How to Plant and Grow Chamomile

There are two main varieties of chamomile, Roman and German (although Moroccan chamomile can sometimes be found). Similar in appearance the Roman and German chamomile are actually from different species. Roman Chamomile only gets four to six inches in height, is perennial, and acts as a ground-cover. Whereas German chamomile is upright, an annual, and can reach two to three feet.

Chamomile Plants

Both forms of chamomile like slightly acidic soil that is well-composted (and drains well). Like most garden plants, chamomile is not fond of standing water.

Planting German Chamomile

As an annual, German chamomile is usually started from seed or purchased in flats. The plants like full sun, but will tolerate some shade. Seeds can be sown directly into the garden, in which case they should be broadcast over the area they are to inhabit or planted in rows. Do not cover the seeds as they need light to germinate.1 Germination takes seven to twelve days.

No need to thin these flowers. Keep the soil damp, but not wet. German Chamomile wilts relatively easily. It should begin to flower in mid-summer. Harvest simply by pulling off the heads of the plants, or use shears.

Planting Roman Chamomile

Once Roman chamomile establishes itself, it is very hardy and comes back year after year. It can be planted in lawns, and makes a beautiful ground-cover. It can even be mowed and has been used in place of grass for lawn at some exclusive venues. Roman chamomile likes partial shade, but can still thrive in full sun. It is tolerant of drought, so requires less water and care than German Chamomile. Another benefit of Roman chamomile is that it can help revive nearby sickly plants.

Most seed companies recommend that Roman chamomile seeds be broadcast over an area of moist soil and lightly tamped down. Seeds take 10 to 14 days to germinate at temps greater than 60° Fahrenheit (16° Celsius). Weed the area where seeds are planted and keep soil moist until plants are established. The chamomile should become thick enough that eventually weeds will be inhibited.

This variety of chamomile can be planted from seed, but the most popular form of propagation is from cuttings or dividing. The best time to divide is early spring before the plants have begun their growth spurts. Simply use a sharp spade and dig up a clump of the plant. Separate by jiggling plants apart, being careful to preserve as much of the roots as possible. Replant where desired, preferably in loose, rich soil. Plant divisions so that all of the roots and about 1/2-inch (1 1/2 cm) of the stem are under ground. Keep the ground moist until plant has re-established.2

To propagate by cuttings, snip a healthy segment of Roman Chamomile, usually three to four inches from the tip. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem. Using a root hormone is not necessary, but it will increase the success rate of cuttings. Dip the tip in rotenone (root hormone) and place in pot containing fresh potting soil. Keep soil moist. The cuttings may be kept covered with clear plastic to help retain moisture. The plants should take about three weeks to develop roots. When the cuttings become established, plant in the ground, including the potting soil and root ball.

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  1. Growing German Chamomile
  2. Propagation of Herbs by Division

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