How to grow and harvest chamomile

To look at my garden you wouldn't know that I once had a hard time growing chamomile! I spent two years fighting to grow a few spindly little plants that only produced a few flowers each. It was so sad. Now my garden overflows with it every year. I was simply growing it wrong! I had no idea how to grow chamomile. Actually, I had no idea how to germinate chamomile. 

grow and harvest chamomile

The few plants that started I kept in pots on my patio because I was sure they'd die in the garden. *sigh* They really struggled in those pots. Luckily I figured out the one trick to growing chamomile and now that I figured it out, I don't need it anymore! 

Because once you get a few chamomile plants growing well in your garden...they drop enough seeds every year to come back again, and again and again. You'll never have to plant chamomile again!

The two most popular types of chamomile are Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) and German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). They have somewhat similar properties but I decided to grow German chamomile. German chamomile is a taller annual plant versus the shorter perennial Roman chamomile. 

Normally I would say to plant the Roman variety and you'll never have to plant it again. The way the German chamomile self seeds though, makes that kind of a moot point!

I like to grow chamomile in the vegetable garden since it attracts ladybugs, any aphids that find my garden don't stand a chance!

Growing Chamomile

The main secret to growing chamomile was as easy as this: quit planting the seed. Seriously. Just toss it on the ground. Apparently it needed sunlight to germinate and I was covering it with dirt and depriving it of the main thing it needs. Once I figured this out I just tilled some compost into the ground, raked it smooth and tossed some seed out. 

Give the seed a nice soaking with the watering can and let it go. It germinates like crazy. I had dozens of plants the first year I planted the chamomile seed this way! In fact, chamomile quickly became one of the 9 Herbs That Tried To Take Over My Garden!

Chamomile likes the sun so a mostly sunny area suits it best. I like to thin the plants out a bit leaving about 6" between them. I get so many growing that self seeded the year before that when I thin them out, I give a lot of plants away! Seriously, this stuff will overtake your garden! 

Sadly German chamomile does not do very well in pots, unless they're really big pots since it tends to get top heavy.

growing chamomile

Chamomile flowers have a yellow cone like center set amid delicate white daisy like petals. The flowers start with the petals folded over the center. The petals open outwards and the flowers are ready to be harvested when the petals start to fold back slightly from the center. 

To harvest chamomile, pick the flowers after the morning dew has dried off. I like to harvest them before noon. I simply pinch off the flower heads but you can cut them with scissors. Try to get as little stem as possible.

Once chamomile flowers start blooming, they will keep flowering for several weeks to about 2 months. They tend to die out as the plants dry up when the heat of summer hits. You can probably harvest twice a week while they're flowering and each plant produces lots of little flowers!

I wrote about how to succession plant a flower bed and I often plant chamomile in my lily or tulip beds to get more than one use from the area each year. The chamomile dies out right as the lily's are getting ready to bloom...or the tulips die before the chamomile gets big enough to hide them. 

Drying Chamomile 

To dry chamomile for storage, you can spread it out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and set it in a dry area like the top of the refrigerator. Your chamomile should be dry in a week or two. 

Since chamomile seems to flower a lot at one time, I like to hurry things along by using a dehydrator. I spread the flowers out on the dehydrator sheets and set it as low as possible. After about 2 hours I start checking every hour. 

When a flower head crumbles easily between your fingers, they're done! Store in an airtight jar in a cool dark place. I talk more about proper herb storage in How To Store Dried Herbs.

drying chamomile

I use chamomile mainly for its calming properties and use it often in teas and herbal salves or lotions. It's one of the main ingredients in my herbal sleep tea recipe. I also like to use it to flavor different foods and drinks. 

Meghan over at The Organic Goat Lady has a great recipe for Chamomile Kombucha which is a delicious way to use up some of the chamomile that's bound to take over your garden and pantry! Or use some in a Chamomile and almond cake! (drool!)

Now here's a funny little trick that might work for you: you can grow chamomile plants from a tea bag. Yes, you read that right! Chamomile tea is simply dried chamomile flowers. As long as they're fairly fresh, you should be able to open a tea bag and plant the chamomile inside.

Just follow the sowing instructions above and wait for your chamomile to sprout! Happy growing!


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  1. I saw your link on the Modern Homestead Blog Hop. I grew some chamomile in my garden a few years ago, and just like you said, it keeps coming back on its own. I love easy plants like that!

    1. Me too! Calendula and dill do the same thing! They just reseed themselves randomly...all over the garden!


  2. I never had problems groving chamomile. And I just love chamomile tea :)

  3. Chamomile grew like a weed in my parents' garden! I loved it. I need to get some growing here, and hope it takes over!

    1. Oh don't will take over! lol


  4. I love the smell and taste of chamomile, but your post reminds me that I haven't grown it in several years! I'll have to make sure and add some this year!
    Thanks for linking up at The Pretty Pintastic Party!

  5. Our faqrm is full of chamomile. I had no idea that the seeds weren't supposed to be covered. I love drinking the tea, it really calms me.

    1. I love the tea too. DO you know which chamomile you grow? I've read that the Roman chamomile is more like a ground cover and some people grow it like a lawn!


  6. Interesting fact that it needs sunlight to germinate. Thanks for sharing on the Waste Less Wednesday Blog Hop!

  7. Someone gave me a start at my previous home and I had lots of it growing in my herb garden, but I never made tea out of it. Wish I had given it a try! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  8. I have never grown Chamomile at least not successfully, but maybe I was not giving it enough sunlight. I'll have to retry it again and see what happens. Tweeted & pinned! Congratulations on being featured on HHGN blog hop. Happy Spring!

  9. I started growing chamomile two years ago. You are right, you don't need to plant it after the first year. After that it come up anywhere near it's pot or garden spot. - Margy