Updated February 26, 2022 by Mark Marino
An annual herb, the dill plant is a member of the celery and carrot family known as Apiaceae. While dill seeds are used as a spice, feathery green dill leaves are used as an herb to flavor foods like potato salad and fish dishes. Fresh dill has a sweet, grassy flavor that is especially popular in the cuisines of Eastern Europe. Moreover, where would dill pickles be without this popular plant? If you’re wondering how to grow dill indoors, use the following tips to help.
Dill Plant Overview
Native to Eurasia, dill plants have a long history of culinary use. In fact, dill was found in the tomb of Amenhotep II, an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled around the year 1400 BCE, but even before this time, the Babylonians were cultivating dill in their gardens. Ancient Egyptians also believed that dill had some medical and aphrodisiacal properties. The ancient Greeks believed that dill was symbolic of good fortune and wealth, and the ancient Romans thought dill was a lucky plant.
Dill’s botanical name, Anetheum graveolens, means to calm or soothe, a reference to the plant’s soothing properties. In fact, people once chewed dill seeds to calm their stomachs as well as to freshen their breath.
Rather than growing different types of dill plants, most people either grow dill for its seeds or its leaves–or both.
Dill seeds are, technically speaking, not seeds. They are dill fruit. People can crush, grind, or use whole dill seeds to flavor brines to make pickles, salads, or braised dishes. Dill seeds are said to taste like caraway, but are sweeter in flavor.
Dill weed refers to dill stems and leaves. Some people have described its taste as a blend of anise, celery, and parsley. When growing, the foliage looks similar to the plant known as Queen Anne’s lace, which isn’t surprising as the two are plant cousins.
Growing Dill Indoors: Supplies
In order to grow dill indoors, gather the following supplies and materials:
- Dill seed or dill seedlings
- 12-inch tall container with drainage holes
- Well draining potting soil
- Plant stakes
- Grow lights (unless you have a sunny windowsill)
How to Plant Dill
To plant dill, begin by preparing your pot. A 12-inch pot is ideal because dill plants have a long tap root. Although you can plant seedlings, growing dill from seed is ideal since these herbs don’t care for being transplanted. In fact, even though dill is an annual plant, it’s largely a self-sowing plant when featured in herb gardens.
Add your well-draining potting mix to the container. You can also add coconut coir or use soilless media to grow dill. Scatter your dill seeds on top of the soil and then cover them with a shallow layer of soil–about ¼ inch deep. Be sure your seeds have enough room between them; plant dill seeds about 4 inches apart. Then moisten the soil and place your plant in a sunny window.
Caring for Dill Plants
Dill seeds usually germinate within 10-14 days. Thin seedlings can benefit from being staked. Stake plants to provide them with support while their stems develop more fully. Continue to keep plants staked as they grow; dill plants tend to fall over as they grow taller.
Use the following care tips to grow dill plants successfully:
Dill plants require plenty of sunlight. Grow dill in a window that receives, at minimum, six hours of direct sunlight. If you don’t have a sunny window, you should use grow lights to ensure your plants get optimum lighting. Your dill plant will need about 12 hours daily under your grow light in order to thrive.
Use well-draining soil to grow dill. Dill plants tend to prefer slightly loamy soil.
Water your dill plant deeply, but don’t saturate the soil. Wait until the top layer of the soil becomes dry before you rewater.
Temperature and Humidity
Dill prefers cooler temperatures, so be sure you don’t place your container near a heating vent. Your dill plants should grow well in indoor temperatures that range between 60 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Misting the soil between waterings will ensure your potted dill has the humidity it needs.
Dill does not particularly need to be fertilized. However, if you choose, you can add fertilizer diluted to half its strength from time to time.
Harvesting Dill Plants
You can harvest dill plants once their flower heads begin to bloom. Harvesting usually occurs about 6-8 weeks after you plant dill seeds. Use sharp scissors to cut the flower stalks, ideally, just before the seeds ripen. Then, you can hang the flower stalks upside down above a paper bag. The seeds will fall into the bag as the flower releases them. Poke a couple of holes in the bag to promote good air circulation.
To harvest dill leaves, you can cut them as needed throughout the plant’s growth until its flower clusters open. Use fresh dill right away or store it in a plastic bag for about a week in your refrigerator. Dill plants will lose their flavor quickly. Dried dill is also not as flavorful as fresh dill plants.
Uses and Benefits of Dill
Dill is a popular culinary herb that is widely used in Northern and Eastern European cuisines as well as many dishes popular in Middle Eastern countries. Dill flowers and seeds are used for pickling cucumbers and beets. Fresh dill leaves are used to flavor many dishes, including salads, soups, poultry, fish, and vegetable dishes.
The dill plant has considerable nutritional value with its plant compounds and nutrients like vitamin A and flavonoid antioxidants. Dill has long been used to soothe digestive complaints and may even help relieve insomnia. In ancient times, dill was used to treat conditions like arthritis and gout, which is not surprising given this plant’s natural anti-inflammatory properties.
Indoor Dill Plant FAQs
Does dill need full sun?
Yes. Growing dill indoors is challenging without access to 6 hours of full sun. However, if you do not have a sunny windowsill, you can use a grow light to ensure your plants grow tall and strong.
Can you grow dill in the house?
Yes. You can grow dill indoors in pots. Dill plants require adequate sunlight and watering. After planting dill, use the care tips above to ensure your dill grows well.