Chamomile in Iowa
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: No Name Given
Posted on: October 23, 2005

I am working on a project that involves growing chamomile for some tea. I have grown chamomile, but not for years and years. I want to make sure I am accurate in the preparations. How long would it take from planting until we could snip the blossoms for tea? We are planning on planting the seeds outside in late spring (in Iowa.) How long for germination? Outside of keeping the soil moist, is there any other specific care I need to be aware of?

There are several varieties of chamomile, but the one you likely want is what is called german chamomile (Matricaria recutita). There is some useful information on our website in the ProGrowers Info section:

http://www.richters.com/progrow.cgi?search=Chamomile

You will find such data as sowing rates, field spacing, yield, etc. The Richters Herb Growing Infobase section of the website has days to germinate, seeds per gram, exposure, etc.:

http://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=./InfoSheets/webbase.html

German chamomile germinates in 5-11 days depending on the depth of planting and other factors. You should not sow too deeply because chamomile benefits from light exposure. At most, they should be tamped down about 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) but not buried. The seed is fine like dust so you need to take care to sow evenly over the seedbed. You may wish to mix the seeds with fine sand to make it easier to keep the sowing density even.

For commercial production, the biggest challenge is cost-effective harvesting. There are no standard implements for the mechanical harvesting of flowers, although some growers have successfully developed custom equipment.

If sown in May, you should have a harvest by July or August.

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