By Holly Reaney
A favorite herb in the kitchen, dill is a gorgeous addition to salads and fish dishes. Knowing how to prune dill is essential for maintaining a healthy plant that will keep producing throughout the season.
Dill has multiple culinary uses and is loved for its subtle aniseed taste. A staple in central and eastern European dishes, the delicate frothy leaves are a go-to herb for seasoning salmon and other fish dishes as well as being the standout flavor of dill pickles. Dill seeds on the other hand are a popular constituent of Indian cuisine as well as infusing in soups and stews. You can even use the pretty yellow flowers as a garnish for salads.
Once you know the basics of how to grow dill, you need on to move on to pruning it – we tell you how in this helpful guide.
Dill is very easy to grow but is an annual plant. This means it completes its entire life-cycle, from germination to setting seed, in a single year. Plus, dill also has a reputation for dying quickly after producing its seeds.
Therefore, lengthening the lifecycle of this fast growing herb is essential for its longevity and knowing how to prune dill correctly is key. Cutting the herb regularly will increase its yield by making the plant bushier as well as delaying the development of flowers and seeds.
How to prune dill: step-by-step
Pruning dill starts when the plant is still small, once its got around five leaves – somewhere between four and eight weeks after planting.
- Start by pinching the growing tips to encourage a bushier plant. The bushier the plant, the more stems and leaves it has and so more available to harvest.
- At this point you can also cut any longer stems so that all the stems are the same length and the plant has an aesthetically pleasing appearance.
- Be sure to use sharp secateurs or scissors to prevent your pruning from damaging the plant.
- It is important to then leave the plant to recover and return to its previous size as this will ensure that your plant does not die due to over-pruning.
- Then harvest the dill plant when required for culinary or aesthetic reasons. Little and often is a good approach. 'Cut the leaves at the point they join stem or cut the stem within a few inches of the ground, discarding the thick, tough stems,' says Dan Drost in research for Utah State University.
- 'Pinch off the flower buds if you are growing dill for its foliage; the flavor will be most intense before the plant blooms,' says Kristin Winterbottom from Park Seeds. Doing this will extend the life of the plant and as a result ensure you are able to continue harvesting the herbs.
- If you are growing your dill plant for seeds, then you will want to allow the dill plant to flower. You can achieve this by pruning the leaves but leaving the main stems and growing tips intact.
- 'To harvest the seeds, secure a paper bag over the flowerhead as the blooms begin to pass. Shake the stem of the plant every so often; when the bag rattles, it is full of dill seeds,' continues Winterbottom.
- 'If you’re not interested in seeds, cut off entire plants for preserving either in oil or in the freezer just before flowers open,' advises Amy Enfield, Horticulturist for Bonnie Plants. This will ensure you have delicious dill ready to go all-year round.
How do I prune back dill?
You prune back dill by 'snipping back the foliage fronds continuously but lightly to encourage healthy growth and prevent flowering. Try not to damage the stems or leaves by using sharp pruning shears,' advises Gena Lorainne from landscaping experts Fantastic Services.
How do you cut fresh dill so it keeps growing?
To cut fresh dill so that it keeps growing, you must never cut back more than a third of the plant and be sure to leave enough time for the plant to recover after pruning. This will ensure that the dill is able to regrow after having been cut back.
How to prune dill for floral arrangements
Dill also makes a beautiful addition to cut flower arrangements. For this, the method for how to prune dill is slightly different. Therefore, if you want to grow dill for both floral arrangements and culinary use, it is worth growing separate plants.
Avoid pruning the growth tips of the plant so that it can continue to grow and flower. You need to wait until the plant has just started to flower, then cut the stems near the base at bouquet length. 'As a cut flower, it's good with whites and blues or rich, brilliant colors to heighten their contrasts,' suggests plantwoman Sarah Raven. 'The flowers last a few days in a vase'.
This feature was created by H&G sister brand, Period Living magazine
Period Living is the UK's best-selling period homes magazine. A subscription provides you with all you need to know about caring for and improving a traditional house and garden
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