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How to Harvest Dill Without Killing the Plant

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If you are growing dill in your home herb garden, read on for a guide on how to harvest dill. This herb is relatively easy to grow and can be harvested in just a few simple steps.

Freshly cut dill on a wooden board.
How to harvest dill.

Harvesting dill

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is an annual herb in the celery family. It grows up to 5 ft (0.8 m) tall and has finely divided, leafy greens.

Some herbs are best used fresh, and dill is one of them! It is a flavorful fresh herb with a distinctive sour-sweet flavor that can be used in many types of dishes.

>> Related post: How to Use Dill in Cooking

Dill has a delicate flavor that is lost when it is dried, so it is best to harvest only what you need and use it fresh.

Growing dill is easy, though some varieties bolt to seed very easily. Harvesting dill regularly can help to prevent this, and if care is taken to harvest it properly, it can keep your plant happy and productive all season.

When to harvest dill

You can begin harvesting it at around 8 to 10 weeks after germination, as soon as it starts to get bushy.

As an annual plant, there is no best time of year to harvest dill.

As with many herbs, the best time of day to harvest dill is in the morning after the dew has dried but before the day has started to heat up, as this is when the natural oils are at their highest levels. 

However, it is best to harvest dill leaves just before use whenever possible, as dill loses its flavor quickly once stored.

How to harvest dill (without damaging the plant)

Here are the key points to remember when harvesting dill, so that you don’t damage the plant:

  1. Cut the dill plant from the top down. This will encourage the plant to grow busy rather than tall.
  2. You can use scissors or secateurs to cut the dill, but because it has relatively soft stems, you can also just pick off the stems that you want. Just do it gently so that you don’t damage it.
  3. To ensure your dill plant thrives, do not cut more than 20% of the plant at any one time, and allow the plant time to regrow and recover between harvesting.

To prolong the life of your dill plant, pinch off the flower buds as they appear but before they bloom. Once it flowers the plant will die.

However, because dill is an annual plant that can only be grown from seed, if you want to grow it again next year you will need to allow some flowers to bloom. Then either collect the dried seed heads and sow the seeds in the spring, or leave the plant to self-seed after flowering.

Fresh dill being harvested.
Harvesting dill by hand.

How to store dill

Storing fresh dill

Cut fresh dill leaves can be stored in the refrigerator. However, they lose their flavor and wilt quite quickly, so don’t plan to keep them this way for longer than a day or so.

Freezing dill

A great way to store dill for longer is to freeze it:

  • Wash the dill and pat it dry with paper towels.
  • Remove any damaged or discolored leaves, but keep the stems intact.
  • Place the sprigs of dill into a freezer-safe ziplock bag, gently squeezing out the air before you seal it, and place in the freezer.

Dill can be stored this way for up to 6 months.

Drying dill

Dill loses its flavor quickly when dried, so it is not the best storage method. However, sometimes it is the most convenient.

Dill needs to be dried carefully, without adding any extra heat since the delicate aromatic oils are easily lost. For more details, see our article: Drying Dill

How to Harvest Dill

Fresh dill being harvested.

A step-by-step guide to harvesting dill without damaging the plant.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost free

Materials

  • A healthy dill plant.

Tools

  • Sharp scissors or secateurs (optional)

Instructions

  1. Inspect your dill plant to find the tallest stems.
  2. Cut or pinch the top 10-12 inches off each stem.
  3. If you are harvesting the dill for leaves to use, continue until you have sufficient dill for your recipe or until you have cut back up to a quarter of the plant.
  4. If you are harvesting dill to improve the condition of your plant, continue to prune until you have cut all the tallest stems back and removed any flower buds.
  5. Allow your dill plant to recover before harvesting agin.

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