Dill is an aromatic herb widely recognized for its unique flavor and various culinary uses. With feathery green leaves and delicate yellow flowers, dill is not only prized for its taste but also for its incredible smell.
This article will discuss dill growing stages and what to expect at each stage.
Each dill plant begins as a seed. Once the seed germinates, it develops into a small dill plant, and the foliage starts to form. The plant will continue to grow its foliage and eventually produce clusters of flowers. These flowers, when pollinated, will transition into seeds, and the entire plant will begin to dry out. As the plant dries, the seeds will drop, allowing new dill plants to sprout in the following year.
So, let’s take a deeper dive into all dill growing stages.
Dill Growing Stages
Dill is an annual self-seeding warm-season herb. It is a very easy-to-grow plant, and if left to grow naturally, the fallen seeds will germinate every year. It takes approximately 20 to 35 days for dill to mature until it is ready for harvest. After that, it takes another 60 days for the plant to form seeds.
Now, let’s explore the 8 dill growth stages:
Stage 1. Sowing Seeds
The first stage of growing dill is sowing the seeds. Begin by digging approximately 0.8 inches (2 cm) deep rows. Place the dill seeds about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart along the row.
There is no need to be overly concerned about precise spacing during this stage, as adjustments can be made at later stages if necessary.
While it is better to grow dill in well-draining soil, dill is not too picky when it comes to the soil type. It can thrive in various soil conditions. This adaptability is one of the reasons why dill is often referred to as dill weed.
Stage 2. Germination
After sowing the dill seeds, germination is the next stage in the growth process. During this stage, the dill seeds undergo a transformation as they absorb water and nutrients from the soil, initiating the sprouting of new seedlings.
Within approximately 5 to 14 days, the delicate dill seedlings will emerge. Although they may initially resemble small weeds, their first set of true leaves will distinguish them from other plants. These true leaves have a feathery appearance and differ from the initial seed leaves.
Pro Tip 1: Dill seedlings do not require excessive attention. However, do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Pro Tip 2: Small dill plants are particularly vulnerable to slug damage at this stage. However, if you have overseeded, plenty of young seedlings will remain for everyone. Nonetheless, pick off any slugs you see.
Stage 3. Vegetative Growth
After the germination stage, dill enters the phase of vegetative growth. During this stage, the dill seedlings focus on developing a robust foliage structure that will ultimately lead to a bountiful harvest.
As the dill seedlings continue to grow, you will notice an increase in their height and the emergence of additional sets of leaves. The feathery appearance of these leaves is a distinctive characteristic of dill plants.
During this stage, it is important to keep an eye out for any signs of pests. Pests that may affect dill include slugs, aphids, caterpillars, and spider mites.
Pro Tip: You don’t need to thin out your dill at this stage if you plan to fully harvest it while it is midsize. However, suppose you intend to harvest the dill gradually throughout the growing season. In that case, the spacing between the plants should be approximately 10 inches (25 cm). This spacing allows certain varieties to reach their full height of 3 to 5 feet (90 to 150 cm). Adjusting the spacing will prevent overcrowding and competition for resources.
Stage 4. Harvest
Harvesting dill is an exciting and rewarding stage of the growing process. The harvesting season is very long. You can begin once multiple leaves have emerged, typically when the plant has reached a height of about 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm) until the leaves begin to discolor.
When harvesting leaves, cut them using a sharp knife or scissors, ensuring a clean cut close to the stem. Alternatively, you can gently pinch off the leaves using your nails. Avoid removing all the leaves from a single plant to allow for continued growth and regrowth.
Freshly harvested dill leaves can be used immediately in your dishes to add a burst of aromatic flavor. If you have more dill than you can use, you can store leaves in the refrigerator for up to a week. To extend the storage life of dill, you can freeze or dry them, which we will discuss in detail in the upcoming storage section.
Pro Tip: Remember, you can harvest as much or as little dill as you need at any given time. This allows you to enjoy the fresh flavor of dill in your culinary creations.
Stage 5. Flowering
During the flowering stage, the dill plant undergoes a remarkable transformation, producing multiple clusters of delicate yellow flowers at the top of each stem. These vibrant blossoms not only add beauty to your garden but also play a crucial role in the plant’s reproductive process.
The plant redirects its energy from foliage growth to flower production at this stage. As a result, the growth of new leaves may slow down or even cease as the plant focuses on developing and maturing its flowers.
Pro Tip 1: If you want to prolong the harvest of dill leaves, you can delay or prevent the flowering stage by pinching off the flower umbrellas as soon as they appear. Removing them encourages the plant to prioritize foliage growth, resulting in a longer-lasting and more abundant supply of dill leaves.
Pro Tip 2: Dill flowers are highly attractive to beneficial insects, particularly predatory species that can help control common garden pests. For instance, aphidius wasps are known to be drawn to dill flowers, where they feed on nectar and pollen. These wasps then lay their eggs inside aphids, ultimately reducing the population.
Stage 6. Pollination
During the pollination stage, the vibrant yellow flowers of the dill plant play an important role in attracting various pollinators and predatory beneficial insects. These include hoverflies, butterflies, apidius wasps, green lacewings, and many others.
As they feed on the nectar and pollen and move from flower to flower, they unintentionally transfer pollen, enabling fertilization and seed formation. Without successful pollination, the flowers will not produce seeds and will eventually wither and fall off.
Pro Tip: You can encourage pollination by planting other flowering plants near your dill. This will create a diverse and attractive environment for pollinators and beneficial predatory insects.
Stage 7. Seed Formation
The next stage of growing dill is seed formation. After the flowers have been successfully pollinated, they undergo a remarkable transformation as they close up and transition into seeds.
As pollinated flowers begin to fade and wither, small seed pods start to develop in their place. These seed pods will gradually mature and turn into dill seeds. Initially, the seeds appear green, but as they continue to ripen, they gradually transform from green to golden brown color.
Pro Tip: By allowing your dill plants to reach the seed formation stage, you have the opportunity to collect seeds for future plantings.
Stage 8. Senescence
The eighth and final stage of growing dill is senescence. During this stage, the plant ceases to produce new growth and enters a phase of decline.
As senescence progresses, the dill plant starts to dry out, and its leaves become dry and brittle, eventually falling off. This leaves behind bare stems and mature seeds.
At this stage, the seeds of the dill plant will fully dry out and detach from the plant. They may scatter around the vicinity, aided by natural dispersal mechanisms or environmental factors. These dispersed seeds have the potential to germinate and give rise to new dill plants in the following year.
Pro Tip: If you plan to collect dill seeds, it is best to do so when the stems are dry, just before the seeds detach from the plant. This ensures that you can gather seeds at their prime quality for storage and future sowing.
Once you have harvested dill leaves and seeds, it’s time to focus on preserving them for future use. Proper storage ensures you can enjoy the flavor and aroma of dill even after the growing season has ended.
Dill leaves can be stored using different methods. Here are the options:
- Refrigeration: Dill leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Countertop Storage: If you plan to use the dill leaves within a few days, you can store them on the counter. Simply place the stems in a vase or glass of water, similar to fresh-cut flowers. Ensure they are kept away from direct sunlight and heat.
- Freezing: Freezing is an excellent method to retain the flavor and aroma of dill leaves for an extended period, up to six months. Chop the dill leaves and place them in a freezer-safe container. The frozen leaves are crumbly. Simply scrape off the desired amount and return the rest to the freezer without thawing.
- Drying Dill Leaves: Drying dill leaves effectively preserve their flavor for an extended period. To dry dill leaves, tie the stems together and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area. Once completely dried, remove the leaves from the stems. Then, finely chop into smaller pieces or crumble them and store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
When storing dill seeds, ensure they are fully dried before storage. Store the dried seeds in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. This will help maintain their quality and viability for a few years.
Embarking on the journey of growing dill is a rewarding experience that allows you to enjoy the vibrant stages of its growth. From the humble beginnings of sowing the seeds to the blossoming of beautiful flowers and the formation of seeds, each stage holds its own unique charm and fulfillment.
Being a low-maintenance herb, dill doesn’t demand excessive care or attention. Simply relish its delightful taste and invigorating aroma! Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a novice enthusiast, you can confidently nurture your own dill plants and elevate your culinary creations with this versatile herb.
So, roll up your sleeves, embrace the joy of gardening, and embark on your dill-growing adventure. Let your senses be captivated by the wonders of this remarkable herb. Happy gardening!
So, here you go! All dill growing stages explained. If you have any questions, just drop us an email.
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