How to Grow Chamomile From Seed: A Comprehensive Guide
Growing your own chamomile offers numerous rewards like having a natural means to calm one’s nerves, improve digestion, and getting a good night’s sleep. In this post, we will guide you step-by-step on how to grow chamomile from seed in the comfort of your home or garden.
Purchasing the Right Seeds
The first step in your journey to grow chamomile from seed is ensuring you buy the right seeds. There are two main types of chamomile: the German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). German chamomile is an annual plant, while Roman Chamomile is a perennial. Both have their unique characteristics, so it’s important to know which is most suited to your needs and environment.
Chamomile seeds can be found in plant nurseries, garden centers, and online. Always remember to buy from reputable suppliers to ensure the seed’s quality. Also, pay attention to the packaging for useful information like the seed’s expiration date, and the preferred growing conditions.
Starting Your Seeds Indoors
For best results, it’s advisable to start your chamomile seeds indoors. Plant them in seed trays or small pots with good quality potting soil. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil then cover lightly with a thin layer of soil. Place the trays or pots in a sunny windowsill, or under grow lights if you have them. Ensure the soil remains moist but not waterlogged.
Generally, chamomile seeds germinate within one to two weeks. It’s hugely satisfying to see the tiny green seedlings emerge. At this stage, it’s important to continue watering them carefully to prevent them from drying out.
Transferring the Seedlings Outdoors
Once the threat of frost is over and the seedlings have grown a few true leaves, it’s time to move your chamomile outdoors. Grow chamomile in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. If your soil is heavy clay or sandy, consider adding compost or organic matter to improve its texture and fertility.
Transplant your seedlings carefully to avoid damaging the roots. Space them about 15-30 cm apart, depending on the variety. Once planted, water the seedlings deeply and then mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.
Caring for Your Chamomile
Chamomile is a fairly low maintenance plant. Water the young plants regularly, but once they have established, they can tolerate some dry spells. Inspect your plants regularly for any pest or disease symptoms. Herbs like chamomile are often less affected by pests because of their strong scent, but it’s still important to stay vigilant for signs of trouble.
During the flowering season, pick the flowers regularly to encourage further blooming. Dry the harvested flowers in a cool, dark place and then store them in airtight jars. Use them for brewing your calming tea, or in potpourri, soaps, lotions, and more.
Harvesting and Storing
The best time to harvest chamomile is during the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun gets too hot. The flowers are ready for harvest when the petals begin to fall back from the cone. To harvest, simply pinch the flower heads off with your fingers.
Chamomile flowers can be dried and stored for later use. To dry them, spread the flowers out in a single layer in a dry, warm, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. Once they are fully dry, store them in an airtight container out of direct sunlight. Properly stored dried chamomile can last up to a year.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I grow chamomile in containers?
Yes, chamomile can be grown in pots or containers. Just make sure the container provides good drainage as chamomile does not like overly wet soil.
2. Can chamomile be grown indoors?
Yes, chamomile can be grown indoors. However, the plants will need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, or grow lights to thrive.
3. When should I plant chamomile seeds?
It is best to plant chamomile seeds around 6 weeks before the last expected frost. If you are unsure of when this is, you can check your local planting guide, or ask a local nursery.