‘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!
Sprouts in 2-3 weeks. Harvest from Month 3+ on.
Equivalent of 5+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 15+ mol/m²/day].
Beginner friendly. You’ll sprout, thin, and harvest.
Best Dill varieties to grow inside.
There are 13 popular varieties of dill, and we have picked out the 4 best grown indoors for you:
Particularly a good variety to grow for nice looking bunching at the market table, and works well in containers or smaller herb gardens.
‘Compatto’ is a compact variety with blue-green foliage and a bold, aromatic taste. Leaves are ready to harvest in just 40-50 days. It’s the perfect size if you’re looking for a container herb.
The best of both worlds, Fernleaf Dill offers a compact option for indoor growing and providing months of fresh herbs for your favorite sandwiches, soups, and fish dishes.
Best Setup for Dill Plants
Ceramic Self Watering Planter (preferred) or pot that is at least 4″ / 1 pint.
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).
A strong grow light that can give the equivalent of 5+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 15+ mol/m²/day].
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Preparing your Planter & Watering Schedule for Dill
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.
A Ceramic Self Watering Planter filled with a free-draining potting mix self-regulates to keep the soil on the drier side, but with a little consistent moisture (and means no watering guesswork for you). Careful of wick-based self-watering planters with Dill – as they tend to be too wet.
To set one up:
- Fill up the planter with dry soil from the bag, gently tamping down the top.
- Dump the soil into a large mixing bowl and add water until the soil is moist, but not sopping wet (about ½ Cup)
- Mix in 1 tablespoon of the Balanced Blend Plant Food.
If you are using a regular pot instead, it should be a little bit bigger (at least 4″” / 1 pint and will need drainage holes to prevent it from being over watered. Let the top of the soil dry out between watering.
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
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.
Propagating Dill: How to Clone from a Stem Cutting
If you’ve already got a Dill plant you love (or a friend does!) you can easily “clone” it with just sharp scissors and a clean glass of water. First, cut a couple 6” shoots of new growth (avoid anything woody). Next, remove the lower leaves, so the bottom half is just stem. Place in a glass of 3” of water, making sure the cut leaf spots are underwater. Place the glass on a bright windowsill and change the water every few days. In a couple of weeks, roots should emerge and you can transplant them into your container. While using additional rooting hormones won’t hurt, it’s not necessary with Dill plants.
- Cut 6” section of new growth
- Remove leaves halfway and place them in the water on a sunny window sill
- Wait 7 days for a few ½ inch roots to form and carefully transplant into it final container
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.
Where to grow your Dill plants
Like all edible plants, Dill plants need lots of light to grow and develop good flavor. Sunlight is excellent for plant growth (and free!) and you might be lucky enough to have a spot that’s got the 5+ hours of direct sun they need. Even with a bright window, it’s unlikely that you’ll have enough natural light in the winter so we recommend a grow light for anyone who wants a constant supply of flavorful produce. For an introduction to grow lights, head over to our post on grow lights for indoor gardeners. We’ve also got a buying guide for screw in types, but to keep things simple in this guide, we’ll just provide directions for the 24W Screw in Bulb by Sansi, which we think is a good middle-of-the-road option.
How bright should your grow light be?
Dill plants need the equivalent of 5+ hours of direct sunlight [DLI of 15+ mol/m²/day] to grow their best. In order to provide an equivalent amount with a grow light, it needs to be pretty bright! The 24W Sansi bulb should be placed 6 inches away from the top of the plant. This will give your PPFD (the standard measure of brightness) of 500 μmol/m²/s.
How many hours per day do your Dill plants need under a grow light?
Dill plants are known as “long-day”. When they sense over 12 hours of light per day, they’ll start the end of their lifecycle and work on making seeds. We want to keep them in an earlier stage so we can keep harvesting the leaves, so we recommend setting up a timer to leave it on for only 10 hours per day.
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.
Week 2-3: Check for 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 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
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.
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.
Shop This Blog
The right supplies can take the guesswork out of caring for your plants – and turn care from a daily to weekly routine. Through our grow tests, we’ve found these products to produce the best indoor Dill (and also have simple maintenance). Plants are adaptable and can grow in many different conditions, so they are by no means necessary if you already have other supplies.
Best Containers for Dill: Ceramic Self Watering Planters
Plants thrive on consistent moisture but can suffer if they’re waterlogged. A semi-porous ceramic self regulates ideal conditions. Our favorite is the COSWIP planter. Runner up is XS Self Watering Planter by Wet Pot.
Best Soil for Dill: Free Draining Mix
Dill needs a drier environment – so you are better off using a free-draining cactus potting mix – we like this Organic Mix by Espoma.
Best Nutrients for Dill: Balanced Blend followed by Herb & Lettuce Blend
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
Best Light for Dill: DIY or Soltech
There is a very small chance that you have the bright windows needed to grow these without a grow light. If you are looking for a higher-end option – we love the Aspect Light by Soltech. For a more affordable option, a DIY setup using a 24W Screw-in Bulb by Sansi with a Clamp Light and Mechanical Timer works well too. Check out our complete guide on a DIY setup for less than $40 or our buying guide for screw in bulbs.