Planting Dill in your herb garden serves more than one purpose. The attractive foliage can be used to season foods, the seeds can be used for pickling, it can be used as an herbal remedy for indigestion and it attracts butterflies to your yard. What more could you ask from one plant?
Dill needs to be planted in full sun but requires moist, well-drained soil, so be prepared to keep it wet when the weather starts heating up. Depending on the variety, dill can grow anywhere from one to three feet tall and spread to approximately two feet wide. Dill is a tender annual plant and will need to be replanted yearly in your garden.
You can start dill from seed directly in the garden in early spring. It is recommended that you consecutively sow seed every two weeks until the weather heats up to insure that you will have plenty on hand. You can also purchase young dill plants at your local gardening center.
Due to its medium to large size dill should not be used as a border planting but rather somewhere near the middle of your home garden. Along with being used in an herb garden, dill would feel right at home planted in a garden of vegetables or mingling with some cutting flowers.
Dill plants prefer the cooler weather and will go to seed rather quickly in the heat of the summer. When a dill plant begins to flower, it will stop producing its foliage. If you want to prolong the production of the foliage, try pinching the flowers back as soon as you see them beginning to show. Deadheading your plants as soon as necessary, by removing the spent flowers, will prevent the seeds from scattering into unwanted territory. By letting some plants go to seed at the end of the season, you will be assured of a new crop popping up the following spring.
Dill’s blue-green fern-like foliage has a flavoring similar to anise, parsley, and celery. Dill foliage, called Dillweed, is best when used while fresh. It will lose most of its flavor once it has been dried and you will need to use a lot more of the dried version to impart the same flavor. Dillweed makes a great seasoning when used in the cooking of chicken, fish, potatoes, and even eggs.
The seeds of the dill plant have a flavor reminiscent of caraway and anise. The seeds are used in pickle making as well as crackers, cookies and breads. When the seeds are steeped with hot water, like a tea, they have a soothing effect and can help with a touch of insomnia. The tea will also help to relieve nausea and digestive problems.
The flowers of the dill plant can be used in much the same way as the seeds, especially when used for pickling. They also make lovely cut flowers for a bouquet.
The dill plant is a host plant for Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies and caterpillars. Placing them in several areas of your yard will create a beautiful butterfly haven for you and your neighbors to enjoy all summer.
Good looking and versatile, the dill plant deserves a prized place in your home herb garden.