How to Grow German Chamomile Seeds

Grow Guide #2401
Family: Asteraceae
Binomial name: Matricaria recutita
Life Cycle: Annual

This 'How to Grow' guide details everything a home gardener needs to know to plant, grow and care for German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita).

When to Sow German Chamomile Seeds

German Chamomile can be grown year-round in most climates. Avoid planting in extremely hot or cold weather which can affect germination and growth. Use the table below to identify the best time of year to sow German chamomile in your climate.

  JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Cool
Temperate
Sub-Tropical
Tropical
Arid

Preparation

German Chamomile plants are best grown in full sun. Choose a location that will receive at least 6 hours of full sun each day.

German Chamomile plants commonly self-seed in the garden. Self-seeding plants drop seeds onto the soil at the end of the season that may germinate and grow without help the following season. Choose a position where new plants will be welcome. If you do not want German chamomile to become established in your garden, deadhead plants before they can drop seed or grow them in containers.

German Chamomile plants need a well drained soil enriched with plenty of organic matter. Prepare soil by weeding it thoroughly, digging it over to loosen it and adding aged animal manure or compost. Keep the area free of weeds until planting. Learn more about preparing soil for planting here.

German Chamomile plants can be grown in containers. If possible choose a variety that’s recommended for container growing. Use a good quality potting mix and make sure your container is large enough for mature plants; a minimum of 10 litres is recommended for German chamomile. During the growing season, keep in mind that container grown plants may need additional fertiliser to encourage healthy growth.

How to Sow German Chamomile Seeds

German Chamomile seeds do not require any treatment (eg soaking, stratification) before sowing.

German Chamomile seeds can be sown directly into the garden OR seedlings can be raised in trays or other containers and transplanted to the garden once established.

Sow Direct

  1. Sow seeds directly in the garden 1mm deep and 20-30cm apart.
  2. Keep soil moist but never wet or dry.
  3. Seeds should germinate in around 7-14 days at a soil temperature of 20-30°C.
  4. Young seedlings will need protection from pests, pets and weather until they are established.

Raise Seedlings

  1. Fill trays, punnets or jiffy pots with a good quality seed-raising mix, or use soil starter pellets.
  2. Sow seeds 1mm deep.
  3. Keep soil moist but never wet or dry.
  4. Seeds should germinate in around 7-14 days at a soil temperature of 20-30°C.
  5. Transplant seedlings to the garden once they have their first true leaves and are large enough to handle (usually 5-10cm tall).
  6. Plant out, spacing plants 20-30cm apart.

Tip: German Chamomile seeds can also be sown in the less formal ‘scatter seed’ method. Simply roughen the soil, scatter seeds evenly over the surface, then smooth the soil over lightly to cover the seeds.

Tip: German Chamomile seeds are quite small. Handle them carefully to avoid them blowing away or being washed away. Mix seeds with sand or fine potting mix prior to sowing or use a seed dispenser, damp toothpick or tweezers to help space them evenly. Press lightly into the surface after sowing so that the seeds make good contact with the soil. Take extra care to make sure seeds and seedlings don’t dry out. Read more about sowing small seeds here.

How to Grow German Chamomile

German Chamomile plants may need watering during the growing season. Water when the soil is dry about 5cm below the surface (test this by scratching away a little soil with your finger). Water deeply in the early morning or late afternoon. Avoid watering the leaves of plants to avoid fungal diseases. Learn more about watering here.

If soil was well prepared no extra fertiliser should be necessary. In poor soil or to give your plants an extra boost, application of a high-potassium fertiliser or one formulated for flowering plants can be beneficial:

  • Apply slow release fertiliser at the recommended rate when transplanting or when seedlings are 5-10cm tall.
  • Apply liquid fertiliser at the recommended rate and frequency while plants are fruiting or flowering.

German Chamomile plants should flower in approximately 65 days.

Flowers are ready to harvest when they are fully open. Harvest flowers by pinching the stem just below the flower head to remove the flower with no stem attached. Flowers can be used fresh or dried. To dry flowers, spread them in a single layer on a wire rack or paper towels and leave them in a dry, warm area out of direct sunlight for one to two weeks. Store dried flowers in a sealed glass jar for up to six months.

Deadhead German chamomile flowers regularly during the growing season. Using sharp secateurs or snips cut fading or dead flowers off just above a set of leaves. Removing old flowers regularly will encourage plants to produce more flowers. Learn more about deadheading flowering plants here.

Common Problems when Growing German Chamomile

Like all plants, German chamomile is susceptible to some pests, diseases and other problems. Below is a list of the most common problems gardeners encounter when growing German chamomile plants:

  • Aphids
    Aphids are small (2-4mm long) sap-sucking insects that congregate on the new shoots or the undersides of leaves. They can cause leaves to wilt or become discoloured, and also excrete honeydew which can attract ants and other insect pests. To manage aphids, remove them by spraying with a garden hose, apply a soap or alcohol spray, or encourage predatory insects to your garden. Read more about aphids here.
  • Powdery Mildew
    Powdery mildew is caused by fungal spores reproducing on the leaves of plants. First showing as white spots on leaves, affected areas can spread quickly to cover the entire leaf surface. While rarely fatal, powdery mildew can reduce yields. Water plants at soil level (not on leaves) to prevent spreading spores, allow good air flow between plants, remove affected leaves and if necessary spray with an appropriate fungicide or homemade spray. Read more here about powdery mildew here.
  • thrip on a flower
    Thrips are black, beige or white flying insects (<1.5mm) with larvae that suck tissue from leaves and petals, leaving behind very small white or transparent markings. While not usually causing serious damage, the marks affect the look of flowers and foliage and thrips can also transfer pathogens from one plant to another. Wash thrips from affected plants using a garden hose, encourage predatory mites and lacewings with companion planting, or spray with soap, eco-oil or neem oil.

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