Cultivating Calm: How to Grow Chamomile at Home

Hey there, fellow garden enthusiasts and chamomile lovers!

Are you ready to embark on a delightful journey into the world of growing chamomile?

Look no further!

In this guide, we’ll be sharing everything you need to know about how to grow chamomile, whether it’s for that perfect cup of soothing tea or simply to add a touch of calming beauty to your garden.

No matter your level of gardening expertise, we’ve got the tips and tricks to transform you into a chamomile-growing guru.

So, grab your gardening gloves and let’s dive into the relaxing world of cultivating chamomile!

Types of Chamomile

When it comes to growing chamomile, there are two main types you should know: German chamomile and Roman chamomile.

german vs roman chamomile

Each of these varieties has its unique characteristics and growing requirements.

In this section, you’ll learn about the differences between them and how to grow them successfully.

German Chamomile

German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is an annual plant that grows on tall stems and produces small, abundant flowers during the summer.

It is the most commonly used type for harvesting purposes, especially for making tea.

To grow German chamomile:

  1. Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date by sowing them 1/4-inch deep in seed-starting soil.
  2. Keep the soil moist and warm, around 70℉, and be patient as it takes 14-21 days to germinate.
  3. Once seedlings are 1 to 2 inches tall, thin them out and allow for 6 to 8 inches of space between plants.
  4. German chamomile prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.

Roman Chamomile

Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is a perennial plant distinguished by its apple-scented, low-growing habit, making it ideal for use as a groundcover.

To grow Roman chamomile:

  1. Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep, and allow for 18 inches of space between plants.
  2. Roman chamomile can be started from seeds, cuttings, or by dividing established plants.
  3. This variety of chamomile thrives in well-drained soil, and it prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

Both German and Roman chamomile are versatile plants that can make a lovely addition to your garden or herbal tea collection.

By understanding their distinct characteristics and following the guidelines above, you can successfully grow and enjoy the benefits of these charming herbs in your own garden.

Planting Chamomile

Choosing the Right Location

When deciding where to plant chamomile in your garden, pick a location with full sun exposure and well-drained soil.

Both Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) thrive in these conditions.

Chamomile can grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 9, making it suitable for various climates across Europe and North America.

Keep in mind that chamomile can be grown in gardens, vegetable plots, or outdoor containers.

Preparing the Soil

Before planting, ensure the soil meets the optimal conditions for chamomile growth.

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The ideal soil type for chamomile is sandy or loamy, with a pH between 5.6 and 7.5.

It is essential to provide good drainage and avoid overly fertile or soggy soil as it may hinder chamomile growth.

Consider adding compost or other organic materials to the soil to improve drainage and maintain adequate moisture levels.

Propagating from Seeds

To grow chamomile from seeds, follow these steps:

  1. Start seeds indoors about six weeks before the last expected frost. Chamomile seeds require light to germinate, so scatter them onto the soil surface and press them firmly but do not cover them with soil.
  2. Keep the soil moist and maintain a temperature around 70℉ (21℃).
  3. Be patient, as chamomile seeds may take between 14 and 21 days to germinate.

Transplanting Seedlings

Once your seedlings have grown 1 to 2 inches tall and the danger of frost has passed, usually late spring, it’s time to transplant chamomile seedlings to your prepared outdoor location:

  1. Thin the chamomile seedlings and space them properly. Allow 6 to 8 inches between German chamomile plants and 18 inches between Roman chamomile plants.
  2. Transplant the seedlings carefully to their new location, ensuring not to damage the root system.
  3. Water the transplanted chamomile regularly, but avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.

By providing the right location, preparing the soil, starting with seeds, and transplanting seedlings, you can successfully grow chamomile in your garden.

Chamomile Care

Watering Requirements

Young chamomile plants require even, consistent watering, about 1″ per week.

As they mature, they become more drought-tolerant, but it’s essential to maintain adequate moisture, especially during the summer months.

In warmer climates with temperatures regularly above 85°F, provide shade during the hottest hours to help your chamomile plants stay healthy.

For potted chamomile plants, monitor the soil moisture and water as needed.

Fertilizing

Chamomile is not a heavy feeder, meaning it typically doesn’t require much fertilization.

However, to promote optimal growth, you can apply a slow-release, balanced fertilizer at the beginning of the planting season.

Be cautious, as overly rich soil can inhibit flower production.

Pruning and Maintenance

Regular pruning encourages a fuller, bushier plant with more flowers.

Remove dead, yellowing, or damaged leaves and stems throughout the growing season.

After flowering, trim back the plant to its main shape to encourage a healthier, tidier appearance.

Companion Planting

Chamomile is a fantastic companion plant, attracting beneficial insects with its white flowers and emitting a fragrance that can repel some pests.

When considering companion planting, good options include:

  • Herbs: Mint, basil, dill, and cilantro benefit from being near chamomile plants and can help improve flavor.
  • Vegetables: Cabbage, onions, and kale can benefit from chamomile’s natural pest-repellent properties.
  • Flowers: Marigolds and nasturtiums are visually appealing and can attract pollinators.

When caring for your chamomile plants, ensure they receive the appropriate amount of sun exposure.

For optimal growth, chamomile prefers to have 6-8 hours of full sun per day. If growing chamomile indoors, provide bright indirect light, and consider supplemental lighting if necessary.

Remember, chamomile is adaptable and can grow in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.

In the right conditions and with proper care, you can enjoy beautiful white flowers from this versatile, drought-tolerant plant.

Pests and Diseases

Common Pests

When growing chamomile, you may encounter some common pests that can affect the health of your plants. These include:

  • Aphids: Small sap-sucking insects that can cause foliage to curl and stunt growth. To control aphids, try using a strong stream of water to wash them off the plants or introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs that feed on them.
  • Thrips: Tiny insects that can cause distorted and discolored leaves. Use sticky traps to monitor their presence in your garden and consider introducing beneficial insects like predatory mites to help control thrips populations.
  • Mealybugs: Soft-bodied insects that produce a powdery wax substance on leaves and stems. Harvest to Table recommends washing them off your chamomile plants with a strong stream of water, or use insecticidal soap to help control their population.
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Common Diseases

Chamomile plants are also susceptible to a couple of common diseases, generally caused by excess moisture. These include:

  • Powdery Mildew: A fungal disease that appears as a white, powdery growth on leaves and stems. To prevent powdery mildew, keep chamomile plants well-spaced to allow proper air circulation, and avoid overhead watering. If you notice mildew on your plants, you can treat it with a fungicide.
  • Botrytis: Also known as gray mold, this fungal disease can cause spots on leaves, and eventually rot. To prevent botrytis, make sure you water your chamomile plants at the base to prevent excess moisture from sitting on the foliage and flowers. Maintain good air circulation by thinning out dense plantings.

By keeping your chamomile plants healthy and well-maintained, and being proactive in terms of pest and disease control, you can ensure a thriving and bountiful harvest.

Harvesting and Uses

Harvesting Flowers

To harvest chamomile flowers for tea, gather them when they are fully open.

Pull off the flowers with one hand while holding the stem just underneath the flower with the other.

Leaving the stems on the plant will encourage new buds to form. When making tea, the flowers can be used fresh or dried.

Medicinal Uses

Chamomile is known for its numerous medicinal properties.

The most common use is as a calming tea to help with relaxation and sleep.

It’s also known to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, potentially offering relief for various skin conditions and gastrointestinal ailments.

Other Uses

Chamomile’s pleasant aroma and white petals make it an attractive addition to any garden.

These attributes also attract pollinators, helping improve the overall health and biodiversity of your garden.

Furthermore, chamomile can be grown alongside other fragrant herbs and vegetables, such as:

Remember that chamomile varieties can differ in their growth requirements and medicinal properties.

Germination times, for example, can take between 14 to 21 days, so it’s essential to choose the right variety for your needs and follow appropriate care instructions.

Additional Tips for Success

Growing in Containers

If you’re planning to grow chamomile in containers, choose one that is at least 6 inches deep with ample drainage holes.

Use well-draining, pre-moistened potting soil enriched with fertilizer.

Chamomile is an excellent choice for ground cover in containers, as it’s from the Asteraceae family and produces lovely white flowers.

Growing Indoors

Chamomile can also be grown indoors as long as it receives adequate sunlight.

Place your chamomile plant near a window where it will get at least 6-8 hours of full sun each day.

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Ensure your indoor chamomile plant is in a location with a consistent temperature to avoid stress on the plant.

You may also want to consider using a fish emulsion fertilizer to help with plant growth.

Attracting Pollinators

Chamomile naturally attracts pollinators, which can be beneficial for your garden.

To encourage pollinators, ensure you provide chamomile plants with plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil.

Consider incorporating drought-tolerant companion plants, such as asters, to enhance your garden’s biodiversity.

Remember to keep an eye on your chamomile for self-seeding, as it is an annual that may spread easily.

You can propagate chamomile through seeds or through divisions of established plants.

Overall, chamomile is a versatile, low-maintenance plant suitable for garden beds, containers, and even as an indoor plant.

How to Grow Chamomile FAQs

Does chamomile come back every year?

Great news! German chamomile, which is an annual, will often reseed itself, meaning it can make a surprise comeback each year. On the other hand, Roman chamomile is a perennial, so it’ll return every year like clockwork to grace your garden with its delightful presence. Just keep an eye on those lovely blossoms, and you’ll likely enjoy your chamomile for many seasons to come.

Can you grow chamomile in pots?

Absolutely! Chamomile is a versatile little plant and will happily grow in pots or containers. Just make sure you choose a well-draining pot and fill it with a quality potting mix. Give your potted chamomile plenty of sunlight, and you’ll soon have a charming, fragrant container garden to enjoy.

Should I cut back chamomile for winter?

Trimming your chamomile for winter is an excellent idea, especially for Roman chamomile, the perennial variety. Give it a good haircut by cutting it back to about an inch or two above the ground after the first frost. This little trim will help keep the plant healthy and encourage more vigorous growth when spring rolls around.

Can chamomile be grown as a houseplant?

Why, of course! Chamomile can make a delightful houseplant, bringing a touch of tranquility to your indoor space. Just make sure to provide it with plenty of sunlight (a sunny windowsill is perfect) and a well-draining potting mix. Keep an eye on the moisture levels, and you’ll have a beautiful, calming indoor chamomile companion.

Can you grow chamomile from tea bags?

While it might be tempting to try, growing chamomile from tea bags isn’t the most reliable method since the seeds may not be viable or of the best quality. For the best results, it’s a good idea to purchase chamomile seeds or seedlings from a reputable source. But hey, if you’re feeling adventurous and have some tea bags lying around, you can always give it a shot – you never know what might sprout up!

And there you have it, chamomile champions!

With this newfound knowledge and our expert tips, you’re now ready to cultivate your very own chamomile haven.

Imagine sipping on a comforting cup of homegrown chamomile tea or simply basking in the serene beauty of your garden, surrounded by the gentle fragrance of your chamomile blossoms.

Don’t forget to share your chamomile-growing journey with your friends and loved ones – who knows, you might even inspire them to join you in creating a more tranquil, chamomile-infused world.

Together, let’s bring a touch of soothing calm to our gardens and lives, one beautiful chamomile flower at a time. Happy growing!