Dill

(Anethum graveolens)

Description

Dill is a fairly tall herbaceous plant in the family Apiaceae that branches alternately from a central stem. The stem is hollow and green with lighter stripes running the length. The leaves branch into many long, thin divisions with circular cross-section and have a generally wispy appearance. Flowers are small and yellow arranged in clusters around a central stem to form an umbrella-like structure (called an “umbel”). Seeds start our as small green pods, about the size of a grain of rice but wider, and mature as dark brown disk-like structures a few millimeters across.

A large umbel of dill flowers

Cultivation Tips

Dill is fairly easy to start from seed and easy to grow. Sow the seeds from May through June half an inch deep in rich, well drained soils with full sun. When plants are about 10” tall, begin to harvest the leaves and use fresh or hang upside-down to dry. When seeds turn tan/brown, cut the entire umbel off the plant and place upside-down in a paper bag. After a few days to a week the seeds should fall off into the bag. After another week of drying in the bag, they can be stored in an air-tight container for future use or planting. Dill seeds that fall to the ground are fairly likely to germinate if weather permits.

A young dill plant that seeded itself here.

Uses

Dill is a must-have herb for soup stocks and broths. It can also be added to various savory dishes, used to flavor dough, used for pickling, or as an attractive garnish.

The flowers attract many pollinators and predatory insects that help increase fruit-set and protect other plants. They make good companion plants for brassicas, cucumbers, onions, and lettuce [85, 86].

Dill is also eaten by the caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly, making it useful for butterfly gardens.

A black swallowtail caterpillar munching on the dill

Friends

Cucumber, Corn, Broccoli, Cauliflower, ArugulaLettuce, Onions