorption of nutrients in the body.
Fortifies Bone Health
Bones form a vital part of the human body, as it gives shape, structure and support to the muscles and organs. Thanks to the goodness of calcium, iron, vitamin D, thiamine, riboflavin and fibre, dill leaves ensure proper bone cell growth, regeneration, which in turn helps in bestowing a positive structural development of the body. Adding this to daily diet enhances calcium absorption, diminishes bone loss thus preventing chronic conditions like osteoporosis.
The quarry of antioxidants and vitamin C present in this herb has been used since ancient times to battle germs and shield the body against various infections. Thanks to its strong anti-microbial properties, dill leaves are not only used for removing bacteria or germs from the body but also used for treating and healing wounds. It is also extremely beneficial in treating cough and cold, reducing general debility, weakness, fatigue and improving the overall vitality of the body.
Be it an approaching deadline at your workplace or some kind of stress or anxiety, insomnia is common in quite a few individuals in today’s sedentary lifestyle. Loss of sleep can be extremely debilitating and can lead to exhaustion, lethargy and can also disturb your physical and emotional being. The abundance of flavonoids and B-complex vitamins in dill leaves make it a one-stop natural remedy for insomnia. Adding this herb to your daily diet not only bestows a calming effect on the brain and the body by activating the secretion of various hormones and enzymes but also it reduces the levels of cortisol. Thereby, it helps attenuating stress while improving the quality, duration and providing a peaceful sound sleep.
Dill has long been associated with antimicrobial activity. Therefore, frequent use of this herb in meals may help reduce the incidence of a number of microbial infections throughout the body, as well as infections that may result in open wounds or small cuts on the skin.
Relieves Pain And Inflammation
Enriched with strong analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties of the bio-active components, the humble Dill makes for an extensive remedy from pain and inflammation in case of arthritis and joint pain. It is also used to treat painful muscle spasms, sore muscles, arthritic conditions, and other inflammatory situations. It is also extremely effective against Rheumatoid arthritis, an ailment that stems due to the vitiation of Vata doshas and accumulation of Ama in the joints.
Eases Respiratory Issues
Sanctified with powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties, Dill offers a one-stop traditional remedy for all sorts of respiratory distress. It is vital in treating the common cold, sore throat, cough and flu symptoms. It actively thins and loosens sputum particles within the lungs, chest and nasal cavities and eases breathing. It is also highly beneficial for providing faster relief from non-productive cough, asthma and other bronchial conditions.
May Stimulate Menstruation
The flavonoids in the essential oil of dill are stimulating and have emmenagogue properties, which are thought in folk medicine to stimulate the secretion of certain hormones that might help maintain proper menstrual cycles in women.
May Improve Oral Health
Dill seeds and leaves may act as good mouth and breath fresheners. Apart from that, the essential oils in it are germicidal, antioxidant, and disinfectant in nature. Due to these properties, they might help alleviate oral microbial infections and their antioxidants minimize the damage caused by free radicals to gums and teeth as well.
Improves Eye Health
Dill weed is rich in vitamin A which happens to be great for your eye health. Regular addition of dill to your foods will prevent retina damage as well as improve sight. It will also lower the risk of diseases like macular degeneration and cataract. The beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are also beneficial to eye health.
Helps With Reproductive Health
Dill is rich in vitamin A which boosts reproductive health in men and women alike. Dill has been used to comfort breastfeeding women as well. Eating dill during pregnancy is known to eliminate the risk of anemia. However, you should not use concentrated dill oil as it can cause contractions. On the other hand, eating a dash of dill pickle or a pinch of garnish will not harm you. Eating dill during pregnancy will ward off harmful bacterial infection, neutralise free-radical activity, detoxify the body, cures dysentery caused by fungal infections, and aids fetal growth by providing zinc to the body.
Dill seeds are often used in pickling.
Dill seed is used as a spice.
Use fresh dill leaves in salads and as garnishes.
Use leaves to flavor vinegar and pickles.
Yellow dill flowers can be used as you would use leaves.
Use fresh or dried seeds in salad dressing, sauces, stews, butter and cheese spreads, and egg dishes.
Dill oil is extracted from the leaves, stems, and seeds of the plant.
The oil from the seeds is distilled and used in the manufacturing of soaps.
The whole seeds and the seed oil have carminative properties and have been used in treating flatulent colic.