How to Prune Dill without Killing the Plant

Dill is a simple annual herb used to flavor dishes or add fragrance to a flower garden. If you don’t want to grow it for culinary purposes, the attractive fronds and tiny yellow flowers make it a welcome addition to a fragrant garden.

Dill is one favorite herb to grow in my raised beds for a delicious harvest. Because I grow so much dill or, more accurately, let so much dill go to seed, I don’t mind the caterpillars eating it because there’s plenty for everyone. I’ll show you how to prune dill for bushier plants in this article.

Benefits of Pruning Dill

Although dill is an annual plant, it self-seeds and will revert year after year if grown properly. You can also comfortably save dill seed for potential cultivation each year. Pruning a dill plant reduces the number of seeds produced and keeps the plants from outgrowing their space. Unpruned plants bloom well and produce a large number of seeds per bloom. So, if you want to save seeds for replanting or cooking, let your dill overgrow!

Nevertheless, if you prune your dill, it will keep looking clean and organized and compel it to produce lateral growth, making it bushier. This is ideal for those looking for a larger harvest of dill to use in pickling, marinades, drying, and other recipes.

Dill can reach a mature height of three feet, which may cause them to be top-heavy, so if you allow your plants to grow unpruned, you, as a gardener, will need to stake them. Pruning dill will keep the plant short and compact, eliminating the need to stake it.

How To Prune Dill 

bushy dill plant

Pruning dill begins when the plant is still small, around five leaves – between four and eight weeks after planting. Begin by: 

  1. Pinching the growing tips to make the plant bushier. The bushier the plant, the more stems and leaves it has; thus, the more harvestable it is.
  2. You can cut any long stems so that all stalks are the same length and the plant looks aesthetically pleasing.
  3. To avoid damaging the plant, use sharp secateurs or scissors when pruning.
  4. It is critical to allow the plant to recover and return to its original size, as this will prevent your plant from dying due to over-pruning.
  5. You can harvest your dill plant for culinary or aesthetic purposes. Little and often is a good strategy. Cut the leaves where they meet the stem or cut the stem to a few inches above the ground, throwing away the thick, thorny stems.
  6. If you’re growing dill for its foliage, pinch off the flower buds; the flavor will be most intense before the plant blooms. It will extend the plant’s lifespan and ensure you can continue harvesting the herbs.
  7. You should allow your dill plant to flower if you are growing it for the seeds. You can accomplish this by pruning the leaves while maintaining the main stems and growing tips unharmed.
  8. As the blooms fade, place a paper bag over the flowerhead to collect the seeds. Shake the plant’s stem now and then; if the bag rattles, it’s full of dill seeds.
  9. If you don’t want to save seeds, cut off entire plants and store them in oil or the freezer just before the flowers open. This will ensure that you have delicious dill on hand all year.

How Do I Prune Back Dill?

Dill is pruned by repeatedly snipping the foliage fronds back but mildly to promote healthy growth and inhibit flowering. Avoid damaging the stems or leaves by using sharp pruning shears.

Pruning Dill For Bushier Plants

Pruning a plant you’re trying to grow for food may seem counterintuitive, but most herbs benefit from a cut. If you regularly harvest dill, you can bypass this stage since your regular harvesting will achieve the same result of inspiring a bushier plant and deferring blooms. When your dill plants are six to eight inches (15 to 20 centimeters) tall, begin pruning.

Also, if you prune a stem without leaving any fronds (or leaf sets), that stem will not sprout any more dill. Consume whatever you trim off. It would be best if you also deferred flowering with dill, as with cilantro and basil. Pinch flower buds to delay the formation of flower heads.

Pruning Dills For Recipes Or For Drying

Follow the same rules outlined above if you need some dill for a seasoning or your favorite egg salad recipe, always making sure you don’t cut down more than one-third of the plant. I cut longer fronds for dill pickles because whole sprigs are simpler to fish out than smaller bits. Dill with longer stems is also simpler to hang and dry.

Keep a close eye on the flower buds when snipping dill for drying. The flavor is at its peak just before the plant blooms. Snip long stems and hang them upturned in a well-ventilated, dark area of the house. Once the leaves have completely dried, store them in a sealed container in the dark cupboard. When the herb begins to flower, the fronds become less plentiful and full of flavor.

How Do I Cut Fresh Dill, So It Continues Growing?

To keep fresh dill growing, only cut back one-third of the plant and provide sufficient time for the plant to fully heal after pruning. It will guarantee that the dill can regrow after being cut back.

How Do I Prune Dill For Floral Arrangements? 

The method for pruning dill is slightly different for this. As a result, if you are growing dill for both floral arrangements and culinary purposes, you should grow various plants. You have to avoid pruning the plant’s growth tips so that it can keep growing and flowering. Wait until the plant has just begun to flower before cutting the stems at bouquet length near the base. It pairs well with whites, blues, and rich, brilliant colors like a cut flower. Flowers in a flower pot last a few days.

When Am I To Prune My Dill? 

Early on, a few dill leaves or stems can be harvested, but you must wait until your plant matures before heavily pruning it. Your plant will reach maturity and be ready for heavy, overall pruning about eight weeks after planting the seeds (definitely, we all want plants to grow that quickly).

Remove the tops of the longest and even the leftover stems to achieve a uniform height and pleasing shape for the plant. When pruning, only remove one-third of the plant; otherwise, your plant may not recover. Prune before the plant blooms if you want it to re-seed for the following year or if you do want to extract the seeds.

What Tools Are Best To Prune My Dill? 

Prune tool

Use a clean pair of sharp pruning shears or snips to prune your dill, making each cut quick and clean. While pruning your plants, avoid damaging or crushing the stem or leaves. Before and after pruning, clean the scissor blades by dipping them inside a weak bleach-to-water solution (1: 9). This will help to keep diseases at bay.

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