Dill weed is a tender, flavorful fresh herb that is easy to grow and maintain. This annual plant lasts one harvesting season before dying off. If you don’t prune, it easily grows leggy and long. Also, it seeds and dies before the end of the harvesting season. Pruning dill helps to make it bushier for a bountiful harvest. Below are various ways to trim dill:
5 Methods of Trimming Dill
There are a few ways you can trim dill weed, including harvesting, snipping off some branches, cutting flowers, shaping it, and cutting it down completely. Below is a look at each method and when it is most applicable. But first, make sure you have the right tools.
You will need a pair of sharp shears and rubbing alcohol. Wet some cotton wool or a piece of cloth with the rubbing alcohol and use it to wipe the blades of the shears. Using sharp shears ensures you make quick, clean, and smooth cuts without scaring the plant. The rubbing alcohol cleans off any potentially disease-causing pathogens. You may also use your fingers to snip off thin stalks.
1. Nip Off the Top Buds and Leaves
Cutting off the top leaves early on in the season helps the plant develop new branches and leaves and prevents premature flowering. Do this a few weeks before beginning proper harvesting. You may use the young fresh dill leaves you cut off for your recipes.
Using your pruning shears or the tips of your fingers, snip a few buds from the top of the plant. Trim each dill leaf set at the point where the branch elbows from another branch or the rest of the stem. However, avoid over-pruning by trimming only 1/3 of the plant at most.
Typically, dill is ready for harvesting once it has developed 4-5 leaves, but you can allow the herb one or two more weeks to fully establish itself.
You can harvest dill throughout summer as long as you maintain favorable conditions. Keep in mind that excessive summer heat may cause it to start bolting. Therefore, if need be, place a small oscillating fan nearby.
To harvest dill, cut whole sprigs off the stem. You may cut a few branches for immediate use in a recipe or more and store them. Do not harvest more than 1/3 to 1/2 of a dill plant at a time. Allow the plant to fully recover and develop new sprigs near the bottom before your next harvest.
Since dill does not grow all year round, you may want to save some of the harvests for later use. There are several ways of storing dill depending on when you intend to use it. You can put the stems in a glass jar with water and place them on your countertop to preserve them for up to a week.
For one month of storage, wash and dry the dill, wrap it in a paper towel, place it in a Ziplock bag, and then refrigerate it. You may also wrap it with a wet paper power and put it in an open plastic bag. Refrigerated dill lasts for up to a month.
For long-term storage, store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Or store dried dill in your pantry for up to a year.
3. Snip of the Flowers
As soon as you notice any flowers emerging, cut off each flower head and bud to prevent the plant from seeding and dying off. Allowing the flowers to keep growing also causes the dill to lose its flavor and acquire a bitter taste.
You can use the flowers in recipes together or as a substitute for the dill sprig. Put any surplus dill flowers in a Ziplock bag and store them in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.
With that said, if it is near the end of the season, you can allow the flowers to fully blossom to produce seed. To harvest the seed, wait for the flowers to dry up and the seeds to become tan. Snip off the dill seed cases and hang them upside down in a warm, dark, and dry place. Place a paper tower beneath to collect the seeds when they fall from their seed pod. Leave the dill seed to dry and store them for the next planting season or use them in recipes.
4. Trim Dill to Shape It
As the dill sprigs grow, each varies in size. Some grow much longer than others. You may be concerned about the aesthetics of the dill plant and want to trim it into a given shape and level. Using your shears, trim the top leaves into your preferred shape. This encourages growing dill to spread outward rather than upward. It also increases space within the plant stems, allowing light and air to reach all parts.
5. Cut Down Dill at the End of the Season
As the end of the season nears, you want to stock up on the remaining dill for use during winter. Furthermore, dill foliage is most flavorful just before it starts to flower when the buds are about to open. If you do not need to harvest dill seeds, harvest all the remaining dill sprigs by cutting each stem as low as possible.
As described above, trimming fresh dill weed is quite straightforward. Pruning enhances productivity and optimizes the health of the herb. Assess your dill plant at any one give point to determine which approach of trimming is most appropriate. Providing adequate care for your herbs ensures a bountiful harvest throughout the season.