Plant Dill Seeds to Feed Black and Anise Swallowtail Caterpillars
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a wonderful herb from the celery family for attracting Black and Anise Swallowtail butterflies to your garden! It is a popular host plant, meaning that the adult female butterflies will lay their eggs on it to feed the caterpillars when they hatch. If the caterpillars manage to save you some, dill seed and its leaves are very popular as a culinary herb used in many dishes, dressings and dips.
Although most likely originating in the Mediterranean, dill has naturalized in parts of Europe and North America. Dill is grown around the world not only for culinary use, but also for its attractive feathery foliage and umbels of yellow flowers.
Characteristics of Dill
Dill is an annual that usually grows around 2-3 ft tall. It is erect with feathery fern-like leaves. The large umbels of yellow flowers that appear in late summer are a bit unusual (for an herb) in that they don’t produce a lot of nectar. This would make dill a much better host plant than a nectar plant.
Anethum graveolens likes full sun and will tolerate poor soil but prefers fertile soil with consistent medium moisture. It can handle dryness but may bolt earlier than normal. Dill does not like hot weather so will do best in cooler climates or in spring/early summer in hot climates. Part shade in hotter climates will help. It will also grow well in large, deep containers.
Germinating Dill Seeds
Sow dill seeds about 1/4 ” deep directly outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. Germination takes place in about 1-3 weeks at 60-70F. Thin to about 1 ft apart. Dill can also be started indoors several weeks before your last frost.
Dill is a favorite of Black Swallowtail Caterpillars! This is an attractive and tasty herb to share with them especially if you are in a cooler summer climate!