How to Grow Dill Outdoors
‘Dill’ is derived from the Norse word ‘dilla’, meaning ‘to lull’ and the plant has been used medicinally since the Middle Ages, often to treat digestive problems and diseases. Chill with dill! In this blog, we’ll be talking about everything related to growing dill outdoors, from basic facts, supplies, setup, and steps to grow, care for and harvest it.
Dill sprouts in 2-3 weeks. They can be harvested from Month 3+ on.
Your outdoor dill will require an equivalent of 5+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 15+ mol/m²/day].
Growing dill plants outdoors is very beginner friendly, but it can involve a few more steps compared to growing it indoors. You’ll sprout, thin, prune, harvest, and maybe try to get rid of pests and other problems from time to time.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Ways to Grow Dill Outdoors
Growing Dill Outdoors Using Soil
Dill plants don’t do well in moist soil conditions. The roots are not accustomed to being too wet and will rot in boggy conditions. On the other hand, if the soil dries out completely the roots will die back and the plant won’t recover. This can catch you off guard because the plant’s not very expressive (its leaves don’t wilt) so it will look fine right up until it dies.
You have two options to choose from when growing dill outdoors:
- plant directly onto soil, or
- use a container - with drainage!
If you prefer planting directly onto soil, you can use potting mixes you can buy from stores or online, or you can also create your own. In this blog, we explained how to create your own potting mix. Just remember that herbs such as dill thrive more in nutrient-dense soils, so if you don’t have that, you can also look into incorporating plant foods or fertilizers.
We prefer using containers as we have more control over the growth of herbs by using this method. Take note that if you opt for containers, they should have good drainage as herbs such as dill thrive well in this kind of environment.
If you’re not sure what size of pot or container to use for your herbs, check this out.
You can also see the table comparison below about the pros and cons of soil and containers:
Soil (in ground)
Other Ways to Grow Dill Outdoors
Best Gardening Zones for Growing Dill Outdoors
Dill are most recommended to be grown in zone 5a regions, but they can also be grown well in zones 2-11. Even though you can grow dill in warmer temperatures, they are also cold-hardy and can tolerate colder temperatures.
You can also check out how to grow dill indoors if you’d like your dill plants to be transplanted or grown indoors instead.
Care and Maintenance of Dill Outdoors
Light Requirements for Growing Dill Outdoors
Like all edible plants, Dill plants need lots of light to grow and develop good flavor. Since you’ll be growing them outdoors, you just need to make sure that they would be put in a very bright place that gets at least 5+ hours of direct sunshine. You also have to keep in mind the positioning of your plants, they should be in a place with unobstructed sunlight.
Right Temperature for Your Outdoor Dill
Dill Plants Grow Faster in Warmer Temps
Dill plants are called “warm-weather crops” and will speed up their metabolism when temperatures are warmer. On the other hand, if things get too hot, they’ll wilt and become prone to disease. Ideal temperatures are around 70°F but anything between 60 and 90°F grows well.
Water and Humidity
Herbs such as dill thrive on an adequate amount of moisture but can suffer if they’re waterlogged, so make sure to water them just enough, especially if you’re using soil. To avoid your dill being waterlogged, make sure to use a pot with drainage, or you can also use ollas to help with drainage, as mentioned above.
Nutrients and Fertilizers
Dill likes to start with nutrients that are equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (with NPK numbers like 10-10-10). For this Balanced Blend we recommend: Dr Earth All Purpose
Once they are growing, it’s better to use plant food that is high in nitrogen (with NPK numbers like 10-5-5). For this Herb Blend, we recommend: Joyful Dirt All Purpose
When to Move Your Dill Plant Indoors
Dill mostly thrives in warm temperatures but can be very cold-hardy as well, just as we mentioned above. We suggest moving your dill plant indoors only when the temperature is too cold for them to endure (or when it hits below 25 degrees Fahrenheit). To learn more about how to grow your dill indoors, check this out.
Common Problems with Growing Dill Plants Outdoors
As you’ll be growing your dill outdoors, you need to keep in mind that you might encounter pests. The most common pests for dill are aphids, cutworms, and armyworms.
To learn more about managing these pest problems for dill, check this very educational article out.
Growing plants outdoors or indoors can also bring risks to your plants to have diseases, such as CMD, leaf blight, damping-off, and mildew.
Timeline and Steps on How to Grow Dill Outdoors
Best Setup for Dill Plants
Below is the best setup (and a very easy one!) for growing your dill plants outdoors. You’ll need:
Best Planter for Dill:
Ceramic Self Watering Planter (preferred) or a pot that is at least 6". Raised beds and ollas can are also great choices.
Free Draining Mix
At the start: Balanced Blend. This should be equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (with NPK numbers like 10-10-10).
Ongoing: Herb Blend. This should be high in nitrogen (with NPK numbers like 10-5-5).
Starting your Dill: Seed vs Cutting vs Nursery Plant
New Dill plants can be started from seed, propagated from an established plant, or purchased live at many garden centers. We prefer to sprout from seed or propagate from a stem cutting, as it results in plants that are adapted to your growing conditions and limit the chances that you accidentally bring home pests.)
How to Plant Dill Seeds Outdoors
Dill grows quickly from seed. Plant 3 sites in a 4" / 1-pint container. In larger containers, space sites 3" apart. For each site plant 2 seeds 1/4 inches deep. Keep the soil warm ( 60-70°F, ideally 65°F). Sprouts typically appear in 14 days but can be as quick as 10 days or as long as 21 days depending on your conditions.
How to Transplant Dill
Live starter plants give you a big jump start on your first harvest. When you’re in a garden center - pick the bushiest plant available (tall and lanky ones will be weak growers) and give it a good inspection for pests. Leaves should be dark green without holes, spots, or curled edges. A best practice is to actually “quarantine” your plant for about a week after bringing it home to make sure it's free and clear of ride-on pests.
Ensuring it’s pest and disease-free it’s time to transplant your seedling into its final home.
- Remove some soil from its final planter - leaving enough space for the bottom of the seedling to be just higher than the soil surface.
- Hold on to the base of the stem with one hand, and turn the pot over while gently pulling the seedling. Giving the pot a few squeezes can help dislodge it.
- Place in its final container and fill around it with soil so that it’s tight, but not compacted.
Week 2-3: Check for Dill Sprouts
You could see seedlings in as little as 10 days (though 14 days is more typical). If it’s been 21 days and you still don’t have any sprouts, it’s likely that your setup is too cold.
Week 3: Thin Your Dill Seedlings
Thin your planter to only have 1 seedling per site - leaving the largest plant. If you are using the reccomended planter (at least 4" / 1 pint) this will mean you’ve got 3 plants after thinning. By getting rid of the smaller seedlings, you’re allowing the biggest and strongest one to flourish by reducing its competition for water, food, and space.
If your seedlings are under 1 inch, stretching out, or folding over, it’s likely that they don't have quite enough light.
Week 8: How to Prune Dill Plants
You’ll notice how all the stems and leaves of Dill grow from a single, central point (called radial growth). The plant puts out new leaves in the center and pushes old leaves outward, getting bigger and bushier over time.
Pruning and harvesting are one-in-the-same with Dill. Once the plant at least 3 separate stems coming from the base take one of the outside leaves and cut it close to the base (½” above is fine).
It’s good to leave at least 2/3rds of the plant left to regrow. If you only want a tiny amount of herbs, you also can clip the top of an individual stem – just be sure to leave some leaves on that stem, otherwise it won’t grow back.
Month 3+: How to Harvest Dill
Cut the stem clear to the base - only cutting what you can use fresh. Each time you cut, new stems will come in to replace them - kind of like mowing the lawn.
How to Use Your Freshly-harvested Dill in Cooking
Dill’s feathery herbs are commonly used around the kitchen to spice up many types of dishes. They can be used in many ways such as:
- Added as a garnish to soups
- Spicing up your pickles
- Toppings or added flavoring for bread and other dishes
Check out some more of our favorite dill recipes here.
How to Preserve Dill
There are several ways to preserve or keep your herbs fresh, and here are just some of the easiest and the ones we recommend the most:
- Lazy person technique. It involves keeping the fresh herbs in their original packaging and simply storing them in the fridge.
- Storing the herbs in a glass of water inside the fridge. You can do this by cutting the end of the stem of your herb, filling a glass jar or cup with water, and placing your herb inside. Almost like a vase or bouquet of herbs!
- Keep in a glass of water under natural lighting.
- Wrap loosely in a damp paper towel.
- Freeze them herbs! Yes, you can freeze fresh herbs such as dill to use at a later time! All you need are some ice cube trays and a freezer, and you’re all set.
Learn more about how to preserve and keep your herbs and dill fresh here.
Month 6+: End of Life
Once your dill plant is mature, it’ll decide that it’s time to make seeds & die off. Delay this by clipping flower stalks as soon as you see them. It’s best to catch them as early as possible.
If you’d like to learn about the dozens of other herbs, fruits, and vegetables that you can grow outdoors then grab a copy of our free eBook below.
We hope that this blog has given you everything you need to know about growing dill outdoors. In case you have any questions, just leave a comment below.
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