The Right Place For Dill
Dill does best in full sun. While fairly tolerant of poor soil conditions, it prefers a sandy or loamy soil that drains well, just like most plants. Like other vegetables and herbs it prefers soil that is slightly acidic (pH 5.8 to 6.5) to help it take up nutrients from the soil most efficiently. To check soil pH, use a soil test kit.
Growing Dill from Seed Indoors
Dill is a plant that does best when it is sown directly as seed into the prepared garden bed or container. However it can be started ahead of time indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before last frost.
Fill flat shallow boxes, peat pots or seed starting equipment with moistened soilless potting mix or other seed starting medium. Sow seeds about an inch apart in the shallow boxes or two to an individual pot, and cover them with a ¼-inch layer of the moist medium. Keep them evenly moist and maintain soil temperature of about 70° F. The seeds should sprout in about 14 days.
To assure sturdy seedling stems set fluorescent lights two inches above the developing leaves. Adjust the lights to maintain this distance as the plants grow over 4 to 6 weeks. Transplant the seedlings outside 2 to 4 weeks after the final frost of the winter when the soil is warm.
For more information see Starting_Seedlings
Preparing the Soil for Planting Outdoors
One or two weeks after all danger of frost is past, when the soil has dried out a bit and warmed to at least 50°F, prepare soil for planting seeds or seedlings.
Loosen the soil down about 8 inches with a trowel or shovel or spade. Remove any stones or debris and turn it over to aerate it. If the soil is thin mix in some organic matter such as peat moss, compost or chopped leaves to improve its drainage and ability to hold moisture.
Break up any large soil clumps, then smooth and level the area. This is a good time to sprinkle some slow acting granular fertilizer on the soil and mix it in.
Starting Dill Seed Outdoors
To plant in rows, trace a shallow indentation in the soil with a stick or pencil to guide planting. Then sow the seeds by dribbling them through your thumb and forefinger into the indented rows. Plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 an inch deep. They will sprout in 10 to 14 days.
When sprouts are a few inches tall and showing their first true leaves, thin them by pulling up the weaker ones, to allow space for the remaining ones to grow. Space the plants 8 to 10 inches apart if harvesting leaves, or 10 to 12 inches apart if you wish to harvest seed. Depending on the variety, dill plants will grow to maturity and set seed in about 60 days.
Succession Planting Trick - To assure a steady supply of dillweed (leaves) plant seed in the early spring and then again in June and again in July. That way there is always some dill that has not begun to flower and go to seed.
Planting Seedlings Outdoors
Dill is available as seedlings in the spring and early summer in most garden centers. Plant on an overcast day or late in the day so young seedlings will not have to cope with hot sun as they overcome transplant shock.
Dig holes in the prepared soil in the planting area about 12 inches apart and about the size of the containers the seedlings are growing in.
Gently pop each seedling from its container by tipping it into your hand as you tap it on the bottom of the pot. Set one in each hole and firm the soil over the rootball and around its stem to support it.
Water immediately. If you have already added granular fertilizer to the soil, do not feed the plants further. However, adding some plant tonic to the water helps ease transplant shock for seedlings. This is an optional step.
Growing Dill in Containers
Dill grows very well in a container as long as it gets enough sun. It works well as a companion plant with flowering annuals such as petunias, geraniums, or marigolds. It matures relatively quickly, so you may have to replace dill plants going to seed with newer ones. Because dill grows a tap root, it is best to use a container that is at least 10 inches deep. Be sure the container has drainage holes. Fill it with moistened soilless potting mix to within 2 inches of its top.
Plant the dill seedlings in the container and water them well. Keep them out of bright sun the first day or so while they adjust to the shock of transplanting. Feed container plants once a month with a dilute general purpose liquid fertilizer when you water. Water often to prevent the container plants from drying out during hot summer days.