How to Grow Dill Seeds
Grow Guide #2265
Binomial name: Anethum graveolens
Life Cycle: Annual
This 'How to Grow' guide details everything a home gardener needs to know to plant, grow and care for Dill (Anethum graveolens).
When to Sow Dill Seeds
Dill can be grown year-round in most climates. Avoid planting in extremely hot or cold weather which can affect germination and growth. Use the table below to identify the best time of year to sow dill in your climate.
Dill plants are best grown in full sun. Choose a location that will receive at least 6 hours of full sun each day.
Dill plants need a well drained soil enriched with plenty of organic matter. Prepare soil by weeding it thoroughly, digging it over to loosen it and adding aged animal manure or compost. Keep the area free of weeds until planting. Learn more about preparing soil for planting here.
Dill plants can be grown in containers. If possible choose a variety that’s recommended for container growing. Use a good quality potting mix and make sure your container is large enough for mature plants; a minimum of 20 litres is recommended for dill. During the growing season, keep in mind that container grown plants may need additional fertiliser to encourage healthy growth.
How to Sow Dill Seeds
Dill seeds do not require any treatment (eg soaking, stratification) before sowing.
Dill seeds grow best when they are sown directly into the garden.
- Sow seeds directly in the garden 2mm deep and 20cm apart.
- Keep soil moist but never wet or dry.
- Seeds should germinate in around 7-21 days at a soil temperature of 18-22°C.
- Young seedlings will need protection from pests, pets and weather until they are established.
Tip: Dill seeds can also be sown in the less formal ‘scatter seed’ method. Simply roughen the soil, scatter seeds evenly over the surface, then smooth the soil over lightly to cover the seeds.
How to Grow Dill
Dill plants may need watering during the growing season. Water when the soil is dry about 5cm below the surface (test this by scratching away a little soil with your finger). Water deeply in the early morning or late afternoon. Avoid watering the leaves of plants to avoid fungal diseases. Learn more about watering here.
If soil was well prepared no extra fertiliser should be necessary. In poor soil or to give your plants an extra boost, application of a high-nitrogen fertiliser or one formulated for leafy greens or herbs can be beneficial:
- Apply slow release fertiliser at the recommended rate when transplanting or when seedlings are 5-10cm tall.
- Apply liquid fertiliser at the recommended rate and frequency during the growing season.
Optional: To give plants room to grow, thin seedlings when they are large enough to handle. Pull out any weak or small seedlings so plants are spaced about 20cm apart.
Optional: Dill plants may need to be supported as they grow. Depending on the expected size and height of the plant, use a stake, bamboo cane, trellis or string lines to support plants. Make sure you have the support in place when you sow seed or transplant seedlings to avoid disturbing the plant's roots later.
How to Harvest Dill
Dill should be ready to harvest in approximately 60-100 days.
Leaves are ready to harvest when they are large enough to eat, and can be harvested as needed. Harvest leaves by pinching off the outer leaves, leaving some on the plant for future growth. The leaves are most flavoursome when harvested just before the plant flowers. Dill leaves can be stored short term in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge. For longer term storage, dill leaves can be dried, frozen or used in pickles.
Seeds are ready to harvest when the seeds start to turn brown 2 to 3 weeks after the flowers have bloomed. Using sharp secateurs or snips, cut off the seed heads and place them in a paper bag. Leave the bag in a warm, dry place for about 2 weeks. When they are dry the seeds will fall off the seed heads. Separate the seeds from the other plant material. Seeds can be stored in an airtight container.
Common Problems when Growing Dill
Like all plants, dill is susceptible to some pests, diseases and other problems. Below is a list of the most common problems gardeners encounter when growing dill plants:
- Aphids are small (2-4mm long) sap-sucking insects that congregate on the new shoots or the undersides of leaves. They can cause leaves to wilt or become discoloured, and also excrete honeydew which can attract ants and other insect pests. To manage aphids, remove them by spraying with a garden hose, apply a soap or alcohol spray, or encourage predatory insects to your garden. Read more about aphids here.
- Bolting is when a plant prematurely flowers and goes to seed. Bolting can be caused by a period of extreme weather. Avoid sowing seed until after the danger of frosts has passed or in very hot weather. Water plants regularly and deeply in hot weather to prevent them suffering heat stress.
- Damping off is caused by a fungal growth that transfers from the soil to seeds or tender seedlings. Seeds may appear not to germinate, or young plants start to rot when they emerge from the soil and become soft and mushy at the base before dying. Use new potting mix if raising seedlings, do not water foliage and avoid waterlogged soil. Read more about damping off here.
- Downy mildew is a fungal disease that causes yellow to grey-brown patches on leaves, especially the undersides. Water plants at soil level (not on the leaves), remove and destroy affected leaves and do not overcrowd plants to ensure adequate air flow. If problems persist, spray with a homemade milk spray or fungicide.
- Powdery mildew is caused by fungal spores reproducing on the leaves of plants. First showing as white spots on leaves, affected areas can spread quickly to cover the entire leaf surface. While rarely fatal, powdery mildew can reduce yields. Water plants at soil level (not on leaves) to prevent spreading spores, allow good air flow between plants, remove affected leaves and if necessary spray with an appropriate fungicide or homemade spray. Read more here about powdery mildew here.
- Slugs and snails are molluscs that feed on tender leaves and shoots, mostly at night, leaving slimy trails behind them. Control them by removing their hiding places, keeping free range poultry, collecting them by torchlight or by placing traps. Read more about slugs and snails here.