If you want an easy and quick growing plant to add to your home herb garden, then you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’ll be talking about how to grow chamomile.
Everything you need to know about growing chamomile including proper soil preparation, sun requirements, and water conditions will be discussed below! From planting to harvest, I’ve got everything covered.
I’ve always enjoyed my chamomile plants. They’re pretty to look at and they smell amazing— sweet, like a fresh fall apple. Not to mention, how versatile it is in the kitchen.
You may probably be familiar with chamomile as a tea. It’s a soothing drink that helps relieve stress and aid in sleeping. But did you know some people infuse it on cocktail drinks and ice creams? Some chefs like the mild sweetness and fruity, floral scent it brings.
Chamomile is also known for a number of health benefits as an alternative natural medicine. Some benefits include helping with inflammation and muscle spasms. It also aids in relieving Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
More studies need to be made to uncover all of this herb’s potential. But basically it’s tasty, healthy and easy to grow. I’d love for you to have one in your own garden.
That’s why I’m sharing everything I know about growing chamomile at home. After years of growing them in my garden, it’s time for the next gardeners to experience cultivating this plant. It’s time for you to grow your very own chamomile plant!
Keep on reading for the complete growing guide on chamomile.
Difficulty Level, Maintenance, And Other Advantages
Chamomile is a wonderful herb to add in your garden and it’s very easy and quick to grow. Beginners will have no problem growing this plant. As a plant that is both useful and visually appealing, it’s a good idea to grow them at home.
Once established, this plant requires very little care and it will still thrive. They grow so fast that in some places, they’re even considered as a form of weeds! Plus, they’re very easy to start. Even if it is started from seeds, it’s uncomplicated and very straightforward.
They’re also not that picky when it comes to soil conditions. They can grow perfectly fine in either well-draining soil or poor to average soil. You also don’t need to water them all the time. It’s drought-tolerant and will actually like its soil to be dry between moderate waterings.
This is a plant that you don’t need to fuss over with. Once established, just enjoy your fast growing plant thrive in your garden. One last thing, did you know that planting chamomile with certain plants can make it act as a natural pest repellent? Just amazing.
I’m excited for you to grow chamomile at home. I hope you enjoy it!
Everything You Need To Know About Growing Chamomile
When is the best time to plant chamomile?
Just like with every other plant, timing is key to a successful planting. Make sure you are growing your chamomile at the best time. In this section, you need to check your local frost dates for a more accurate planting time.
Generally, spring is the best time to plant your chamomile.
August is also a good time to plant your chamomile outdoors. You can also opt to start sowing seeds indoors about 3 to 4 weeks before the last local frost. In just 7 to 14 days, the seeds should germinate. Transplant them outdoors after a hardening off period.
You can harden off the chamomile transplants for about 10 days before transferring them to their final location.
You can also sow seeds directly on the ground. Just make sure you do this after all the dangers of frost have already passed. Directly seeded chamomile is best done in the fall. Over the winter, you have to let the seed stratify in order to have a spring crop.
How do I start a chamomile plant?
You can grow chamomile from seeds or from transplants. Both are easily done and are simple to set-up but I prefer growing chamomile from seeds. It’s cheaper that way.
Starting chamomile from either of these methods are both relatively easy so I’d rather opt for the option where I can save more bucks. I suggest you do too.
You can get chamomile seeds at your local garden center. Make sure the seeds you’ll use are pathogen-free to avoid problems in the future. You should always look for high-quality seeds, preferably from a reputable seller. This one from Amazon is the one I used.
Once established, I let my chamomile set seed and it’s been self-seeding ever since.
What chamomile varieties should I grow?
There are two varieties of chamomile that are most commonly grown at home. German chamomile and Roman chamomile are both wonderful additions to any garden. Let me tell you a little bit about each of these varieties so you can choose what to grow.
Who knows by the end of this section, you might want to grow both of them!
German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) -This chamomile is grown as an annual plant. Some people mistake it for a perennial though ‘cause they self-seed so easily and readily.
Between the two types of chamomile, this one is the more popular variety. It’s the most common form of the chamomile plant and is cultivated to be the herb form of the plant. It grows to 18 inches tall according to Purdue University and produces miniature daisy-like flowers.
These charming flowers are so visually appealing that it can make any space charming.
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) – This variety is known as the true chamomile. It’s a low growing perennial that is hardy in zones 3 to 9. It’s also cultivated for its herbal properties but it’s mostly used as a groundcover.
It’s used in landscapes as a flowering ground cover between stones and pavers. Some people also use it as a lawn substitute. Compared to the German chamomile, it doesn’t produce that many blooms. It does, however, smell wonderful.
Choose what variety to grow. Are you gonna use it for its herbal properties or you want it as a beautiful groundcover? Either way, they’re welcome in any garden.
Should I grow chamomile in a container or grow it in the ground?
Chamomile is best grown in the ground, preferably in raised beds or a section in your garden that can contain them. I’ve seen other gardeners successfully grow them in containers so you may try that too, but they’re prone to rot. Especially when your soil is soggy.
If you still want to plant them in containers, a 12” round pot will do.
In this growing guide, I’ll be growing them in raised beds. I want everyone to see my beautiful chamomile plants!
How do I prepare the soil?
German chamomile – This variety of chamomile will grow best in a not too rich organic soil. Even a poor to average soil will do. They’re very forgiving when it comes to soil pH, but prefers a neutral soil. If it ranges between 5.6 and 7.5, it’s perfect.
- Roman chamomile – Just like the German chamomile, Roman chamomile also prefers an organic soil that is not too rich. It can also tolerate poorer soils but the stems might be a little floppy. It grows best with neutral pH ranging between 5.6 and 7.5.
How do I plant the chamomile?
Although you can start seeds indoors, I prefer to just directly seed them on the ground during spring or fall. They’re not fussy so they’ll grow perfectly well. This part is super easy, hands down one of the easiest plants to start.
Once all the dangers of frost have passed, scatter the chamomile seeds over loose soil and gently tamp them down. You don’t really need to cover them with soil after if you tamped them down properly.
Wait for the seeds to germinate, it’ll take about 7 to 14 days. Seeds prefer to germinate in temperatures ranging between 45-55 F. (7-13 C.) When the seedlings are about an inch, thin them so that they’re 2 to 4 inches apart.
I like to directly seed them on the ground ‘cause it’s easy and chamomile plants don’t really like to be transplanted once they’ve established roots and started to bloom.
But if you do want to start them indoors and get ahead of the season, start 3 to 4 weeks before the last local frost date. Get a seedling tray and fill it with a well-draining potting mix. Scatter the seeds and press them down firmly. Again, don’t cover them with soil.
Place them in a sunny spot, it needs light to germinate. It will take 7 to 14 days to germinate. Once the dangers of frost have passed, transfer them outdoors to their final location. Space them 2 to 4 inches apart.
Once your chamomile plants are established, you’re left with very little to do. I told you it was easy and very simple!
How and when do I thin my chamomile plant?
If you directly seeded the chamomile seeds on the ground wait for the seedlings to grow. When the seedlings are about an inch, thin them so that they’re 2 to 4 inches apart.
How much water does my chamomile plant really need?
German chamomile – You don’t need to water them regularly. Allow your plants to dry out in between moderate waterings. You don’t need to fuss over it too much. Just let it grow organically.
- Roman chamomile – Regular watering, soaked thoroughly, will keep your plants blooming longer. Allow for the soil to dry between each watering. Remember, once established, chamomile plants are very drought tolerant so water accordingly.
When you are located in regions with extremely hot climates, adjust the amount of water and give it a little bit more. It will also appreciate it if you give it some shade during the hottest time in the afternoon.
How often does my chamomile plant need to be fertilized?
One of the perks of growing this ridiculously low maintenance plant is that you don’t need to fertilize it. It will grow perfectly well in a not so rich organic soil. It’ll grow quickly without needing to be fed.
How much sun does my chamomile plant need?
German chamomile – German chamomile thrives in either full sun or partial shade. It will, however, flower the best when given full sun. These flowers generally appear in late spring.
The standard six hours of sunlight is preferred. When grown in regions with hot climates, giving them partial shade is the better option.
- Roman chamomile – Just like the German chamomile, it requires full to partial sun. The more sunlight it gets the faster it will grow. And since this is a rapid-growing plant, that’s not really an issue.
And again, when you are located in regions with extremely hot climates, your chamomile plants will appreciate it if you give them some shade during the hottest time in the afternoon.
Which climate better suits chamomile? (Best Hardiness Zones)
Generally, chamomile plants can perfectly grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 9. Chamomile prefers cool weather conditions rather than extreme warm climates of some regions so these zones are perfect for growing chamomile.
How long does it take to grow chamomile?
It will only take about 8 weeks from seeds for the chamomile plants to grow. Your chamomile plants will be in full bloom at this point and you can start harvesting the flowers using a chamomile rake.
If you don’t have one, why not try this one (link to Amazon). You can also harvest individual flowers by leaving 3 inches of the stem on and cutting it there. Leave some of the flowers. Let them seed. These fallen seeds will eventually grow to a new batch of chamomile.
What are the common pests and diseases that could ruin my chamomile plant and how do I avoid it?
You don’t have to worry too much about pests and diseases when it comes to chamomile. Most pests only come with minimal disease issues, nothing fatal. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, right? Just knowing what to expect means you can handle these potential problems better.
Here are some of the diseases and pests you need to look out for:
Leaf Blight – This disease is caused by fungi called Botrytis squamosa. It affects the leaves of the plant with small white lesions with light green linings. The lesions could expand through time.
Replacing the soil after each growing season is one of the ways to control this and it is also really important to do so since fungi tend to stay on soil.
Powdery Mildew – Symptoms include stunted and shriveled leaves as well as white powdery deposits over the leaf surface. See to it that the soil is kept moist to avoid this problem.
Mealy bugs – You can see the nymphs and adult mealy bugs near the base of your plant in clumps. Commonly expected during the dry months. A complete infestation of these pests may dry out your plant but you can easily control this.
To prevent it, keep the soil weed free. Always remove the dried up clumps when you see one. You can also use this neem oil garlic emulsion (2%) from Amazon on the affected areas.
Aphids – Keep your garden clean. Aphids are soft-bodied insects that often appear in clumps. Always be on the lookout for these critters. They can come in black, brown, red or green colors. They may suck your plant’s juices and can transmit viral diseases.
To control, you can use registered chemicals in proper amounts as instructed. But I prefer the more organic approach. I use natural repellent mixes like garlic or onion extracts.
- Thrips – Pests like thrips can infest older plants. Once infected, your plant will have crinkled or very narrow leaves. If you see any of your plants having this symptom, destroy the infected plant immediately to prevent spreading the disease.
Most of these pests don’t really pose much threat and can be left alone. Another perk of growing this plant is that most insects stay clear of it. It has a natural pest deterrent quality that most insects hate to go near it.
Did you know that it can even be used as a natural cucumber pest deterrent? It’s a great companion plant for cucumbers.
And pests like the occasional aphids and thrips can easily be taken care of by spraying them away with a jet of water or by using insecticidal soap. So you really have nothing to worry about when planting chamomile.
What other crops could I plant together with my chamomile to maximize my garden space?
Since we’ve dipped into companion planting earlier with chamomile acting as a natural pest repellent, let me give you a quick crash course on companion planting. You know just to refresh you a bit on the subject.
And if you have no idea what companion planting is, here’s the idea:
There are certain plants that are better when grown together. Some of the benefits they can get from each other include natural pest control, higher crop yield and shade protection for sun-sensitive plants.
For example, planting chamomile next to cucumbers will repel the pests that attack them benefiting the cucumbers with a natural pest control.
Here are some plants you can grow next to your chamomile:
We’ll cut it at ten or this list might never be over. There are a lot of plants that you can grow near your chamomile. So many possible additions to your garden! I hope this little list inspired you to grow more plants and fill your garden with all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
Check out my other growing guides, you might find your next plant to grow there.
What are the crops that will not go well with chamomile?
Sadly, not all plants can be grown together as it wouldn’t be beneficial for both parties. Either their growing conditions just don’t fit well together or some pests and diseases can travel or spread faster among them when grown near with each other.
But the good news is that it doesn’t apply to chamomile! Even now, there are still no known plants that won’t grow well with chamomile! Basically, you can grow any plant near your chamomile and there won’t be any grave consequences.
Fun! Now you can continue growing other plants near it without worrying about the effects.
How do I harvest chamomile and when is the best time to do it?
Chamomile is ready for harvest in about 8 weeks when grown from seed. When the chamomile plant is in full bloom, you can just continue harvesting as you need but leave some of them. You want them to set seed. These seeds will re-grow into new chamomile blooms.
The flowerhead is the part of the chamomile that you need to harvest, not its leaves nor its stalks. The best time of the day to harvest these flowers is in the morning—just when the dew has dried off and before the sun starts to make the flowers a bit droopy.
Use a chamomile rake or use your hands as a comb to get the flowerheads. You can also just pinch off each individual head. Alternatively, if you want to use them like fresh cut flowers, leave at least 3 inches of the stem and cut it there.
Now you have fresh blooms!
What is the best way to store the chamomile that I have harvested?
Look at the flowers you’ve harvested and see to it that there are no longer dirt or insects on it before storing.
You can wash these flowerheads but make sure to drain it well and gently pat them dry. I actually don’t always do this but you can opt to add this step to make sure your flowerheads are clean.
There are two ways to dry your flowerheads: Aird Dry and Dehydration.
To air-dry the chamomile flowers, spread them out and let them dry for about 2 weeks in a dark area. Make sure it’s warm and dry.
To dehydrate them, place the flowerheads on a lined dehydrator tray. Place a mesh liner on top of the chamomile flowers to keep them in place. Set your dehydrator on its lowest setting (95°F or 35°C). You should dry them for 12 to 18 hours for optimum results.
Once the chamomile flowers are completely dried and cooled, store them in a well-sealed glass jar and keep them out of direct heat and sunlight. They will keep for about a year.
|Botanical Name||Matricaria recutita, Chamaemelum nobile|
|Sun Exposure||Full Sun|
|Soil Type||Not too rich, organic soil|
|Soil pH||5.6 to 7.5|
|Bloom Time||Spring and Summer|
|Flower Color||White petals with yellow center|
|Hardiness Zones||3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9|