Dill (Anethum graveolens) is native to the eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia. It is part of the carrot family, just like parsley and celery. Most people are unaware that there are several varieties of dill and that they have different sizes and qualities. Read this article to figure out which is the best variety of dill to grow in your garden.
The use of this herb dates back 5000 years ago, to the Egyptians in 3000 BC who used it medicinally and considered it an aphrodisiac. Ancient Greeks saw dill as a wealth symbol, while the Romans thought it was good luck. Quakers and Puritans gave the seeds to their children for them to chew when they had upset tummies. Medicinal benefits of dill may have to do with its name’s meaning “to soothe” in old Norse.
Eating dill will provide you with vitamin A and D. It also has iron, which builds your hemoglobin and oxygenates the body, and magnesium which keeps you calm, helps heart health and bone strength. Dill is one of the most popular culinary herbs. And what is there not to love about this herb that can be added to so many dishes.
What Type of Dill Should You Plant?
Most varieties of dill grow between 3-5 feet in height. But some, like fernleaf, are considered dwarf varieties. Dill will mature throughout the season, some varieties are early ripening, some are mid-season varieties and others are late maturing varieties without umbrellas.
Dill is an annual plant for most people. In warm areas, this herb will go into seed when it gets hot which will slow down its growth and leaf production, as the plant puts all of its energy into seed production. Leaf production will continue once the flowers have faded. Gardeners in warmer climates should choose bolt-resistant varieties or practice succession planting.
Vierling, dukat and superdukat are slower to flower and bolt. Which prevents having to to sow constantly. Hercules is another variety that is slow to flower, but is not the best culinary variety of dill since leaves can turn coarse and lose flavor as they age.
Those that live in cooler areas will have dill that grows throughout the summer. They can also pot dwarf varieties, such as fernleaf, that grow year round. Other varieties of dill that can be planted in containers are dukat and Long Island mammoth (container should be at least 12 inches deep).
Whatever variety of dill you decide to plant, this herb is always better fresh. Superdukat is a hybrid that produces an intense flavor because it is rich in essential oils. Delikat produces thick and dense foliage with heavy yields. Bouquet is another popular variety with pleasantly flavored leaves and large seed heads. While Long Island mammoth is the most commercially grown variety since it has delicious leaves that even retain their flavor even after pickling.
Dill is a great companion plant since it attracts pollinators and beneficial insects that can repel pests. These insects include ladybugs, hover flies, wasps, honey bees and butterflies, which help keep aphids and spider mites away. Don’t plant dill next to carrots or fennel since it can easily cross pollinate when flowering and stunt their growth. Grow dill next to most members of the cabbage family.
If you plant any variety of dill next to tomatoes they will benefit young tomato plants since they attract pollinators and repel harmful pests. When dill matures and flowers it will slow down or stop the growth of nearby tomato plants. Make sure to prune dill regularly so it does not flower if planted next to tomatoes.
Varieties of Dill
Of all the varieties of dill, bouquet is probably the most popular because it has pungent leaves and seeds. It has dark blue-green foliage that is aromatic. This variety flowers early with big yellow blossoms that produce many seed heads which are perfect for pickling. Many gardeners consider this plant an ornamental.
Bouquet grows up to 3 feet tall, so it is best to plant it outdoors. Grow this variety in the spring or in the fall depending if you have cold winters or hot summers. Sow about every three weeks to have continuous supply until the hot weather arrives, then wait until the fall. Plant in loamy, well drained soil. Buy bouquet dill seeds here.
Dukat is smaller than other varieties of dill, but it is not considered a dwarf. This type of dill can be planted in a container. It is also called tetra dill and has rich foliage that goes well in salads. Buy dukal dill seeds here.
Some varieties of dill are quite new like superdukat that was introduced in 1997. It is one of the easiest varieties of dill to harvest since it grows uniformly straight with tall stems. This hybrid variety grows about 2 feet tall, but is a lot slower than bouquet, and it is laggard to flower and decline as well. Meaning that you will have dill for a longer time. Planting this type of dill means that you don’t have to sow seeds every few weeks. Superdukat is supposed to produce more essential oil than dukat. Buy superdukat seeds here.
Fernleaf is considered a dwarf variety of dill that grows between 12-18 inches (30-46 centimeters). It can be planted in a container making it a great option for urban gardens. Those who start it indoors don’t have to wait until May to grow this herb. Fernleaf does not require stalking since it is quite diminutive compared to other varieties of dill. Place it by a window where it will receive at least six hours of sunlight per day.
It is also possible to grow fernleaf dill outdoors, even if you have limited garden space. Like other varieties of dill, this plant does not do well in extreme hot or cold weather. It does best in temperatures that range between 60-68 F (15-20 C). This type of dill looks great in flower arrangements. Buy fernleaf dill seeds here.
Long Island or Mammoth Dill
As its name suggests, mammoth is one of the largest varieties of dill, growing up to 5 feet tall. This plant thrives in full sunlight and needs plenty of space. Sow it directly outdoors in loose, well draining soil.
It will produce a lot of delicious dill weeds which is great if you intend to do a lot of pickling. Commercial dill producers usually grow this variety which has desirable leaves. Seeds and leaves can be used both dried and fresh in sauces, salads, stews, bread and vinegar. Buy mammoth long island dill here.
Vierling is one of the slower growing varieties of dill. This is good news because it will give you more time to pick the leaves before they bolt. People who live in hotter climates should plant this dill.
This type of dill produces dense and widespread foliage. It is ideal for those who want to cook with dill since it produces plenty of leaves.
Hercules is in the list of slow growing varieties of dill, which allows you to pick the leaves for a longer time, since it flowers late. Leaves of Hercules are tough and rigid so make sure to harvest them when they are young.