How to Plant and Grow Dill

Try these tips for growing dill for cooking, seeds, and flowers.

Dill image

Dill's soft ferny, frothy fronds practically beg you to touch them. Snip fresh dill weed foliage for cooking, harvest dill seed for pickling, or cut the flowers and foliage for pretty bouquets. Dill is hardy in the winter in zones 9-11 and is grown as an annual for summer harvests in zones 3-7. 

Where to Plant Dill

Plant dill in a location where it will receive at least 6 to 8 hours of full, direct sunlight each day. The delicate foliage adds textural interest to garden beds and borders, making it a pretty addition for ornamental gardens and cottage gardens alike. If you can, give your dill a spot where it will be protected from the wind. High winds could easily blow over and damage dill’s tall stalks if they are not staked.

If you are planting dill in an edible garden, place it near cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts. Dill is said to repel common brassicas pets like cabbage worms and loopers while also attracting beneficial bugs like ladybugs and bees.

Do not, however, plant dill near carrots. Dill can stunt the growth of carrots and—because they are closely related—cross-pollinate to create odd, inadequate hybrid plants. It’s also best to avoid planting dill near tomatoes. While some studies have shown that tomatoes and dill can be helpful companions when young, mature dill will likely impede the growth of your tomatoes and prevent new seeds from germinating.

How and When to Plant Dill

Dill is easy to start from seed and grows best when planted outdoors. In spring (after the last frost), sow your seeds directly into the soil, placing them 1/4 inch deep and about 1 to 2 inches apart.

Plant your seeds in rows (about 6 inches apart), or (if you want your dill plants to self-sow), plant them in clumps where the seeds can drop and grow the following year. Alternatively, if you would like to keep a continual source of dill on hand, consider succession planting. Start by sowing just a few seeds from the packet first, then a few more each week during the growing season.

Depending on the variety, dill grows 1 to 3 feet tall, so once your seedlings are about 2 to 4 inches tall, thin them to about 12 to 24 inches apart so your plants will have adequate air circulation.

You can also start dill seeds indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost and transplant the seedlings to the ground after the danger of frost has passed. Mature dill does not respond well to being transplanted so make sure you place your seedlings in a spot where they can thrive.

Dill Care Tips

This fragrant plant is easy-care, but may need help staying erect with stakes or other plants.


Choose a location for dill with full sun—at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day.

Soil and Water

Plant dill in well-drained soil. If your soil holds water due to heavy clay, add organic matter into the top few inches to help drainage. Proper watering is essential for growing dill. Keep the soil evenly moist while the seeds germinate. Once dill plants start growing, they need about 1 to 2 inches of rain or additional water per week to thrive.

Temperature and Humidity

The best temperature for dill is around 70ºF, though it's cold-hardy to as low as 25ºF.

When temperatures rise, dill tends to "bolt" and send up flower stalks to set seeds. Once this annual herb flowers and sets seeds, it dies. Keep the plant going for one growing season by removing the flowers.


Most herbs, including dill, don't need additional fertilizer. But you can apply a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer once or twice during the growing season. Use a liquid fertilizer mixed with water or scratch a time-release fertilizer into the ground at planting time. For the amount to use, follow product label instructions.


Prune dill early in the season to keep it from becoming leggy. Snip off the top leaves of the plant, which encourages lower leaves to grow more abundantly. Anything that's pruned can be used for prepping and cooking food.

Potting and Repotting Dill

Even if you don't have an outdoor garden, you can still keep pots of dill on a sunny balcony or deck. Choose a container that is at least 12 inches deep—as dill plants form a deep taproot. Clay and terra-cotta pots work well for dill because they will not retain as much moisture as plastic or glazed ceramic pots. Whatever container you choose, make sure it has excellent drainage and is large enough to keep the spacing of your plants 12 to 24 inches apart.

Dill does not take well to being transplanted, so if your plant outgrows its pot, it is best to start a new, larger container. You can continue to plant seeds into the summer if your area is not excessively warm.

Pests and Problems

Dill is very attractive to aphids and other garden pests, as well as a caterpiller called parsley worm. To rid your plants of aphids, add a few ladybugs to your garden. Parsley worms will eventually become black butterflies, so rather than destroy them, pick them off by hand. If you intend to cook with your dill, do not use chemical insecticides or weed killers on or near your plants.

How to Propagate Dill

The best way to propagate dill is to do so from seed. You can also propagate dill via cuttings, but this method is not as reliable. To take a dill cutting, choose a stem with at least 3 to 4 inches of new growth and snip it off with a sharp set of shears. Set the cutting in a container of water (removing any leaves below the water line) and wait about 2 to 3 weeks for roots to grow. You do not need to use a rooting hormone or fertilizer. After the roots have grown to about 2 to 3 inches in length, plant the dill in a container or in the ground.

To grow dill from seed, choose a large terra-cotta or clay pot (at least 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide) with good drainage and fill it with a loamy potting mix. Sprinkle the seeds on top, covering them with only about 1/4 inch of soil. Give the pot plenty of sunlight (6 to 8 hours a day) and keep the soil evenly moist as the seeds germinate (usually 1 to 2 weeks, but sometimes longer). When the seedlings are about 4 inches tall, thin them down to only one or two plants, saving the healthiest ones.

Harvesting Dill

Fresh dill weed begins to droop as soon as you clip it, so while its flower umbels look beautiful in a mixed bouquet, don't be surprised if they begin to wilt after a few hours. Don’t shy away from using them, however.  Just clip them before a dinner party or use them for short-term bouquets.

The bright flavor of dill is great with potatoes, vegetables, fish, salads, soups, stews, and (of course) pickles. To use dill in pickling recipes, consult the guidelines on the best practices. (Over-mature dill, for example, can cause your pickling liquid to turn pink.) In general, you’ll want to add two to five clean, fresh dill seed heads to each batch. Dried dill can be used for pickling, but it may not provide as good a flavor.

Dill also begins losing potency within a couple of days, so when harvesting it for recipes, plan to use it as soon as possible. Store fresh dill in the refrigerator with its stems tucked into a container of water or its leaves wrapped in a damp paper towel.

To harvest dill seeds, cut the flower stalks after the yellow blooms have faded but just before the seeds begin to ripen and loosen from the umbel. Place a small paper bag with a few tiny holes for ventilation over the entire flower head, hang the plant upside down in a cool, dry location, wait for the seeds to fall, and gather them in the bottom of the bag. Store the seeds in an airtight glass container in a cool, dry, dark place.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is dill a weed?

    Dill isn't considered a weed, but some spice companies and people refer to the dill plant as dill weed, perhaps because of the feathery foliage. Dill weed is fresh or dried foliage. Dill seed is produced from the pretty yellow umbels of flowers.

  • How do you store dill for the best quality?

    You can freeze fresh dill by placing it in water in ice cube trays. Drop the cubes into cooked dishes that can handle the additional moisture.

    Although the flavor becomes muted, dill leaves and seeds are easily dried for later use. To dry the leaves, hang an entire plant upside down in a warm, dry location until you can strip off the foliage. Or, snip the leaves while fresh, place on a plate, and allow them to air dry.

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  1. A Case Study of Allelopathic Effect of Parsley, Dill, Onion and Carrots on the Germination and Initial Development of Tomato Plants. Union of Scientists in Bulgaria-University of Plovdiv Publishing House.

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