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How To Grow Chamomile

Matricaria recutita

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

An erect annual (Matricaria recutita), with small, daisylike flowers, is used to make chamomile tea and posesses a number of medicinal qualities.

German Chamomile seeds are one of the few seeds that need light to germinate, so starting them by seed is a delicate process. It is best planted outdoors in August by broadcasting the seed and mixing very lightly with the soil. Alternatively, they can be started indoors in propagation flats in March and transplanted outdoors after a hardening off period. In most cases, direct planting in the garden after all chance of frost has passed are successful, as well. Once they are firmly established, German Chamomile is extremely hardy.

Chamomile tea can be sprayed on propagation flats to prevent damping off. It is also believed to increase the absorption of calcium when added to a compost pile.

Growing the Herb German Chamomile

Growing Cultures

Outdoors, landscaping, mass plantings. German Chamomile is not recommended for containers.

Plant Height

Chamomile usually grows to a height of 20 to 30 inches (50 - 70cm).

Plant Spacing

Chamomile plants should be spaced 6 inches (15 cm) apart.

Preferred pH Range

Chamomile will grow in a relatively wide pH range between 5.6 (acidic) and 7.5 (neutral).

Propagation

From seed. Direct sow in spring or fall. Fall sown seeds germinate following spring. Seeds need light to germinate.

Seed Germination Period

Chamomile seeds will germinate in soil in approximately 7 to 14 days, but can germinate in as few as 4 or 5 days in dedicated propagation media such as Oasis Rootcubes, Rapid Rooters, or Grodan Stonewool.

Number of Seeds per Gram

There are between approximately 10,000 and 18,000 chamomile seeds per gram, depending on variety.

Soil Requirements

Chamomile will grow in well draining, poor to average soil.

Alternative Growing Media

Soilless potting mixes (Pro-Mix, Sunshine Mix, etc.), perlite, vermiculite, rockwool, coco peat, Oasis Rootcubes.

Time From Seed to Saleable Plant

Seeds to finished plugs in approximately 6 weeks. Plugs to saleable plants in approximately 4 to 6 weeks.

Sun & Lighting Requirements

Chamomile grown outdoors prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade.

Chamomile will grow indoors satisfactorily under standard fluorescent lamps, and exceptionally well under high output T5 fluorescent plant grow light, compact fluorescent, or high intensity discharge (metal halide or high pressure sodium) plant growing lights.

Keep standard fluorescent lamps between 2 and 4 inches from the tops of the plants, high output and compact fluorescents approximately one foot above the plants, and HID lights between 2 and 4 feet above the plants, depending on wattage.

Have an oscillating fan gently stir seedlings for at least 2 hours per day to stimulate a more compact, and sturdier plant habit.

USDA Hardiness

Annual. Not applicable.

Water Requirements

Water regularly, being careful not to overwater. Allow soil to go almost dry between watering, then soak thoroughly.

Potential Plant Pests and Diseases

Chamomile can be susceptible to aphids and mealybug, with minimal disease issues.

Companion Planting

Chamomile is a good companion plant for basil, wheat, onion, cabbage and cucumbers, as well as increasing the essential oil production of many other herbs it is planted near.

Special Notes

Chamomile may be considered a noxious weed or invasive plant in some areas. Chamomile is known to attract bees, butterflies or birds and has fragrant blossoms. Chamomile self-sows freely; remove flowers (deadhead) if you do not want volunteer seedlings the following season.

Buy Chamomile Seeds by Botanical Interests

Heirloom German Chamomile Seeds
Apple-scented flowers for soothing tea, potpourris, and dried flower arrangements.

Organic Heirloom German Chamomile Seeds
What could be more soothing than curling up at bedtime with a good book and a cup of chamomile tea made from flowers fresh from your garden?