A dwarf variety of dill, growing to only 30-45cm (12-18″), Fernleaf dill bears tidy, bright yellow umbels that quickly ripen into masses of seed. The foliage from Fernleaf dill seeds maintains its distinct aroma, and compliments fish or can be used in dill pickles. This is a good dill variety for container growing.
The structure of dill’s flowers is known as an umbel. Thus, dill is considered an umbelliferous plant. Other umbellifers include carrots, cilantro, fennel, parsnips, and Ammi. All of these plants are attractive to predatory insects such as lady beetles, Syrphid flies (hover-flies), lacewings, and tiny parasitoid wasps. Many organic gardeners like to grow dill precisely to attract these beneficial insects, as they will help control pest insects like aphids, thrips, whitefly, and the caterpillar of the Small White Butterfly (cabbage moth).
How to Grow Dill
Dill grows tall and produces lots of aromatic leaves. The umbels of yellow flowers attract numerous beneficial insects to the garden. Follow the How to Grow Dill seeds guide below and get pickling.
We Recommend: If you have the space to grow it, choose Long Island Mammoth Dill (HR1085), which is by far the largest variety, growing to 2m (6′) tall. Dill is exceptionally attractive to beneficial insects like parasitoid wasps and ladybird beetles. The more you can plant, the better your natural pest control will be.
For Urban Gardeners: Even if you are constrained by space, you can still grow Certified Organic Ella Dill (HR1024), which was bred for container growing. Ella stays compact and bushy, but still attracts all the good garden insects – plus it’s aromatic and flavourful. Grow some in your balcony herb garden.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Direct sow May to August, or sow in June, when cucumbers are transplanted, to coincide maturity for pickling. Dill tends to bolt if transplanted, so it is best direct sown. Stagger your harvest by sowing every 2-3 weeks for a constant supply of fresh leaves. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 15-21°C (60-70°F). Seeds should germinate in 10-21 days.
Dill seeds need some light to germinate. Sow seeds no more than 5mm (¼”) deep in rows 45cm (18″) apart. Thin the plants to stand at least 15cm (6″) apart.
Ideal pH: 5.0-7.0. Grow in moderately rich soil in full sun. Water and feed regularly, and stop any overhead watering once plants are 60cm (24″) tall to prevent issues with mildew forming on the leaves.
Begin harvesting the tasty leaves once plants reach 15cm (6″) tall. About 12 weeks after sprouting the seed heads begin to form. When the first seeds have turned brown, cut the whole head and hang it upside down for the drying seeds to fall out into trays or paper bags. Dill leaf loses most of its flavour when dried, so freeze it in ice cube trays filled with water for use all winter.
Usual seed life: 3 years.
Dill improves the health of cabbages and other Brassicas, and is a very good companion for corn, cucumbers, lettuce, and onions. Dill attracts ladybugs, lacewings, and the parisitoid wasps that feed on garden caterpillars. At the same time it repels aphids and spider mites. Avoid planting near carrots and tomatoes.
More on Companion Planting.
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