How To Plant Chamomile [ Full Guide ]

Chamomile is a delicate and aromatic herb that is known for its many health benefits and its calming properties. It’s easy to grow and can thrive both indoors and outdoors. Whether you want to grow chamomile for its flowers, which are used in teas, or for its essential oil, learning how to plant chamomile is the first step towards enjoying the benefits of this wonderful herb.

Before getting started on how to plant chamomile, it’s important to understand the two main types of chamomile that are commonly grown: German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). German chamomile is an annual plant that grows best from seed and produces small, daisy-like flowers. Roman chamomile is a perennial plant that is often grown as a ground cover and can be propagated from divisions or grown from seed.

Both types of chamomile are relatively easy to grow, requiring minimal maintenance and providing beautiful, fragrant blooms. In this guide, we will walk through the steps to successfully plant chamomile, from choosing the right location to caring for the seedlings.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Chamomile

  • Step 1: Choosing the right location for chamomile
  • Step 2: Preparing the soil for chamomile
  • Step 3: Seed selection and planting
  • Step 4: Caring for chamomile seedlings

Now, let’s dive into each step in detail.

Choosing The Right Location For Chamomile

Chamomile thrives in full sun, requiring at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. When choosing a location to plant chamomile, select a spot with well-draining soil as chamomile does not tolerate wet feet. The pH of the soil should ideally be between 5.6 and 7.5.

If you’re growing chamomile in containers, choose a location that receives plenty of sunlight, such as a south-facing patio or balcony. Ensure that the containers have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

For garden planting, find a location where the soil is well-drained and not overly compacted. Chamomile can struggle in overly fertile soil, so avoid areas with rich, amended soil as it can lead to leggy growth and reduced oil content in the flowers.

Preparing The Soil For Chamomile

Once you’ve chosen the location, preparing the soil is crucial for the successful growth of chamomile. Begin by clearing the area of any weeds or debris. Loosen the soil to a depth of about 8-12 inches to ensure that the roots can penetrate easily and the soil drains well.

Chamomile does not require overly rich soil, so avoid heavy fertilization. A light application of a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, can be worked into the soil before planting. If the soil is too acidic, adding some lime can help bring the pH closer to the ideal range for chamomile.

For container planting, use a well-draining potting mix with added perlite or coarse sand to improve drainage. Avoid using heavy garden soil, as it can lead to waterlogging and root rot in container-grown chamomile.

Seed Selection And Planting

When it comes to planting chamomile, you have the option of starting from seeds or purchasing chamomile seedlings. If you choose to start from seeds, select a high-quality seed from a reputable supplier. German and Roman chamomile seeds are readily available online or at garden centers.

Plant chamomile seeds directly in the prepared soil after the last frost date in your area. Sow the seeds thinly, as chamomile can self-seed and spread readily. Press the seeds lightly into the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil or compost.

For container planting, sow the seeds in the prepared potting mix, ensuring that the containers have adequate drainage. Water the soil lightly after planting to settle the seeds.

Chamomile seeds typically germinate within 7-14 days when the soil temperature is around 60-70°F (15-21°C). Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged during the germination period.

Caring For Chamomile Seedlings

Once the chamomile seedlings emerge, it’s essential to provide proper care to ensure healthy growth and abundant blooms. Here are some key steps to care for chamomile seedlings:

  • Watering: Chamomile prefers evenly moist soil. Water the seedlings when the top inch of soil feels dry. Overly wet soil can lead to root rot, so ensure that the soil has good drainage.

  • Thinning: If the chamomile seedlings are closely spaced, thin them to ensure proper air circulation and adequate space for growth. Maintain a distance of 6-8 inches between the plants to allow for healthy development.

  • Mulching: Applying a thin layer of organic mulch around the chamomile plants can help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and protect the roots from temperature fluctuations.

  • Fertilization: Chamomile generally does not require heavy fertilization. A light application of a balanced fertilizer in early spring can support healthy growth. Avoid over-fertilizing, as it can lead to excessive foliage at the expense of flowers.

  • Pest and Disease Management: Chamomile is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. However, occasional checks for aphids, thrips, or powdery mildew can help prevent any potential issues. If needed, treat pests or diseases with organic remedies to avoid chemical residues on the fragrant flowers.

  • Harvesting: Once the chamomile plants have matured and produced flowers, you can start harvesting the blooms for culinary or medicinal use. Gently pluck the flower heads, including some of the stem, on a dry and sunny day. Dry the flowers in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight to preserve their flavor and fragrance.

Learning how to plant chamomile is a rewarding experience that can lead to an abundant harvest of fragrant flowers with various uses. Whether you choose to grow German chamomile or Roman chamomile, providing the right growing conditions, proper care, and attention will result in healthy, flourishing plants.

By selecting a sunny location, preparing well-drained soil, choosing high-quality seeds, and providing adequate care to the chamomile seedlings, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of chamomile in your garden or indoor containers. With its calming aroma and numerous health benefits, chamomile is a valuable addition to any herb garden.

Transplanting Chamomile

Chamomile is a beautiful and versatile plant that is popular for its fragrant flowers and soothing herbal properties. Whether you want to grow chamomile for its medicinal benefits or to add a touch of beauty to your garden, knowing how to plant and care for this delicate herb is essential.

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Transplanting chamomile is a straightforward process that can be done in various ways, including by seed or by purchasing seedlings. Here are the steps to transplant chamomile effectively:

  1. Choose the right location: Chamomile prefers full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. It’s essential to select an area in your garden that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.

  2. Prepare the soil: Chamomile thrives in well-draining soil with a pH level between 5.6 and 7.5. Test your soil’s pH level and make any necessary adjustments before planting. Incorporate organic matter such as compost or aged manure into the soil to improve its fertility and texture.

  3. Sow chamomile seeds or plant seedlings: If you choose to start chamomile from seeds, sow them directly into the soil after the last frost in early spring or late summer for fall blooms. Ensure the seeds are placed just below the soil surface and are lightly covered with soil. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seedlings emerge, which usually takes around 7 to 14 days.

Alternatively, you can purchase chamomile seedlings from a nursery. Gently remove the seedlings from their containers and make sure the roots are intact. Dig a hole in the prepared soil that is slightly larger than the root ball and place the seedling into the hole, covering the roots with soil.

  1. Space the plants: Chamomile plants should be spaced approximately 12 inches apart to allow for proper air circulation and growth. If you plan to grow chamomile for tea or medicinal purposes, make sure to provide sufficient room for a bountiful harvest.

  2. Water thoroughly: After transplanting, water the chamomile plants thoroughly to help them settle into their new environment. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not overly saturated, throughout the growing season.

Optimal Watering Techniques For Chamomile

Watering plays a crucial role in the health and growth of chamomile plants. Here are some essential watering techniques to keep your chamomile happy and thriving:

  1. Watering frequency: Chamomile plants prefer moist soil but can suffer from root rot if overwatered. It’s crucial to find the right balance. Water the plants deeply once or twice a week, ensuring the soil is adequately saturated. Use your finger to check the moisture level in the top few inches of the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

  2. Watering method: To prevent waterlogging and potential root rot, it’s best to water chamomile plants at ground level rather than from above. Using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system is ideal for delivering water directly to the root zone without wetting the flowers and foliage.

  3. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the chamomile plants can help retain soil moisture and reduce water evaporation. It also acts as insulation, keeping the soil cooler during hot summer days.

  4. Watering during dry spells: During extended periods of dry weather, it’s essential to monitor the soil moisture levels closely and provide additional water if needed. Chamomile plants may require more frequent watering in hot, arid climates.

  5. Avoiding overhead watering: Chamomile flowers are delicate and prone to mold and mildew if they remain damp. To prevent these issues, avoid overhead watering and try to water the plants at the base, keeping the foliage as dry as possible.

Fertilizing Chamomile

Chamomile plants can benefit from regular fertilization to maintain their health and promote vigorous growth. Here are some tips for fertilizing chamomile effectively:

  1. Soil testing: Before applying any fertilizer, it’s advisable to conduct a soil test to determine the nutrient levels and pH of your soil. This will help you identify any deficiencies or imbalances that need to be addressed.

  2. Organic fertilizers: Chamomile responds well to organic fertilizers, such as compost, aged manure, and worm castings. These natural fertilizers enhance soil fertility, improve its structure, and provide a slow release of nutrients over time. Apply these fertilizers by spreading a 1-2 inch layer around the base of the plants, being careful not to come into direct contact with the stems.

  3. Liquid fertilizers: If you prefer using liquid fertilizers, opt for organic options like fish emulsion or seaweed extract. Dilute the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply it to chamomile plants every two to four weeks during the growing season.

  4. Compost tea: Another excellent option for fertilizing chamomile is to use compost tea. Compost tea can be made by steeping compost in water for several days, creating a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer. Apply the compost tea to the chamomile plants every two weeks, either by pouring it directly onto the soil or spraying it on the foliage.

  5. Avoid excessive fertilization: While chamomile plants benefit from regular fertilization, it’s important not to overdo it. Excessive fertilization can lead to excessive vegetative growth, reduced flowering, or even burn the plants’ roots. Always follow the recommended dosage and avoid applying fertilizer within a few weeks of harvest.

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Common Pests And Diseases Of Chamomile

Despite its many benefits, chamomile plants can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases that can affect their overall health and productivity. Here are some common issues you may encounter and how to deal with them:

  1. Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects can cluster on the leaves and buds of chamomile plants, sucking out their sap and causing deformities. To control aphids, you can spray the plants with a mixture of water and insecticidal soap or use a strong jet of water to dislodge them. If the infestation is severe, consider using natural predators like ladybugs or lacewings.

  2. Spider mites: Spider mites are tiny pests that can cause yellowing and stippling of the chamomile leaves. They are often more problematic in hot and dry conditions. Regularly misting the plants with water can help prevent spider mite infestations. If the infestation persists, you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil spray to control them.

  3. Powdery mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that can affect the leaves and buds of chamomile plants, causing a white, powdery appearance. To prevent powdery mildew, avoid overhead watering and ensure good air circulation around the plants. If necessary, treat the plants with a fungicidal spray specifically designed for powdery mildew.

  4. Root rot: Overwatering or poorly drained soil can lead to root rot, causing the roots to become mushy and discolored. To prevent root rot, ensure the soil has good drainage and only water when the top few inches feel dry. If root rot occurs, it may be challenging to save the plant, and it is best to remove and dispose of affected plants to prevent the spread of the disease.

  5. Slugs and snails: These slimy creatures can quickly munch on chamomile leaves, causing significant damage. To deter slugs and snails, you can create barriers around the plants using copper tape or diatomaceous earth. Additionally, removing garden debris and keeping the area around the chamomile plants clean can reduce their hiding spots.

Growing chamomile can be a rewarding and aromatic experience. By following the proper techniques for transplanting, watering, fertilizing, and dealing with pests and diseases, you can ensure healthy and vibrant chamomile plants in your garden. Remember to choose the right location, provide adequate sunlight, maintain proper watering techniques, and address any issues promptly. With care and attention, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of chamomile throughout the growing season, whether you use it for tea, medicinal purposes, or simply to add a touch of charm to your garden.

Harvesting Chamomile

Chamomile is a versatile and aromatic herb that is easy to grow in most gardens. With its delicate white flowers and soothing fragrance, chamomile has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties and as a calming tea.

Harvesting chamomile is a straightforward process that requires attention to detail and proper timing. The flowers are the most valuable part of the plant and should be harvested when they are at their peak.

  1. Identify the right time for harvesting: Chamomile flowers should be harvested when they are fully open and the petals are still white. They should be plump and fragrant. Avoid harvesting them when they are wilted or turning brown, as this indicates that they are past their prime.

  2. Gather the flowers: Use sharp scissors or pruning shears to cut the flowers from the stem. It is important to handle the flowers gently to avoid damaging them. Place the harvested flowers in a basket or a clean container.

  3. Remove any debris: Before proceeding to dry the flowers, carefully remove any insects, dirt, or other debris. You can gently shake the flowers or use a soft brush to clean them. It is crucial to ensure that the flowers are free from any contaminants that may affect their quality.

Drying And Storing Chamomile

Proper drying and storage are essential to preserve the flavor and potency of chamomile. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Air drying: The most common method of drying chamomile is air drying. Spread the harvested flowers in a single layer on a clean, dry surface such as a drying rack or a clean towel. Place them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Allow the flowers to dry for about one to two weeks until they are completely dry and brittle.

  2. Oven drying: If you need to expedite the drying process, you can use an oven. Preheat your oven to the lowest possible temperature (usually around 180°F or 80°C). Place the chamomile flowers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Keep the oven door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. Check the flowers frequently to prevent them from burning. Once they are dry and brittle, remove them from the oven.

  3. Storing dried chamomile: Once the flowers are completely dry, remove any remaining stems, leaves, or debris. Store the dried chamomile in airtight containers such as glass jars, metal tins, or resealable bags. Make sure to label the containers with the date of harvest to keep track of their freshness. Store the containers in a cool, dark place away from moisture and sunlight. Properly stored chamomile can remain potent for up to one year.

Creative Uses For Chamomile In The Garden

Chamomile not only has numerous medicinal benefits, but it can also be used creatively in your garden. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Companion planting: Chamomile is a fantastic companion plant for many vegetable and herb varieties. Its strong scent helps deter pests such as aphids, flies, and beetles. Plant chamomile near vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and onions to keep pests at bay and enhance their growth.

  2. Chamomile tea garden: Create a dedicated chamomile tea garden by planting a large patch of chamomile plants. This will ensure you have a steady supply of fresh chamomile flowers for tea throughout the growing season. The plants will also attract beneficial insects and butterflies to your garden.

  3. Ground cover: Chamomile can be used as a ground cover in areas with poor soil or where other plants struggle to grow. Its low-growing habit and deep green foliage provide an attractive carpet of green. Additionally, chamomile’s pleasant fragrance can be enjoyed when walking over the plant.

  4. Potpourri and herbal blends: Dry chamomile flowers can be used in potpourri or herbal blends. Combine dried chamomile flowers with other aromatic herbs like lavender, rosemary, and mint to create delightful scents for your home. You can place these mixtures in sachets or decorative bowls for a fragrant touch.

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Tips For Success With Growing Chamomile

To ensure successful growth and ample harvests of chamomile, consider these useful tips:

  1. Select the right variety: Chamomile comes in two main varieties, German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). German chamomile is an annual, while Roman chamomile is a perennial. Choose the variety that suits your garden’s needs and climate conditions.

  2. Sun and soil requirements: Chamomile thrives in full sun, receiving at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. It prefers well-draining soil with a pH range of 5.6 to 7.5. Amend the soil with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility and drainage.

  3. Planting chamomile seeds: Sow chamomile seeds directly in the garden after the last frost has passed. Scatter the seeds lightly over the prepared soil, then gently press them into the ground. Ensure the seeds remain moist until germination, which usually takes around two weeks. Space the seedlings about 8 to 12 inches apart to provide sufficient air circulation.

  4. Watering and mulching: Chamomile plants have moderate water needs. Water the plants deeply but infrequently to encourage the growth of deep roots. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. Adding a layer of organic mulch around the plants will help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and maintain a stable soil temperature.

  5. Regular harvests: Regularly harvesting chamomile flowers promotes continuous blooming and encourages the plant to produce more flowers. Harvest the flowers in the morning when the dew has dried but before the heat of the day. This will ensure maximum fragrance and flavor.

  6. Pruning and deadheading: To keep chamomile plants tidy and encourage bushier growth, lightly prune them after each harvest. Snip off any dead or fading flowers to redirect the plant’s energy towards new flower production.

  7. Pest and disease management: Chamomile is generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, keep an eye out for aphids, spider mites, and powdery mildew. Regularly inspect the plants for any signs of infestation or disease. In case of an infestation, treat the plants with organic insecticidal soap or neem oil to control the pests.

  8. Overwintering perennial chamomile: If you are growing Roman chamomile, it is a perennial that can survive winter. Before the first frost, cut back the foliage to about an inch above the ground. Cover the plant with a thick layer of organic mulch to protect it from freezing temperatures. In spring, remove the mulch and allow the plant to regrow.

Conclusion

Growing chamomile can be a rewarding experience, whether you plant it for its aesthetic appeal, culinary uses, or medicinal properties. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully plant, harvest, dry, and store chamomile. Don’t forget to explore creative ways to incorporate chamomile in your garden and keep in mind the tips for success to ensure a bountiful harvest. So go ahead and make chamomile a valuable addition to your garden and daily life.

FAQS

What Soil Is Best For Planting Chamomile?

Chamomile prefers well-draining, sandy soil that is slightly acidic with a pH range of 5.6 to 7.5. To improve your soil’s drainage and texture, mix in some organic matter like compost or aged manure before planting.

Can Chamomile Be Grown From Seeds Or Should It Be Propagated From Cuttings?

Chamomile can be grown from seeds or propagated from cuttings. It is recommended to sow chamomile seeds in early spring or fall, directly into the prepared soil, whereas propagating from cuttings is best done in early summer.

How Much Water Does Chamomile Need?

Chamomile needs to be kept consistently moist but not overwatered. One inch of water per week is enough for most chamomile plants. In hotter, drier climates, it may require additional watering.

How Much Sunlight Does Chamomile Require?

Chamomile plants need plenty of sunlight to thrive. Ideally, they should receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. However, they can tolerate partial shade in hotter climates.

When Is The Best Time To Harvest Chamomile?

The best time to harvest chamomile is when the flowers are fully open but before they start to wilt. It’s usually in mid to late summer, depending on your planting time. Cut the flowers and immediately dry them in a cool, dark place with good air circulation.