Saving Seed / Attract Butterflies With Dill

dill herb, dried dill seed, garden herb, seed collecting, saving

Dill is a lovely, airy herb.

dill flower buds, dill herb, garden dill, for fish, pickles

This spring, I dreamed of all the pickles we could make with a stock of dill like this; before we knew it most of the plants bolted into flower – beautiful yellow bursts.

(basil and dill thrive happily in a big pot; dill reseeds itself  yearly so you may never have to plant it again)

As the flowers faded away, seeds began to appear. They started off fresh and greenish. I have heard of people cutting off the entire flower head to throw in their pickle jar, but have not done it myself. It sounds like a pretty touch, though.

immature dill seed, for pickles, seed heads

As they began to dry and turn brown, they start looking like actual dill seed. Taste-wise, they can be compared to caraway. They are in the same family and even look kind of similar, although dill seeds seem to be more flattened, and of course, they don’t taste exactly the same.

Once they were mostly dry, we cut off a bunch of the seed clusters and put them in a paper bag to finish the drying process. There were still plenty of seeds left to drop into the pots and reseed for the next year. The supply seemed never ending.



drying dill in a paper bag


dill seed, herb, grown in pots, garden plants


Dill is probably one of the easiest herb seeds to harvest.

To harvest the seeds, cut the flower stalks on a sunny, dry day just as the seeds begin to ripen and turn a tan color. Hang the stalks upside down in a warm, well ventilated room away from direct light. Place a small paper (not plastic) bag up around the flower heads, fastened to the stalks. Poke a few holes in the sides of the bag for air circulation. As the seeds ripen, they will drop and collect on the bottom of the bag.

Seeds must be very dry before they are stored; if any signs of moisture appear in the container shortly after storage, remove the seeds and dry them further.


For dill pickles, a whole flower head and leaves are often placed in each jar with the pickled vegetables. It makes a very pretty picture in the jar alongside the pickle wedges or chunks. The head should still be green and flexible; the seeds do not need to be fully mature.


Green dill foliage can be harvested anytime during the growing season. Because dill loses its flavor quickly, it is best to use it fresh as soon after picking as possible. Dill foliage can be dried on a paper towel or hung up out of direct sunlight. It is usually the case that you will need more dried herb to achieve your flavor than fresh herb.

drying fresh dill leaf herb


  • Dill has been shown to help diabetics regulate insulin levels.
  • Dill contains anti-bacterial properties; fights infections internally and externally.
  • Dill improves digestion. It may help to manage acid reflux. It also soothes upset stomach, prevents diarrhea, and reduces the amount of gas produced in the intestines.
  • Dill is a traditional remedy for hiccups. It is said that mixing a spoonful of fresh dill into boiling water, straining the water, and then drinking the liquid will get rid of hiccups. Some people say that just drinking a few ounces of dill pickle juice will do the trick.
  • Dill has been used as a headache remedy since ancient times. Use the same method for treating hiccups.
  • The essential oils in dill may have a calming effect on the body and can help fight insomnia. Since ancient times, dill was made into a tea or the seeds were chewed for their calming effect.


Dill in home gardens rarely has pest or disease problems, but black swallowtail butterfly larvae depend on dill as a food source. If they show up in your garden, you can concentrate the caterpillars on a few plants, and reap a double bounty — dill and butterflies!

We were so mesmerized by this ravenous, chubby garden guest that we brought him inside and caught the precise movements of the his repast up close on video.

But now, his nap is making me sleepy…

SLR camera on tripod, photographing caterpillar, eating fresh dill herb


black swallowtail butterfly on dill herb plant


“Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
    nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin,
but dill is beaten out with a stick,
    and cumin with a rod.” ~Isaiah 28: 27  (ESV)

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~ Jacqueline

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9 Responses to Saving Seed / Attract Butterflies With Dill

  1. Oh I love the photo of your caterpillar…. fresh dill is also lovely mixed in with salad greens for a garden salad.

  2. Sheri says:

    I enjoyed the post.
    Sadly, we have so few butterfly caterpillars this summer. I think it must be the drought. In previous years we’d find 6 to 12 of all sizes while gathering parsley and dill for meals. I haven’t seen any monarch caterpillars in the yard either.

    • Jacqueline says:

      I agree. The numbers are way down here, too. We’ve only seen two little black swallowtails here. I am afraid the birds have gotten them as they are looking for food just to survive. The creek is very low and nearly dried up.

  3. LindaG says:

    Great post. Thanks!

  4. Pingback: Saving Seed / Attract Butterflies With Dill | Deep Roots at Home | Garden Flowers Plants

  5. Joy says:

    I had a dill plant that had tons of those same caterpillars on it. They ate the whole thing! I got a few pictures that I plan to share on my blog soon. :) Thanks for letting me know what kind of caterpillar they were!

    • Jacqueline says:

      I can’t wait to see your post!! Would you share the link on my wall when it’s out?? I’d love it if you would!
      I sometimes put them over on the parsley plant, too. This year there have been way fewer due to the drought here.

  6. Pingback: Saving seeds | DirtyGreenThumb

  7. Ellan says:

    Good info on dill and such beautiful photos! I’ll be planting mine this spring for the first time.
    Your blog is lovely and I’m looking forward to reading your other posts.

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