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How to Prune Dill

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Dill is an easy to grow annual herb and can be used to flavor recipes or to add fragrance to a flower garden. The attractive fronds and tiny yellow flowers make this plant a welcome addition to a fragrant garden even if you don’t want to grow it for culinary uses.

All plants can benefit from being pruned, and my post on how to prune basil has been one of the most popular on my site. So, there’s an obvious need for learning about pruning herbs and vegetables. Here are some tips on how to prune dill.

The benefits of pruning dill

Although dill is an annual plant, it is self-seeding and will return year after year under the right growing conditions. (You can also easily save dill seed each year for future planting.) Pruning a dill plant will limit the number of seeds the plant produces and will keep the plants from outgrowing their space. An un-pruned plant will bloom proficiently and produce a multitude of seeds per bloom. So, if your goal is seed saving for replanting or using in the kitchen, then let your dill grow wild!

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However, pruning dill will keep the plant looking tidy and force the plant to produce lateral growth so it will be bushier. This is perfect for those who want a larger dill harvest for using in pickling, marinades, drying, and other recipes.

Dill can reach a mature height of 3-feet and since this may cause them to be top-heavy, a gardener will need to be stake them if the plants allowed to grow un-pruned. Pruning dill keeps the plant short and compact so it won’t need to be staked.

When to prune dill

A small number of dill leaves or a couple of stems can be harvested early on, but wait until the plant matures before pruning it heavily. About 8-weeks from the time seeds are planted is when the plant will reach maturity and be ready for heavy, over-all pruning. (Don’t we wish all plants grew this quickly?)

Cut off the tops of the longest stems and even up the remaining stems so the plant has a uniform height and pleasing shape. Don’t cut off more than 1/3 of the plant when pruning or the plant might not recover. 

Prune before the plant sets flowers unless you want it to re-seed for next year or if you want to harvest the seeds.

Best tools for pruning dill

Use a pair of clean, sharp pruning shears or snips to prune dill and make each cut quick and clean. Try not to damage or crush the stem or leaves when pruning. Clean scissor blades by dipping them into a weak bleach solution (1-part bleach, 9-parts water) before and after using them for pruning. This will prevent the spread of disease. (Check out my tutorial on how to clean garden tools.)

As the plant continues to grow, pinch off flowers or wayward stems to keep the plant looking tidy. Dill is really such a wonderful herb to add to a garden space, container garden, or flower bed. And if you’re looking for some delicious ways to use fresh dill, check out these recipes:

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