How to grow chamomile?

Chamomile Care Indoors – Learn How To Grow Chamomile Indoors

Chamomile is a fantastic herb to grow. Its foliage and flowers are bright, its fragrance is sweet, and the tea that can be brewed from the leaves is relaxing and easy to make. While it will thrive outdoors, chamomile will also grow very well indoors in a pot. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow chamomile indoors.

How to Grow Chamomile Indoors

One of the best things about growing chamomile indoors is that it can be planted in the winter. Requiring only four hours of light per day, your chamomile will be fine as long as it has a spot by a south-facing window. It will probably grow no

higher than 10 inches (25 cm), but the plant will still be healthy and the flowers fragrant.

Sow your chamomile seeds directly in the soil. You can start them in small seed starters and transplant them, or begin them in their ultimate pot. Choose a pot that’s at least 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter and has good drainage.

Wet your potting soil so that it’s moist but not sodden, and press the seeds into the surface of the soil so that they’re still visible – chamomile seeds need light to germinate. The seeds will germinate best at a temperature of 68 F. (20 C.), so if your house is cold, place them on a heating mat or near a radiator. They should sprout in about two weeks. After they’ve developed their second set of true leaves, transplant them if they began in a seed starter or thin them to one every 2 inches (5 cm) if they began in a big pot.

Chamomile Care Indoors

Care of chamomile indoors is easy. The pot should be kept near a south-facing window. The soil should be kept moist but not overly wet; watering once per week should be enough. After 60 to 90 days, the plant should be ready to harvest for tea.

How to Grow Chamomile

Days to germination: 7 to 14 days
Days to harvest: 30 days
Light requirements: Full sun or light shade
Water requirements: Occasional watering
Soil: Light sandy soil with good drainage
Container: Suitable

Introduction

Though chamomile is one of the best-known herbs for tea, it can be a bit confusing when it comes to the specific varieties. You can grow either German chamomile or Roman (English) chamomile but they are not the same plant. While they may be used interchangeably when making tea, the two plants are very different when it comes to how you grow them.

German chamomile is an annual, and it grows in a bushy shrub up to 3 feet tall. On the other hand, Roman chamomile is a perennial that only gets about a foot high and tends to grow along the ground. Though both will produce very similar aromatic blossoms, it’s German chamomile that is the more commonly grown for its blossoms. The information in this article will focus on how to grow the German variety in your garden.

Chamomile bushes have blooms with small white flowers with large yellow centers (like small daisies), and it has a distinctive apple-like aroma when in bloom. Though it can be grown in a flower bed, the blooms are very small compared to the large and rather wild-looking bush.

Chamomile tea is enjoyed for its taste, and as a home-remedy for stomach upset. It also can help you fall asleep in the evenings. There are no significant levels of any other nutrients in chamomile tea.

If you have hayfever or allergies to ragweed, you may find that chamomile has the same effect on you because they are closely related. That includes the plants growing outdoors, but also the tea you brew as well.

Starting from Seed

You can start your chamomile seeds indoors for later transplant, about 6 weeks before you are expecting the last frost of the winter. Start them in seed pots but don’t bury the seeds under the soil. They need light to sprout, so just sprinkle a few seeds in each pot right on the surface of your potting soil.

Keep them moist, and thin down to one per pot after they start to grow. Your seedlings should be kept in a sunny spot until its time to plant them. For container growing, you can sprout your seeds directly into their final pot if kept indoors until after the frosts are past.

Transplanting

You’ll want to keep your little seedlings about 12 to 18 inches apart when you plant them. Sunny locations are best for chamomile but they will do just fine with a little bit of shade as well. Plant them into the garden after the last frost is over.

Though an annual that will only survive for one year, chamomile will readily seed itself. That means you can have an ongoing patch of chamomile if you let some of the blossoms go to seed rather than picking them all. If you take this route, plan your location with the intention of having a permanent chamomile bed.

You can also plant your chamomile seeds directly into the garden, rather than starting transplants if you prefer. In that case, you can either sow your seeds in the early spring or even put the seeds out in the fall to overwinter.

Growing Instructions

Chamomile isn’t a very heavy feeder, and you should only need to add a bit of standard fertilizer right at planting. Unless you have very poor soil, you don’t need to fertilize through the season.

Your plants will likely thrive without additional watering though they can use more water once they start to bloom, or during any prolonged bout of hot dry weather.

Containers

Chamomile grows very well in containers, though is a little large for most window-sill herb gardens. Each plant should have a 12-inch pot to itself, and the soil should be well-drained with some added sand. Water the plants occasionally, maybe once a week.

Since chamomile does seed very well, and has a tendency to spread around the garden, many gardeners keep their chamomile in pots. You can keep your plant a bit more under control, and grow your chamomile in a location that it can’t spread (such as a patio or deck).

In the garden, it will self-seed and keep your patch growing. In a container, this isn’t likely to happen. So you should collect a few seeds in order to replant more chamomile the next season if you want to perpetuate your plants.

Pests and Diseases

Not very many insects will bother your chamomile plants, and they even repel cucumber beetles (so plant near the veggie garden).

You do sometimes find clusters of tiny aphids on chamomile but they are not much of a threat. They are easy to spray off with the regular garden hose, or a little bit of insecticide spray can help control the bugs. Only use pesticides intended for fruits or vegetables, and don’t spray right before you intend to pick your flowers.

Harvest and Storage

Your plants can bloom all through the summer, so there isn’t any one specific harvest time. Most plants will start to put out flowers about a month after planting.

Harvesting your chamomile flowers is a tedious task, but worth the effort. You only want the blossoms, not their stems which means you have to pick them quite carefully. Of course, you can always go through your chamomile after picking to remove any extra bits of stem later. You can use fresh flowers for tea, but it’s more typical to dry them before use.

Spread them out somewhere warm and well-ventilated to thoroughly dry. Direct sunlight can harm the chamomile oils, so don’t just leave them out in the sun to dry. Indoors is usually best. Once dry, you can store chamomile flowers in a sealed container for a year.

When making tea, you’ll need approximately 1 teaspoon of dried flowers per up. For brewing with fresh chamomile blossoms, use almost twice that. Add a little honey for sweetness.

  1. Chef_Rach Says:
    July 8th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I am growing the Roman camomile. My sister and I tasted it both fresh and dry. Both times it tasted really bad. It had such a strong bitter flavor that I could not drink it. I did dry it correctly. Do you possibley know why it tasted this bad? Thank you.

  2. Gina Says:
    February 8th, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Have just read that Roman Chamomile is a little bitter, German Chamomile is sweeter.

  3. Annelise Says:
    March 6th, 2012 at 11:29 am

    It’s just the way Chamomile tastes. I suggest drinking it with local honey (good to sweeten and ward off allergies) and a few drops of honey to cut through the honey for easier drinking and a bit of extra flavor. Then you’ll taste the chamomile, which is really quite delicious and relaxing!

  4. helen Says:
    March 23rd, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    we have just discovered that the profusion of flowers in our “wild bit” of garden is in fact looking more and more likely to be chamomile – I have always wanted to grow this and now see that nature has provided. What I would like to ask though is there any way I can transplant a plant and put it somewhere else (like the herb patch) – it seems they come back every year but in spain I also know by Jun- July I know all the flowers become quite burnt out and I want to put some in a protected area. Any advice would be wonderful, Thank you so much x

  5. Glenda Says:
    June 14th, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Hi Helen!

    I have wild chamomile growing in my yard. It is pretty tall, so I assume it is the German kind. Last year it came up all on its own, and I let it get bigger. This year it came back in the same spot and other places (including in some pots where I didn’t want it). My b/f accidentally pulled a whole bunch of it thinking it was a weed, at the very beginning of the season. He pulled it roughly, and it sat out for a few hours. Afterwards, he proposed to try and put it back in the ground because the roots had come up with it. He did, and it came out fine.

    Long story short: I am positive you can dig it out, especially when it’s still little, and just replant it somewhere you actually want it.

  6. Nikki Fotheringham Says:
    September 8th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    The German chamomile is sweeter, but a less prolific flowerer. So if you want to use it for tea, either have many plants or use a mix of the Roman and German varieties.

  7. Evon Says:
    March 4th, 2013 at 5:56 am

    German Chamomile is best harvested for consumption. Possibly the tea was bitter because it was picked too early. Wait until the white petals are drooping down. Dry indoors. I add honey and ginger to achieve the most medicinal value.

  8. Dottie Washington Says:
    March 6th, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    How can I get my chamomile to bloom inside of my house?

    Thanks

    Dottie

  9. Yuki Says:
    May 8th, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I have been growing Roman Chamomile. I noticed that on its leaves, there are purplish-reddish spots on it. The spots look suspicious and I’m worried for my flowers. I havent read anywhere if they’re normal or not.

  10. Nagwan Koroma Says:
    May 16th, 2013 at 4:43 am

    Can it grow in countries like Sierra Leone west africa where we have tropical Climate?
    If yes, when exactly. we only have two seasons: the raing and the dry?

  11. adarsha pradhan Says:
    June 14th, 2013 at 5:41 am

    Dear Sir/madam

    I want to have commercial production in Nepal.Where can I get germany chamomile seeds.Has its market?

    With regards

    Adarsha

  12. Arlene Says:
    August 16th, 2013 at 5:59 am

    You can buy seeds at Amazon.com. The seeds are tiny and 20,000 seeds are about $10.00 USD. I bought them twice as the first time I put them directly into the ground and the sun dried them out. Now I have them in shallow containers to keep them moist, in full sun, and cover them when temps fall to 40? ?F.

  13. patrickf Says:
    December 29th, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    where can you find chamomile growing? i found several chamomile plants growing on a beach in ireland

  14. arjan Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Can we use leaves and flowers of german chamomile to prepare tea?

  15. arjan Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Can we use leaves and stiems of german chamomilie to prepare tea?

  16. k morris Says:
    April 14th, 2014 at 8:15 am

    if you pick anything when it is bolting (seeding)it will be bitter tasting-must pick off seed heads off any foodplant or herb,seeding will ruin the taste.

  17. LC Says:
    May 21st, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Arjan, you use only the flowers to make the tea.
    I brought some from Albania and it’s so sweet. Here in Boston, I haven’t been able to find chamomile as good and flavorful as the one I brought from back home.

  18. Hope keener Says:
    June 26th, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Those are really good instructions.

  19. Tiffany Says:
    July 11th, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Has anyone had any issues with mushrooms growing when they potted chamomile seeds? I have no idea how they started growing, but the entire pot is full of tiny mushrooms.

    Any advice on how to handle? Will the chamomile still grow or should I start over?

  20. Pagan Raven Says:
    April 11th, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Tiffany – just for future reference, mushroom spores can travel quiet a long ways in the wind. That’s most likely what happened.
    It won’t harm your chamomile BUT you do want to pick out any mushrooms you see sprouting. If left in the pot, they will crowd out the chamomile.

  21. Mandy James Says:
    June 1st, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Hi, I was wondering why my German Chamomile was having droopy flowers. Does this mean they’re ready to pick or are they sick? Also, I only have one plant; do you think that will be enough for a good amount of tea for winter?

  22. Mandy James Says:
    June 1st, 2015 at 11:55 am

    My German Chamomile is full of droopy flower petals; does this mean that I can pick them yet? Also, do I need more than one plant to have enough tea for winter? Thanks!

  23. Carley Says:
    June 9th, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Hi! I just wanted to post that I have grown my German Chamomile for 4 years in a decent size container that sits on my deck. I live in Pittsburgh Pa and we have pretty intense winters, however, every year I have left the chamomile plant in its container outside on the deck throughout the winter. And each spring it comes back with vengeance. The only problems I have ever had with it is that the little black ants love it. They haven’t harmed it in anyway, they are just unsightly.

  24. Chris Says:
    June 13th, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Droopy flowers mean the chamomile is ready to pick.

  25. Keith Jones Says:
    January 28th, 2016 at 4:32 am

    Hi, bought Chamomile seeds from Amazon and they arrived from Beiging, China am I OK to start propogating them? is there a Chinese Chamomile? sorry if these are silly questions – bit of a gardening novice 🙁

  26. Vicky Says:
    February 17th, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Any chance chamomile will grow in ft worth Texas?

  27. Ascent Says:
    February 22nd, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Vicky, I’m in the South too. Your problem in ft worth will be the hot, parched summer. Yes, a rainy summer may occur but don’t count on it and, eventually, pro-longed sun and heat will succumb your plants. Either go with pots that can be moved as needed to keep them from burning and drying out or, consider a shade screen or overhead light-diffusing structure. The difference will be remarkable and you’ll grow all summer long!

  28. Mel Says:
    July 2nd, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Thanks for all your insightful comments about chamomile. I don’t know which variety I have but it’s in the ground – from plant since May and hasn’t bloomed yet. Big, bushy, light green – looks really healthy. I water every day. Maybe too much water for it to go to flower? Can anyone help? thanks!

  29. Eric Says:
    August 27th, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Can I grow the Roman chamomile in the tropics like the Caribbean?

  30. Eric Says:
    August 27th, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Can I grow chamomile in the Caribbean (tropics)?

  31. Corinne Says:
    November 22nd, 2016 at 12:55 am

    Chamomile is more bitter when it is dried, and sweeter when fresh. Dried chamomile acts more on the liver and digestive sysem, and when fresh has more of an action on the nervous system with a relaxing effect. Have you tried it as a tea fresh?

  32. Crystal Says:
    December 20th, 2016 at 4:51 am

    In February, I’ll be giving a talk on Herbal Teas. Chamomile is one of the easiest ones to grow. So, I’ll be using a commercial tea bag. Break it open and there will be more seeds than I’ll need. But, I’ll be able to start some 4″ pots to give to all those in attendance. Cheap way to get it going.

  33. jacklyne Says:
    February 11th, 2017 at 12:07 am

    which type of chamomile can grow in africa specifically in kenya?would like to grow them in large scale thanxs,jackie

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How to Grow Chamomile

Discover how easy it is to grow chamomile. Before you know it, you’ll be harvesting and brewing your own, homegrown chamomile tea.

My Chamomile Garden in June

What Kind of Chamomile to Grow

For newbie herbal tea gardeners, l recommend growing German Chamomile rather than the Roman variety (also known as “English Chamomile”).
Why? Because German Chamomile:

  1. germinates quickly and easily from seed;
  2. grows virtually anywhere with very little care; and
  3. produces waaaaay more flowers (i.e., more tea) than the Roman variety.

One small packet of German Chamomile seeds is all you’ll need for a bountiful harvest of chamomile tea!

where to grow Chamomile

Chamomile prefers a location that’s reasonably sunny with average garden soil. At least 6 hours a day of direct (but not scorching) sunlight is good.
If you’re in an area where the mid-summer sun is like a blast furnace, go with a location that gets sun until noon or 1 p.m., then part-shade in the afternoon.
Another option is to grow your chamomile in moveable planters. Container gardening gives you total control over your soil quality and sun exposure.

Chamomile in a Planter on My Deck

how to Plant Chamomile

Prepare Your Soil. Make sure your soil is loose, rock and weed-free, and reasonably level.
Handle your seeds with care. Chamomile seeds are tiny. A gust of wind can blow them right out of your hand. (Yep, I learned that the hard way!)

Super-Closeup of Chamomile Seeds in Garden Soil
(See the 2 Seeds in the Green Box? Tiny!)

Slowly sprinkle a light dusting of seeds directly onto the soil.
If a big glob of seeds falls in one spot, that’s okay. Just take your finger and gently move the seeds around until they’re as evenly distributed as you can get them.
It’s not a big deal if some of your seeds germinate too closely together. You’ll be “thinning the herd” soon, anyway.
Firm Your Seeds In. Once your seeds are scattered across the soil, press them down ever so gently with your fingers.

Firm the seeds onto the soil, but don’t bury them! Chamomile seeds need direct exposure to sunlight the germinate well.
Mist Your Seeds. Now, mist the planted area until it’s evenly damp. Don’t soak, just mist!

Mark Your Location. Place a garden marker in the soil to remind yourself what’s planted there. (This step is optional, but highly recommended.)

Water and Wait. For the next week or so, make sure the planted area stays evenly moist. And be patient! If Mother Nature cooperates with nice warm weather, in about 10 days you’ll begin to see little seedlings popping up.

Tiny Chamomile Seedling
A Few Days After Sprouting

Helpful Hint: In cold-winter regions, you can sow your chamomile seeds in late fall, after all chance of warm weather has passed.
The seeds will stay dormant all winter, then begin sprouting in early spring. It’s a great way to get a head start for next year!

Thinning Your Seedlings

As much as it might break your heart to remove any precious little sprouts from their bed, it must be done. For the best flowering (i.e., lots of tea), these babies need plenty of air circulation and room to grow.
So suck it up. Be strong. Do what you have to do!

I Shoulda Thinned These Seedlings Two Weeks Ago!

Carefully remove the smaller, weaker-looking seedlings, leaving each remaining seedling with at least 4 square inches (10 sq. cm) of space all to itself.

As you’re thinning, be sure not to disturb the delicate roots of nearby “keeper” seedlings.
I use a small pair of cuticle scissors to snip the “go-ers” at dirt level, rather than pull them out of the soil. Scissors are a less traumatic removal method – for all involved 😉

Love The Cuticle Scissors For Thinning Tiny Seedlings!

Transplanting Chamomile Seedlings

Some herb gardeners will tell you that chamomile doesn’t like to be transplanted. Nonsense! I’ve never had a problem doing it.

The best time to transplant chamomile seedlings is when they’re 2 – 3 inches (5 – 8 cm) tall. Once the plant gets taller and starts to produce buds, it’s totally focused on flowering. At that point, leave it alone to do its thing!!!

Buds Forming On Young Chamomile Plant

Here’s my foolproof method for transplanting chamomile:

  • First, get your plant’s new location ready. If you’re transplanting to a container, fill the container with pre-moistened potting mix. For transplanting into the garden, make sure the soil is loose, well-draining, and weed-free.
  • Then, very carefully dig up the seedling you want to move. To keep its delicate root system intact, dig up a good-sized gob of dirt along with the roots.

Helpful Hint: When I’m transplanting small seedlings, I use an old kitchen tablespoon as a tiny, makeshift trowel.

  • Now, settle your seedling into its new home, and gently tuck new soil around the little “root ball”.
    Be sure to set your transplant at the same depth in its new home as it was in its prior location.
  • Finally, lightly water your transplanted chamomile plant, and give it a kiss for luck!
    (Okay, the kiss is optional. But it can’t hurt 😉

Caring for Your Chamomile Plants

When I say these plants pretty much take care of themselves, I’m not kidding. In all my years of growing this herb, I’ve found only one thing that’ll do it in: Overwatering.

watering

Chamomile plants only need a moderate amount of moisture to keep them growing strong.

After your seedlings have established themselves in your garden or container, give them a nice, deep drink of water once a week – less often during rainy spells.

fertilizing

Very little, if any, fertilizing is necessary. A little compost scratched into your garden soil in the spring should be enough to keep your plants fed.

For container-grown chamomile, add a small dose of organic liquid fertilizer to your watering can each time you water.
*Note: I use Neptune’s Harvest Organic Fish & Seaweed liquid fertilizer, mixed with water at 1/2 the recommended strength.

pruning

No pruning is necessary. Just harvest fresh blossoms every few days. That’ll encourage repeat flowering.

invasiveness

Is chamomile invasive? Yes and no. It depends on how you tend to your plants.
German chamomile spreads by re-seeding itself. The cure for unwanted re-seeding is to harvest the flowers while they’re fresh, before they go to seed. More tea, less re-seeding. It’s all good!!

DIY CHAMOMILE TEA
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