Dill - Anethum graveolens

Dill - Anethum graveolens

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Dill is a perennial plant, native to the Mediterranean; produces small shrubs 60-80 cm high, with thread-like foliage, light green, very aromatic; in late spring it produces large umbrella-shaped inflorescences, golden yellow. The plant generally has a short life and is grown as an annual. It does not require special care, it is sufficient to prepare a soil in the sun in spring, working it with the addition of mature manure, then sow the seeds directly. Once the seeds have sprouted we guarantee at least 5-8 cm of space between the plants by thinning them and removing the smaller and slender ones.


Dill is an aromatic plant of simple cultivation and very interesting for its culinary uses. In Italian cuisine it is used rather rarely (often it is preferred the similar wild fennel), but it is more popular in Central Europe and Scandinavia.
It has a very delicate flavor, intermediate between that of fennel and that of anise. It goes very well with fish (the classic combination with salmon), but also with cheeses, pasta, marinades and sauces. It is mostly used fresh. Its aroma in fact does not resist heat very much; moreover, given the beauty of its leaves, it is very often used as a decorative element, to give a touch of freshness and color to the dishes.
It can turn out to be just as interesting in the garden, for the vivacity and vaporiness of its leaves and for the ability of its umbrella-shaped flowers to attract pollinating insects, such as butterflies and bees.
We can therefore take it into serious consideration for an aromatic corner, for the vegetable garden, but possibly also inserted wisely in a mixed border.


Cultivation difficulties

Water needs medium
Growth rapid
Propagation Mostly through seed
Rusticitа Semirustica, but cultivated as an annual with scalar sowing
Exposure Full sun, half shade-light shade in the Center-South
Place of cultivation Full earth or vase
Ground Rich in organic matter, well drained and rather dry, possibly neutral
Pests and diseases Shreds and snails, rotting of the collar


The dill was used in ancient times as a digestive, the seeds were used, chewing them, to cool the breath; it has tonic and digestive properties; it was used as a medicinal plant already by the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans.

How to use it

Nowadays dill is used throughout Europe, Asia and North America; its leaves and seeds are consumed.
Dill leaves are used fresh, chopped, to flavor salads, sauces, fish or vegetables; during the winter they can be dried or placed in a freezer, for use during the year.
The seeds are used instead to flavor sweets and drinks.
The main use of dill leaves is in salads, both in salads of fresh leaves, and by adding a bunch of dill to the boiled potato salad; another very famous use is in combination with salmon: the dill is used fresh or dried to directly flavor the meat of the fish being cooked, or to prepare sauces with which to season the fish once cooked.

Characteristics Dill

The dill is a herbaceous mostly annual (and occasionally, in areas characterized by mild winters, biennial) belonging to the Apiaceae family. It is characterized by long taproots and erect stems with a striped section. At the top they are divided into numerous secondary stems. The leaves are formed by filiform segments of bluish-green color less than 1 mm wide and 2 to a maximum of 4. The inflorescences, produced from June to August, have the shape of umbrellas and in turn are subdivided into other small umbrellas. The single flowers are yellow-greenish and are an irresistible attraction for bees.
After pollination, around September, fruits develop with wings (and are therefore usually carried by the wind). They have an oval shape of about 3mm in length, flat and dark brown. They too are aromatic and can be used like those made from fennel (therefore to give aroma and flavor to herbal teas, baked goods or even in combination with fish and meat). In Northern Europe and the United States they are traditionally used to flavor pickled cucumbers.

History and habitat

Dill is spontaneous all over Southern Europe, even if it is of Asian origin. Probably arrived on our continent in ancient times and established itself there without encountering obstacles. In Italy it grows freely (even if it is rather rare) in the north-eastern regions and in some of the center (Abruzzo, Molise and Marche). It is found in the spontaneous state also in Austria, in the South of France and in the Balkan area. The ideal habitat is found between 600 and 1000 meters above sea level, especially in meadows and uncultivated areas. It is well suited to both calcareous and siliceous soils with mostly neutral pH.
This aromatic was already known and used in ancient times. There are many references in some Egyptian papyrus dating back to around 5000 years ago. It was used as an effective remedy for migraines. For the Romans it was a symbol of vitality and gladiators used it extensively, especially before descending into the arena.

Where to place the dill

The dill grows well where there is a light, well-drained and basically dry soil. To develop at its best, it always wants sunny and warm exposures. At the same time, however, it must be sheltered from the wind because its stems are very fragile and breaks are frequent.
We can therefore choose to place it in a mixed border, in a vase (medium-sized balconies too) or in the garden or in a corner totally dedicated to aromatic plants. It goes well with cruciferae (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts), lettuce, onions, cucumbers and coriander.
On the other hand, the proximity of other Umbelliferae such as carrot, parsley and fennel is not particularly appreciated.

When and how to sow dill

Direct sowing takes place from April to July by placing the seeds at a depth of about 1 cm. It is then covered with light soil, containing a lot of sand, and it is vaporized abundantly repeating several times a day until germination (usually it takes about 20 days). The ideal distance between one plant and another is about 50 cm.
We wait for them to emit the first true leaves and we cimano to around 25 cm from the ground. In this way we will stimulate the production of other basal jets and obtain a plant that is more compact and resistant, especially to the winds.
However, it can also be sown in pots or boxes, practically at any time of the year (especially if the leaves are always available). Indeed, in this case it is good to proceed at least every two months, with a scaled seeding, to always obtain seedlings at their maximum degree of development.
To ensure germination in the home or in the greenhouse it is good that the room is well lit and the temperatures are around 18 ° C.
We always sow in the definitive cultivation vessels because the dill has a deep taproot that makes it difficult if not impossible to repack or transfer small plants.
The seeds maintain a good germination capacity for about 3 years.

Leaf color Green with tones towards the glaucous, deciduous
Flower color yellow
Height From 30 to 150 cm
Width About 50 cm

Crop care

Dill does not need special attention.
We irrigate only when the soil is completely dry, even in depth. Usually, in full ground, it becomes necessary only in the hottest months.
We take the leaves regularly and try to eliminate the flower stems to prolong the production period as much as possible.
We always keep the ground clean, often using weeds. We will therefore avoid the advent of infested plants that could suffocate our plant.
We always eliminate flowers if we want to avoid excessive self-dissemination, as long as they do not interest us for decorative purposes or to attract insects.

Species and varieties

In Italy it is an aromatic used rather rarely. As a result, only the species is generally found on the market. However, there are also quite interesting cultivars and subspecies, both for their colors and for the smaller dimensions that make them even more suitable for growing in pots, on the balcony or on a windowsill.



All the year. Sheltered in winter

June. July August

From April to October

Pests and diseases dill

The most fearsome pests are surely the snails and the slugs that, in a short time, can destroy an entire plant. We can prepare beer traps in advance or put some ash or fine sand around it. In extreme cases we can use a specific lumachicida.
The rot of the collar is also quite frequent. To avoid this it is of fundamental importance to cure drainage and irrigate sparingly.

Dill harvest

The leaves of the dill are harvested at the time of need, since they do not last long and in any case preferably before flowering.
The seeds are harvested instead in autumn and can be stored both for future plants and for culinary purposes: the whole umbrellas must be picked and hung upside down by spreading a cloth underneath, so as to recover the grains as they fall .


- Some butterflies, and in particular the caterpillars (from the bright colors) of papilio machaon, live in symbiosis with the Apiaceae (and therefore also with the dill) feeding before the metamorphosis of their leaves and forming us then above the cocoon. It is certainly one of the most beautiful insects to observe in Italy and it is therefore recommended, for all nature lovers, to insert these plants in their own soil in order to favor their diffusion.
- the dried leaves of the dill can be used alone or in combination with those of other aromatic herbs to perfume linen and cabinets.

Consumption and gastronomic curiosities

Dill leaves should be finely chopped on plates, always at the end of cooking and over low heat because its aroma resists heat very little. It goes very well with green salads or fruit salads. With its fresh dill notes it is perfect to be added to sauces, marinades, eggs and white meats.
In Norway it is considered the national spice: it is widely used to flavor salmon, trout, herring, potatoes and even makes a liqueur. The seeds are used for the preparation of bread, in pastry and for meat.
In India it is commonly combined with spinach and other leafy vegetables. Flavor the rice and crushed and powdered seeds, sometimes entering the curry composition.

Dill - Anethum graveolens: Dill sauce

To accompany fish, eggs or potatoes you can prepare delicate dill sauces; the simplest is to mix a bunch of finely chopped dill with mayonnaise, to obtain a very aromatic cold sauce.
Instead, if you want to prepare a hot sauce, put in a saucepan a tablespoon of butter and one of flour and let it brown, cover with fish or vegetable broth and bring to a boil, stirring with a small whisk to prevent the mixture from making lumps; once it has reached a boil, add a spoonful of cream and a bunch of chopped dill to the sauce, in case we adjust salt; this sauce is often used to season steamed salmon.


  1. Kazrazuru

    This very good phrase has to be precisely on purpose

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From 60 to 70 cm

It flowers later in the year, but produces larger umbrellas.
The aroma is more intense than the species

From 1m up to 1.50 m
The highest variety, suitable for a vegetable garden or an aromatic corner

'Tetra Gold'
From 70 to 80 cm

It produces many leaves, of a brighter green.
Compact plant that tolerates wind better

Up to 50 cm

Ideal for growing in small containers.
Leaves similar to those of ferns.