Dill

Dill can be a perennial in its natural habitat but in the UK it is most commonly grown as an annual in the herb garden or in a container. Dill is used to flavour a variety of dishes, including fish, potatoes and peas. Its aniseed like flavour means that a little can go a long way. Dill is often also used in pickling.

Growing dill:

Dill is very easy to grow. It will grow in most conditions and seeds germinate quickly. If sowing dill outside, prepare soil with the addition of some compost or organic matter. Scatter seeds on the soil surface outside in late April and cover with a thin layer of compost. Seedlings should emerge within two weeks. If you want the dill to grow to its full potential then thin seedlings to around 24cm apart. If you resow every 3-5 weeks this will ensure that you have a constant supply throughout the summer months.

Alternatively, dill can be grown in pots on a patio or balcony. Remember pots can dry out easily. Make sure you water the dill enough during dry periods. Dill is fairly tolerant and will survive some neglect but it will not like being dried out too much. Dill is also intolerant of weeds, so whether in a pot or in the garden, make sure to weed the area around the plants thoroughly to get rid of any competition.

Dill will be ready to harvest around eight weeks after planting. The wispy leaves of dill are best harvested by cutting the plant right down to within 3cm of its base just before the flower heads open. Plants will often regrow a second crop later in the summer. Do not fear a glut – dill keeps well in the fridge for up to three weeks or you can freeze it in individual portions for later use.

Dill is one of the few plants that will grow with fennel, but note if you wish to save seeds that the two will cross-pollinate. Dill also cross-pollinates with carrots so seed savers should not plant these close together. Note also that while a young dill plant can aid tomatoes, when it grows it will stunt the tomatoes growth, and can attract tomato horn worms, so should be moved.

Why grow dill in the garden?

Dills feathery fronds are not only delicious, they also look good in the garden. They also attract butterflies, bees and a whole range of beneficial insects, while acting as a repellent for various insect pests. These characteristics make dill a fantastic addition not just to a herb garden but also to a wildlife garden or regular vegetable beds. Due to repelling insects that are pests to brassicas, dill is a good companion plant for cabbages, broccoli and other members of that family. Lettuce is also a good companion plant for dill.

Dill is excellent for pickles and preserves, making it a key ingredient for those who are growing their own and are keen on preserving gluts for later use.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Anethum graveolens