HomeGrowing TipsChamomile Seeds - How to Harvest and Save Seeds from Your Flowers

Chamomile Seeds – How to Harvest and Save Seeds from Your Flowers

Chamomile is a delightful flower that many gardeners like to grow for its apple-like scent, medicinal properties, and pretty white petals with bright yellow centers. While chamomile is often planted each year from nursery starts, you can also easily grow chamomile from seeds.

Can You Grow Chamomile from Seed?

Yes, absolutely! Growing chamomile from seeds is an easy and rewarding way to fill your garden with this cheery flower. Chamomile seeds can be directly sown in the garden or started indoors. Here’s what you need to know about planting chamomile seeds:

When to Plant – Chamomile seeds can be planted in either spring or fall. Spring planting should be done after the last frost date in your area. Fall planting can be done about 8-10 weeks before your first expected frost.

Where to Plant – Chamomile needs full sun to grow well. Choose a spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. The soil should be well-draining but moist. Amend clay soils with compost or peat moss to improve drainage.

How to Plant – Chamomile seeds are very tiny, so take care when handling them. Gently press seeds into loose soil, about 1/4 inch deep. Space seeds 4-6 inches apart. Keep soil moist until seedlings emerge, which takes 7-14 days.

Caring for Seedlings – Water seedlings regularly to keep the soil slightly moist. Thin seedlings to 8-12 inches apart when they have 2-4 sets of true leaves. Fertilize lightly with a balanced fertilizer once a month.

When Flowers Bloom – Chamomile starts from seed will produce flowers about 8-12 weeks after germination. The flowers open completely and then fade, forming hollow cones. This is when the seeds are ready for harvesting.

What are Chamomile Seeds Used For?

Chamomile seeds contain the same medicinal compounds and essential oils as the flowers and leaves. They can be used to make soothing tea or incorporated into skin care products like lotions. The whole matricaria recutita plant is used for:

Calming Tea – The most common use of chamomile seeds is to make tea. Steep 1-2 teaspoons of dried seeds or flowers in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Chamomile tea has anti-anxiety and sleep-promoting properties.

Skin Soothing – Chamomile seeds and flowers contain azulene and bisabolol which are anti-inflammatory. Chamomile is used in lotions, creams, bath products, and skincare preparations. It soothes irritated skin conditions like eczema, rashes, and sunburn.

Digestive Aid – Chamomile has antispasmodic effects which help ease digestive issues like upset stomach, gas, and colic in children. Drinking chamomile tea can relax stomach muscles.

Anti-Bacterial – Oils in chamomile seeds have mild anti-bacterial properties. Chamomile tea or diluted oils can be used as a mouthwash or to treat minor cuts and scrapes as an antimicrobial.

Mild Sedative – Chamomile contains apigenin that binds to certain receptors in the brain that initiate sleepiness. So drinking chamomile tea can help you relax and fall asleep more easily.

What is the Indian Name for the Chamomile Flower?

In India, chamomile goes by a few common names. These include:

  • Baboona – This is the most widely used Hindi name for chamomile flowers. It refers to German chamomile (Matricaria recutita).
  • Babuni ke Phool – This translates to “chamomile flowers” in Hindi.
  • Satokhara – This is the Sanskrit name for chamomile meaning ‘hundred alleviations’ referring to its many healing properties.
  • Lal chamomile – Refers to ‘red chamomile’, the plant Anthemis nobilis. This has similar properties as German chamomile but has red-tinted flowers.
  • Bode codu – In Kannada language, chamomile flowers are called bode codu.

So baboona or babuni is the most common Hindi term used in India when referring to the dried flowers and seeds used to make chamomile tea. Chamomile tea is a popular herbal infusion in Ayurvedic medicine in India due to its soothing and relaxing effects. The flowers and seeds are renowned for their anti-inflammatory, mild sedative, and health-promoting properties.

What are Chamomile Seeds?

Chamomile seeds are the small dry fruits that form once the chamomile flowers finish blooming. Each tiny chamomile blossom can produce dozens of even smaller seeds. The seeds are cone or spindle-shaped, about 1-2mm long, and yellowish brown in color.

There are a few different species of chamomile but German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) are the most popular variants grown in herb gardens for their flowers and seeds. German chamomile is an annual while Roman chamomile is a perennial.

Chamomile seeds contain the same therapeutic compounds as the flowers including flavonoids like apigenin, coumarin, and essential blue oils like azulene and bisabolol. So chamomile seeds can be used dried, ground into powder, or infused in oil to make soothing teas, skin salves, tinctures, extracts, and many other medicinal preparations much like fresh flowers.

The seeds are harvested once the flower heads are completely dry and the cone-shaped receptacles holding the seeds open up. At this stage, the tiny seeds are loose and easy to collect. Below we’ll explore exactly how to harvest and save chamomile seeds from your garden each season.

Green chamomile sprouts growing from seeds
Green chamomile sprouts growing from seeds

How to Harvest Chamomile Seeds

If you grow chamomile in your garden, collecting the seeds is a frugal way to replenish your supply each year. Here are the steps for harvesting chamomile seeds:

Step 1: Identify Mature Flowers

Check your chamomile plants daily once the flowers start blooming. Mature flowers that are ready for seed harvesting will have completed their full blooming cycle. The petals will fade and fall off, leaving behind a hollow dry cone containing the seeds. The seeds are viable once the cones feel papery and crunchy.

Step 2: Cut Flower Stems

Use garden pruners or scissors to snip off flower heads that are clearly dry and brown. Cut the entire stem a few inches below the spent flower. Collect these in a paper bag or bucket. Harvest in the morning after any dew has dried for best results.

Step 3: Dry Flowers Further

Lay the cut flower stems in a single layer on mesh racks or muslin cloths indoors. Let them dry for 1-2 weeks out of direct sunlight until crispy and brittle. Drying releases the seeds from the seed cones.

Step 4: Separate Seeds

To remove the seeds, you can gently rub two dried flower heads together in a bowl. The seeds will release and fall out from the center. Alternatively, crumble the flowers by hand, scrapping off the seeds into the bowl using your fingers or a brush.

Step 5: Clean and Dry Seeds

To clean the seeds, pour them from the bowl onto a mesh sieve and sift. Some debris like flower petals may be mixed in, so this removes any non-seed particles. Let the chamomile seeds dry for 1-2 more days on paper towels before transferring to storage.

Step 6: Store in Airtight Containers

Finally, place your harvested chamomile seeds in a clearly labeled, airtight glass jar or ziplock bag. Store them in a cool, dark place away from heat, light, and moisture. Chamomile seeds will remain viable for 2-3 years if stored properly.

Tips for Saving Chamomile Seeds

Follow these handy tips for successfully harvesting and storing your chamomile seeds:

  • Start with organic chamomile flowers if possible since these are not treated with chemicals. Or rinse flowers from conventionally grown plants before drying.
  • Only save seeds from your healthiest, most prolific chamomile plants to encourage vigorous future plants.
  • Check flowers daily once blooming slows as seeds mature quickly. Harvest promptly when cones are fully dry.
  • Cut flower stems on a dry morning to prevent mold growth. Allow cut stems to further dry indoors if needed.
  • Dry seeds thoroughly before storage to maintain viability. Discard any soft, discolored seeds that did not mature correctly.
  • Date your seed packets so you know when they were harvested. Use fresh seeds in the following 1-3 growing seasons for best germination rates.
  • Store chamomile seeds properly in sealed containers in the fridge or freezer to extend longevity. Avoid very hot conditions.

Saving chamomile seeds from your own flowers is easy, rewarding, and economical. Plus, you’ll have a stash of seeds ready for planting more beautiful, scented chamomile flowers next year!

Conclusion

Chamomile is such a delightful flower to grow in any garden. With its pretty white petals and yellow centers, it provides visual appeal while also offering calming medicinal effects. While nursery starts are always an option, don’t overlook growing chamomile from seeds! Collecting and saving seeds from your own plants is one of the joys of gardening. This allows you to curate the genetics and cultivate plants that thrive in your specific conditions. Hopefully, the tips provided give you the confidence to try harvesting chamomile seeds for yourself. After a little practice, you’ll find it is easy to gather and store the tiny seeds each season. Soon you’ll have an abundant supply ready for sowing more flowers or making soothing teas and herbal products with the powerful active compounds chamomile provides.

FAQs

How do you know when chamomile seeds are ripe?

Check the flower heads daily once blooming slows. The seeds are ripe when the flowers are completely dry, the petals have dropped off, and the hollow cones feel crispy. Gently shake to listen for the loose, rattling seeds inside.

Can you grow chamomile from store-bought tea bags?

This is risky since the seeds may not be fresh or viable. It’s best to buy chamomile seeds from a reputable supplier. But if you do want to try, open a non-flavored tea bag and sprinkle the contents into starter trays.

Do you need two chamomile plants to produce seeds?

No, a single chamomile plant will set seeds and self-pollinate usually, but having more plants nearby improves seed production. Chamomile has perfect flowers containing both male and female parts.

What’s the best way to dry chamomile flowers for seeds?

Gently lay harvested flower heads in a single layer on mesh racks or cloth indoors. Drying takes 1-2 weeks at room temperature out of direct light. Turn occasionally so they dry evenly. The goal is completely dry, brittle flowers.

How do you extract tiny chamomile seeds?

After fully drying, you can rub flower heads between your hands over a bowl to separate the seeds. Or crumble dry flowers near the base of the cone and lightly brush seeds free into a container for cleaning.

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