Dill is an annual that is best grown in rich, light, well-drained soils in full sun. Plants are more apt to fall over in part shade. Shelter plants from strong winds. Close-planting, stakes or cages may be used to provide support. Best growth occurs in cool summer climates. Plants appreciate consistent soil moisture. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. Plants tend to bolt when conditions remain dry. Sow seed directly in the ground just before the last spring frost date. Seedlings can be difficult to transplant, so seeds are usually not started indoors. Additional seeds may be planted every two weeks until early summer for purposes of extending the time when fresh leaves may be harvested. Dill seed may be harvested by placing the seed heads in paper bags to dry about 2-3 weeks after flowering (this method will also help prevent self-seeding in the garden). In St. Louis, a patch of dill will usually self-seed and produce new plants each spring. Dill may also be grown in large containers (deep roots of dill need deep containers).
Dill is an annual that is frequently grown in herb, vegetable and flower gardens not only for harvest of its aromatic leaves and seeds, but also for ornamental display of its attractive foliage and flowers. Although native to Asia Minor and the Mediterranean, dill has now been widely planted around the globe, with naturalization having occurred in parts of Europe and North America. Dill typically grows to 3-5' tall on stiff hollow stems clad with aromatic, lacy, delicate, blue-green leaves that are pinnately divided into fine, thread-like segments. Taller plants may flop and need protection from strong winds. Scented, yellow flowers bloom in mid-summer in large, flattened, compound umbels (each to 10" diameter). Flowers are followed by aromatic seed. Leaves usually have the best flavor around the time when the flowers first open. Although leaves may be dried or frozen for later use, the leaves have by far the best flavor when harvested fresh from the garden. Dill attracts a number of beneficial insects to the garden (e.g., bees, wasps, butterflies, lacewings, tachinid flies, hover flies and lady beetles). Dill is a larval plant for the black swallowtail butterfly. Common name of dill reportedly comes from the norse word dilla (to lull/soothe). In colonial America, dill seeds were sometimes called meetinghouse seeds because they were on occasion given to children to chew during long church services.
No serious insect or disease problems. Blight and aster yellows can cause significant damage. Watch for aphids and tomato hornworms.
Commonly grown in herb gardens, vegetable gardens or flower borders. Also may be grown in containers. Dill leaves add subtle but distinctive flavor to a variety of dishes including fish, vegetables, soups, salads, sauces, breads, and herb butters. Dill seed is more pungent than the leaves and is the primary flavoring in dill pickles. Dill seed is also used in vinegars, sauerkraut and for flavoring root vegetables. Dill seed can be used to make an excellent tea. Flower heads are excellent in dried arrangements.