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Yellowing Dill Plants: Why Is My Dill Plant Turning Yellow

Yellowing Dill Plants: Why Is My Dill Plant Turning Yellow


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Dill is one of the easiest herb to grow, needing just average soil, plenty of sunlight and moderate moisture. Problems with dill plants aren’t too common, as this is a hardy, “weed-like” plant, which thrives in conditions more tender specimens can’t tolerate. However, yellowing dill plants can be an indication of incorrect cultural care, improper site or even insects or disease. Yellow leaves on dill can also indicate the end of the season. If you are asking, “why is my dill plant turning yellow,” read on for more information about common causes.

Why is My Dill Plant Turning Yellow?

We all know dill as a main flavoring in canned pickles, as a fresh herb for flavoring fish and for its seeds as a culinary accent to a variety of recipes. This plant is thought to be from the Mediterranean and has a host of health benefits as well. The slender, hollow stems and airy foliage combined with the umbels of bright yellow flowers also enhance any garden bed. When dill weed turns yellow, you need to find the cause or potentially lose all that great potential.

If it is late September to October, you might as well ask why is the sky blue. Yellowing is a normal process when cold temperatures enter the picture and the plant begins to die back. Dill is an annual plant that sets seed at the end of the season and then finishes up its life cycle. Cold weather will signal that the growing season is over, and once the seed is set, the plant has done its work and will die.

Yellowing dill plants are also commonly caused by incorrect cultural care. The herb requires 6 to 8 hours of bright sunlight. Lack of light can cause some dulling in leaves. There really can be too much of a good thing. Excess fertilizer causes salt build up in soil so dill weed turns yellow. Dill prefers well-draining soil that is not too fertile.

Yellow Leaves on Dill from Disease and Insects

Dill is not especially bothered by insects but there are always a few bad actors. Primary among the pests of dill are aphids. Their sucking feeding activity causes the plant to lose sap and the leaves will stunt and yellow. You may actually see the insects, but their presence is also easily recognized by the honeydew they leave behind. This sticky substance encourages the growth of sooty mold on leaves and stems.

Carrot Motley Dwarf is a disease transmitted by the aphids that further yellow leaves with red streaks and stunted growth.

Downy mildew is another fungal disease that causes yellow spots on the upper surface of foliage and white cottony growth on the undersides.

Other Problems with Dill Plants

Dill can become weedy, so it is best to control the growth of the plant while it is young. Cut off seed heads before they form to prevent over seeding. Most insect pests avoid dill, but it is great for attracting beneficial insects.

Cutworms may pose a problem to young plants and root knot nematodes will attack the root system and cause overall plant yellowing.

If you are growing your dill for the airy foliage, harvest it early in the season, as hot temperatures force the plant to bolt, producing the thick, hollow stems and ultimately the flower head.

Happily, in most areas, dill is relatively trouble free and easy to manage. Long season gardeners can even hope to get a second crop of dill when seed is planted in mid-summer.

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How to Grow Dill

Dill is a culinary herb that has a distinctive flavor that's a cross between celery and fennel. Native to Europe and Asia, dill plays a big role in seasoning pickled foods meant to be canned and stored for winter. Beyond that, both dill's leaves and seeds are used to season a variety of dishes.

Although delicate looking, dill is actually a fairly cold-hardy plant. It's best started in early spring after the chance of frost has passed, and it will grow quickly, with seedlings appearing in around ten days. Mature plants are multi-branched and upright, with finely-dissected leaves and wide, flat flowers that can make the plant top-heavy and cause it to bend over. The entire plant is extremely fragrant—the leaves and seeds are most commonly thought of as seasonings, but the flowers are also edible.

Botanical Name Anethum graveolens
Common Name Dill
Plant Type Annual
Mature Size 3–5 ft. tall, 2–3 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Rich, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Late summer, early fall
Flower Color Yellow
Hardiness Zones 2–11 (USDA)
Native Area Europe, Asia
Toxicity Non-toxic
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Flowers

As dill matures, it produces flowers. These flower heads are naturally yellow, which is a normal occurrence and nothing to be alarmed about. Flavor peaks when the flowers form, so cut the yellow heads and leafy foliage to flavor eggs, soups and sauces.

  • Dill grows quickly from seed, thrives in full sun and attracts butterflies, ladybugs and bees to the garden.
  • Flavor peaks when the flowers form, so cut the yellow heads and leafy foliage to flavor eggs, soups and sauces.

Problems With Dill Plants - Reasons Dill Weed Turns Yellow - garden

Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum. I just recently started an indoor herb garden about 2 weeks ago, and it's been quite fun!

Mostly, my herbs are doing well, but I do need some help with my dill. I have a small dill plant that I bought from the local garden store. It came in one of those small plastic containers, and I re-potted it in a small terra-cotta pot when I first bought it a couple of weeks ago. It gets most of its light from sitting on my window sill.

However, it seems to be turning yellow quite fast. After doing some research, my thoughts are either that I could be over-watering (I water about every other day, or every 2 days, usually checking to make sure it's dry first) or that the pot is not big enough (it's only a few inches deep - certainly not the 10 inches that some people recommend). I've also read though, that dill "resents" transplanting, so I'm not sure whether moving it to a deeper pot would help or harm.

What are your thoughts? Should I cut down on the watering, and to how often? Should I transplant it to a deeper pot to allow more room for the roots? Something else I haven't considered?

Thanks! that's really helpful. I'll try putting it in a deeper pot along with a little less watering.


Would it do OK if I put another herb in the bigger pot with the dill? What other kinds of herbs have a similar water/light/soil requirement that wouldn't totally take over the pot? I was thinking a cilantro plant. I also have rosemary or lavender that are doing quite well. It's such a big pot that I hate to just put one measly dill plant in it

As for the light, the best I can do is putting it in a sunny room near a window sill. Wish I could have some butterflies, but I live in an apartment with no balcony, so it's all indoors for me! (Ah, but I can dream.)

Sharing the pot

Dill does not make a good pot plant for the reasons already given. Best in the ground. Leave some to set seed.

Yes, as has been said dill is best grown in the garden. It can be planted very early in the spring. I always let some go to seed and next year it comes up from last years seed. I let some grow where it is not a problem and pull the rest as a weed. Dill will get over three feet tall in good soil. It does have a good tap root.


Growing Dill in Hot Climate

If you’re growing dill in a warm climate (USDA Zones 9b-11), start seeds after the summer, in fall, when the weather is comparatively cold.

  • Keep growing seeds successively to grow dill in winter and up to spring.
  • It may die when your hot summer approaches unless you save the plant from heat.
  • Shield it from the afternoon sun and hot wind and water it more often to keep the soil evenly moist.
  • The plant will bolt in heat, keep trimming the flower buds before they open. Also, check out our article on how to grow dill in tropics here for more information.


Dill, a parsley family member, is a biennial grown as an annual with a taproot similar to a carrot. It grows 2-4 feet tall. Dill has finely cut leaves, and numerous deep yellow flowers comprise a flat head with compound umbels. It has a delicate soft feathery look and makes an attractive background for flowers or vegetables. Plants are self-seeding. The seeds scatter as soon as they are ripe and should be picked and dried immediately for winter use.

Temperature
Germination50 - 70 F
For GrowthHot
Soil and Water
FertilizerLight Feeder
pH5.5 - 6.5
WaterAverage
Measurements
Planting Depth1/4" - 1/2"
Root DepthVery long hollow taproot
Height3-4'
Width24"
Space between plants
In beds8 - 12"
in rows18 - 24"
space between rows24"
Companions
CompanionsCaraway, Eggplant, Fruit Trees, Potato, Tomato
IncompatiblesNone
Harvest
Cut the tender feathery leaves close to the stem Herbs should be cut in the morning after the dew has dried. Do not wash or the aromatic oils will be lost. The flavor of dill foliage is best before the flower seed develops and when used the same day it is cut. If you want to harvest dill seed, let the plant flower and go to seed. Harvest when the lower seeds turn brown and before they scatter. The lower seeds on a head will brown first the upper ones can dry indoors. Finish drying by tying stems together and hanging them upside down in a cool, dark, dry place, or place them in a paper bag with holes cut in the sides. Sift to remove the seed from the chaff.
Storage Requirements
The leaves wilt quickly upon harvesting, but this will not affect flavor. Spray whole stems lightly with a fine spray of water and wrap loosely in paper towels, and place in a plastic bag. Store in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. It should last up to a week and perhaps even longer. You can also trim the stems, place in a glass with an inch of cold water, loosely wrap the top with a damp paper towel, and invert a plastic bag over the top before storing it in the refrigerator. Fresh dill sprigs can be frozen for up to 2 months, but be prepared for it to darken a bit in color—no need to thaw it before using. Frozen dill will still have more flavor than dried dill.
Method Taste
FreshExcellent cuttings last 2-7 days in the fridge
DriedFair
FrozenGood

Reader Comments

Old Dill

Submitted by Brian on November 26, 2020 - 3:27am

I have a huge patch of Dill in my garden, but it doesn’t taste like true Dill. Seems the flavor has grown out of it. Should I just plant more nearby? Its soil is sandy and well drained and I don’t have to worry about cold weather.

Freezing Dill & Lemon-Lime Basil

Submitted by Denise Wlodyka on July 18, 2018 - 9:08am

Two things:
(1) Dill & Lemon-Lime Basil are my favorite combo herbs for fish & veggies. Both come up as prolific volunteer in my garden each year which leads to.
(2) I chop and freeze my dill & lemon-lime basil on wax paper, and once frozen, quickly transfer to plastic pint containers in my freezer. It keeps it's color and flavor, and I have guaranteed "fresh" herbs from my garden all winter long. Even if it clumps together, you can chop off a piece and quickly thaw to use on fish, veggies, in breads etc. It's so much better than drying them.

Dill seed harvesting

Submitted by Amy on July 18, 2017 - 4:35pm

I have a dill plant that went to seed. I want to harvest and plant the seeds, but I am not sure when to collect them from the plant. Also, do I have to dry the seeds first, before planting?. Please advise on this, Thank you!

Saving dill seed

Submitted by The Editors on July 19, 2017 - 5:28pm

You can harvest the dill seeds when the flower head (umbel) turns brown but the stem is still slightly green (wait a day or two if it had rained–you don’t want the plant to be wet). Don’t wait too long, though, or the seeds will fall. Just clip the seed heads off the plant and over a container or bag, carefully rub the seed head so that the seeds fall into the container. Although some sources say that dill doesn’t need further treatment, to play it safe, you can then dry the seeds on paper towels for about a week (winnow out any chaff), before storing in a cool, dry location.

Using dill,

Submitted by JUDY ARNETT on June 5, 2017 - 7:53pm

I have enjoyed some fresh dill but it is turning pale' My question , When I trim my dill for recipes/use, does it keep making new leaves? Is my dill season OVER? I have it planted in a large well drained planter with plenty of sun and water.

Dill turning pale

Submitted by The Editors on June 6, 2017 - 12:22pm

If the leaves are turning pale, it could be due to several things. Make sure that it is getting enough light–at least 6 to 8 hours a day. Do not over-fertilize, which can cause yellowing. Also, check for pests, such as aphids. A few diseases may also cause the color change.

Dill stalks become pale at the end of their life cycles

Submitted by Kelly on September 6, 2018 - 8:19am

Dill stalks will only tolerate nipping the flower buds so many times before turning gray or brown and dying away. Its job is to propagate and it puts all energy into making those buds. If it fails, it must start over, yet there is a limit to how many times the plant will take the stress. Cilantro is even worse. This is why you should plant several times over a season or let your last stem go to seed (preferably under a bag for containment).

Getting rid of aphids

Submitted by Van Malone on March 17, 2017 - 9:13am

I use scot tape to get aphids off plants. Gently tap the plant with the sticky side of the tape and the aphids will be attached to the tape. While it is not the fastest method, it is effective.

Yeah it's sounds like a slow

Submitted by Audrey Masterson on May 8, 2017 - 11:09pm

Yeah it's sounds like a slow death, dehydrating whilst stuck to a piece of tape. Just buy lady birds I would suggest.

Slow death?

Submitted by CMK on June 14, 2017 - 12:04pm

That would not be a slow death. You can very easily fold the tape in half and step on it after you are done collecting the bugs and poof, instant death. They are bugs, I don't know why you would be worried about them having a slow death anyway.

Slow death

Submitted by Larry Reed on July 8, 2017 - 1:18pm

Lol! Now that's funny! And practical, too. I don't know why anyone would be concerned about the feelings of insects. Hundreds of billions of insects die every day- that's just an essential part of the cycle of life. Plus, many insects, given half the chance, would gladly decimate our crops, starve us to death, then feast on our corpses. There's good bugs and there's bad bugs.

I have have attempted to

Submitted by Christy on October 28, 2016 - 9:57am

I have have attempted to start dill from seeds for the last 2 years, sowing directly into the ground, plenty of sun and water, bought seed in a packet one year then used seed harvested from another gardener last year. I could not get my seed to sprout, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, great article!

We are inclined to think the

Submitted by The Editors on October 28, 2016 - 11:04am

We are inclined to think the problem is in the soil. Dill will grow in poor soil but if you have not already, you could try well-drained/draining composted soil, and full sun. There seems to be enthusiasts of both camps (poor soil, composted soil). It does not do well when over watered or in rainy season. One other thought, going back to the soil: What is the pH of your soil? Dill likes a neutral pH of between 5.5 and 6.5. An extreme acid or alkaline soil could be the issue here, if all else is as it should be.

I purchased a miracle aero

Submitted by Allen Fields on December 15, 2016 - 10:08pm

I purchased a miracle aero system with dill. Works great.

Aphids on dillweed

Submitted by A Parker on August 29, 2016 - 12:40am

I bought dillweed at the farmers market to make dill pickles. It had a lot of aphids on it we washed it in salt and vintages but we're still seeing them. How do you get them off of harvested dill weed?

Washing dill

Submitted by The Editors on August 30, 2016 - 9:41am

The aphids are sticky so you need a vinegar rinse to release them. Add a cup of white vinegar to a bowl of cold water and wash the dill in the water. Then rinse a few times in vinegar-free water. If it’s still too heavily invested, talk to the place where you got them. Also, for what it’s worth, eating an aphid is harmless protein, but we understand that you wouldn’t want to eat bugs!

Simulating Seeding

Submitted by GregG on June 29, 2016 - 10:34am

I'm trying to establish a solid dill patch that will reseed itself year after year. (I know it can be done in my climate because a relative of mine has a beautiful and dense patch that comes back on its own every year.) I had a couple plants that were flowering, but the flowers were all just destroyed by hail. I was thinking about scattering some dill seeds from a packet in the vicinity of the plants around the time that the seeds would have been falling themselves, in an effort to simulate the self-seeding process. Is there a time in the late summer/autumn when it would be best to do something like that?

Sowing Dill Seeds

Submitted by The Editors on June 29, 2016 - 4:23pm

The ideal time to sow dill seeds directly into the ground is late April through May. But given the fact that several crops can be harvested during the summer and fall by planting seeds every 2-3 weeks through midsummer, you might want to start a batch now.

Dill turning yellow

Submitted by Vicky Hamilton on April 30, 2016 - 10:47am

I have a dill plant and part of the plant is turning yellow Is it still good to dry or is there a problem with the dill itself

Yellowing dill

Submitted by The Editors on May 2, 2016 - 3:15pm

If the leaves are turning yellow early in the season, it could be due to several things. Make sure that it is getting enough light–at least 6 to 8 hours a day. Do not over-fertilize, which can cause yellowing. Also, check for pests, such as aphids. A few diseases may also cause yellowing.

Looking for Flower Match

Submitted by Liam Moyniha on November 12, 2015 - 11:50am

Hi I'm thinking about getting into gardening this year and I wanted to try planting dill alongside lettuce and cucumbers. I'm also considering adding in some flowers but I'm not sure what to go with. Any suggestions?

There are so many flowers to

Submitted by The Editors on November 16, 2015 - 3:32pm

There are so many flowers to choose from. Here are a couple of annuals that you can start from seed. They are easy to care for and will work well with veggies and herbs. Cosmos, nasturtiums, and marigolds. You can check our growing guide for flowers at http://www.almanac.com/plants.

Submitted by camryn forrest on October 26, 2015 - 9:56am

thanks. i needed this cuz we just got stuff from school to plant
thankssss

Thanks!

Submitted by greg mccoy on September 1, 2015 - 10:57am


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