Dumb question of the day....

mbhoneybee63(5)June 19, 2011

Sorry this is such a basic question, but you just don't know till you ask. Last year I had great success with using parsley for BST's to lay eggs in my garden in south central Ohio. This year I decided to add dill to the mix and have already found 2 bst cats. I have never grown dill before. My question is...how and at what point do you trim your dill. I have a plant that has produced a couple yellow flowers. Is it going to seed? Do you leave the flowers on or cut them off? Now that the top part has been eaten off by cats, do you trim it way back and it will grow back fuller?

Next question is about parsley. The curly parsley planted last year never really died over winter and stayed pretty green. It is now sending off tall flower shoots. I have cut those off since my host plants are tucked within my flower beds. I have read parsley is a biennial and was wondering what to expect out of it the second year.

I also have second year rue growing that has flowers...do you let them flower or cut them off?

Thanks in advance for your response!


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Hi Melissa,

I'm glad you asked these questions. I've been wondering about my flowering parsley and if I should cut it back or not. Didn't know what was best for the cats - leave it or cut it.

Not a dumb question. I'll be watching for the answers, too.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 10:35PM
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I cut off the flowers when I see them to encourage more foliage. That way they are not wasting energy on producing seed. My opinion...cut them.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Garden

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 7:38AM
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terrene(5b MA)

If you want to pinch the Dill, I would do it when it is fairly small. Dill goes to seed fairly early in the summer, and then peters out in hot weather, so it is not a long-lived host plant.

As for parsley, yes it is biennial and will go to seed the 2nd year, if it survives over the winter. The crown can rot fairly easily during winter if it doesn't have good drainage.

As for the seed heads, I wouldn't cut off them all off. One drawback is that the flowers tend to attract wasps. However, the BSTs seemed to love to lay eggs in the seedheads. I had numerous cats on my one huge curly parsley plant that went to seed last year, of assorted sizes hiding in the seedheads. This was also the first time the BSTs had used parsley as a host plant in my garden.

Also, if you let it go to seed, it will reseed for you or you can collect seed.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 11:41AM
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bob_71(z7 MD)

In my garden, I grow three plants of the Apiaceae family for the Black Swallowtails. The order of bloom is Dill, Fennel and then Parsley. That is also the order in which the Black Swallowtail lays her eggs...Dill, Fennel, and then Parsley. The caterpillars are always eating from the flowers downward.
This seems to me, to be an indication that it might be a mistake to prune off the bloom heads on these plants. Of these three plants, parsley is the only one that has any substantial leaves and the caterpillars on my plants are found lower on the plant than on the others.

When I observe the plants that have hosted caterpillars for several days, it is always the blooms that have been depleted most. Note the placement of these caterpillars on this Dill plant.

And this one of a Monarch caterpillar on the Common Milkweed.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 11:51AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Beautiful pictures, Bob!
Many cats do indeed prefer the flowers over the leaves - sulphurs are also flower lovers.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 12:56PM
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Thanks for the info everyone and the beautiful pics, Bob. I'm glad to know the flowers can stay without depleting the plant till the point of it's death. I also had no idea the bst cats would even be remotely intersted in the flowers. I love learning new things!!!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 7:47PM
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