Dill(sowa) Cultivation


Botanical Name: Anethum graveolens L.

Family: Apiaceae

Dill is a herbaceous annual with pinnately divided leaves. The ripe, light brown seeds emit an aromatic odour. The leaves have pleasant aromatic odour and warm taste. Both seeds and leaves are valued as spice.


European Dill (Anetheum graveolens) is indigenous to Europe and is cultivated in England, Germany, Romania, Turkey, USA and Russia. The Indian dill (Anetheum sowa), a native of Northern India is bolder than the European dill. It is cultivated as a cold weather crop in many parts of India.


Dill seed is used both whole and ground as a condiment in soups, salads, processed meats, sausages and pickling. Dill stems and blossom heads are used for dill pickles. The essential oil is used in the manufacture of soaps. Both seeds and oil are used in indigenous medicinal preparations. The emulsion of dill oil in water is an aromatic carminative.


Hindi : Sowa Bengali : Sowa Gujarati : Surva Kannada : Sabasige Kashmiri : Sor Malayalam : Sathakuppa Marathi : Surva, Shepu Punjabi : Sowa Sanskrit : Satapushpi Tamil : Sathakuppi Sompa Telugu : Sabasiege Urdu : Sowa


These varieties are best

  • Bouquet
  • Dukat
  • Fernleaf
  • Long Island
  • Superdukat


Dill can grow fairly well in poor soil conditions. But it grows best in well drained, sandy or loamy soil that is slightly acidic (pH 5.8 to 6.5). The soil temperature should remain at about 70°F.


You can grow dill at anytime when the temperature is around 50 – 80 F (10 – 27 C). In cooler climates, it is grown in spring, summer and up to fall in warm temperate zones. But if you live in tropics, grow dill in fall and winter.


Seed sowing

Sow the seeds directly in the ground from April through May, after all danger of frost has passed. Do not transplant them.

They should germinate in 10 to 14 days. Seedlings should be planted ¾ to 1 inch deep and from 12 to 15 inches apart.

Seed – sow April to early summer in situ and only just cover. The seed germinates in 2 weeks if the soil is warm. A regular supply of leaves can be obtained if successional sowings are made from May to the end of June. Autumn sowings can succeed if the winters are mild. Dill is very intolerant of root disturbance and should not be transplanted because it will then quickly run to seed.



Fertilizer may be broadcast (spread on the surface throughout the planting) or applied as a side dressing (applied to the soil on or around the sides of the plant). Do not apply it directly with the seed.

In general, apply a formulation such as 20-20-20 once in late spring at the rate of 0.70 pound of fertilizer per 100 square feet. “Triple 20” fertilizer is commonly used by gardeners because it is readily available at garden centers.

A better formulation that doesn’t apply too much phosphorus is 15-5-10, and it is also available at garden centers. When using 15-5-10, apply 1 pound per 100 square feet.


Dill tolerates drought and its flavor increases if it is allowed to be slightly “thirsty”. But in tropics you’ll need to keep the soil relatively moist. Avoid overwatering in any case.


Cover the plant with a 2-inch layer of organic mulch once the plants are 4 inches high. Mulch gives plant stability, suppresses weeds and keeps the soil moist.

Pinching and Deadheading

Pinch the plant when it grows above 6 inches tall for bushier growth. Nip off the tips regularly. Do not allow the plant to flower and seed, if you want a longer growing period.



Dill grown outside matures about 90 days after seeding. Although the leaves can be harvested as soon as they are big enough to use, they contain the most flavors if picked before flowering begins. Clip them close to the stem in the early morning or late evening.

Once the flowers form, they will bloom and seed. Cut the seed heads 2 to 3 weeks after bloom. Place the cuttings in paper or plastic bags, and allow them to dry; the seeds will fall off when they are ready.

Medicinal uses

Anethum is used as an ingredient in gripe water, given to relieve colic pain in babies and flatulence in young children.The seed is aromatic, carminative, mildly diuretic, galactogogue, stimulant and stomachic.The essential oil in the seed relieves intestinal spasms and griping, helping to settle colic.The carminative volatile oil improves appetite, relieves gas and aids digestion. Chewing the seeds improves bad breath. Anethum stimulates milk flow in lactating mothers, and is often given to cattles for this reason. It also cures urinary complaints, piles and mental disorders.

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