Chamomile Care Indoors – Learn How To Grow Chamomile Indoors
How to grow chamomile indoors?
Growing chamomile is not difficult but it requires some effort. You need to have patience, care and attention when you are growing chamomile plants. If you want to grow chamomile indoors then you must know what you are doing before starting your project.
The first thing you need to do is to decide which type of chamomile plant you want to grow. There are two types of chamomile: the wild type and the cultivated one. Wild chamomile (Camellia sinensis) grows naturally in most parts of the world.
It’s leaves are smooth and greenish white with small purple flowers that bloom only once every few years or even less often than that. It produces no fruit at all. Chamomile flowers are very fragrant and attract bees, butterflies and other insects. They make their home in the flower petals.
Wild chamomile is easy to grow because there is no pest problem associated with them. However, they don’t produce any oil so they aren’t suitable for making herbal teas or capsules, which require oils such as those produced by Camellia sinensis.
Cultivated chamomile (Camellia sinensis) grows wild in the mountainous regions of Southern Europe, North Africa and Asia but is now grown in many places all over the world as well. It has green leaves with white or pale yellow flowers that bloom only once a year, usually in June. The flowers are smaller and smell less than those of wild chamomile.
It grows both flowers and fruits, but does not produce as much oil as wild chamomile.
Chamomile is a flower that can be used to make a soothing herbal tea and it is also used for medicinal purposes. If you want to grow a chamomile plant indoors then you should start your project in a small pot, which is at least 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter, so that the roots will not become cramped. Pots that are too small cause chamomile plants to become stressed, which reduces the oil they produce.
A large chamomile plant can grow to be more than 3 feet (1 m) high and 3 feet (1 m) wide and will produce more oil than a small plant, so it makes sense to give your plants enough space to thrive.
The soil you choose to grow your plants in is very important. You need to add a little sand and peat moss to the potting soil you’re using because chamomile plants need a soil that drains well. They will not grow in water-logged soil, which can cause root rot.
You also need to learn how to grow chamomile indoors under artificial light because it is rarely found growing naturally where you live. Chamomile plants require full sunlight to grow properly. If you live where there is cloudy weather for most of the year, then your chamomile plants will produce less oil than those grown in sunny areas or in greenhouses.
You can start growing chamomile indoors under artificial light in late Winter or early Spring when you set up your lights. You will need to provide at least 12 hours of light daily until the chamomile plant’s yellow flowers bloom. After their flowers bloom, you can give them less light.
You need to start your chamomile plants in individual 3 inch (7.5 cm) pots because they need a lot of root space. Fill the pots 3/4 full with some good quality potting soil.
Place one chamomile plant in each pot and then fill the rest of the pot with soil. Firm the soil around each chamomile plant and water it well.
Place your pots on a tray and set them under your grow lights. The chamomile plants will grow tall so make sure the pots don’t touch the lights. Chamomile plants require more frequent watering than most plants, so keep an eye on them and water them as needed.
Add some liquid plant food to the water once a week.
Your chamomile plants require lots of light so they can produce lots of oil so it is important that the grow lights are placed no more than 12 inches (30 cm) away from the plants. The leaves of your plants should never absorb more than 27 watts per square foot of light. If you have more than one row of lights make sure there is space between them so the leaves do not touch them.
The most common mistake made when growing chamomile indoors is giving the plants too much water. It’s better to water your plants infrequently and deeply than to give them a drenching more often. Overwatering causes root rot and once the roots are gone the plants will die.
Fertilize your chamomile plants every two weeks with an all-purpose plant food diluted to half strength. Give your plants a good shower right before you fertilize to get the soil nice and damp.
How to Grow Chamomile Outdoors
If you live in a warm climate where the weather stays warm all year round, you can grow your chamomile outdoors.
Choose a spot in full sun, dig up a patch of ground about 3 feet (1 m) around and 2 feet (60 cm) deep. Add some sand and peat moss to your soil to improve its drainage.
Plant your chamomile seeds about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) deep. Water the planted seeds well and place a plank or something similar over the patch to mark where it is.
Keep the soil damp but not water-logged. Your plants will be big enough to harvest in about three months and can be harvested several times during the hotter months.
Harvesting Your Chamomile
Cut or snap off the dry flowers just below the base of the flower. Spread them out in a single layer to dry further. Once the flowers are thoroughly dry, store in airtight containers out of direct sunlight.
Dried chamomile is quite attractive and makes a nice gift. You can also crush it and mix it with other herbs and store for use in pillows to help you sleep.
Harvesting chamomile can be quite a chore since it grows so quickly, but once you have a good harvest, you’ll have plenty for the whole year.
It takes about 70 days from the time of planting for the chamomile to be ready for harvest.
Harvesting chamomile is very easy; they’re ready when the flower heads are full out and the petals start to turn a light brown. The best way to harvest chamomile is to grab each flower head, or terminal flower, as it starts to turn brown and pull up on it. This should remove it along with about 15-20%of the leaves.
You can use the leaves in another recipe but for the most part they’re fairly low in essential oils so they’re not really worth while.
The best way to dry chamomile is to let it and in a brown paper bag and leave it for about five days. You can also dry it in a dehydrator or simply by hanging the flowers upside-down and letting them dry. Once the flowers are completely dry you can store them in an airtight container away from sunlight.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is an aromatic shrub that grows well in poor soil. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region but is now grown around the world. Native Americans used it as a strewing herb and as a tea for colds and as a general tonic.
Rosemary is not related to the flowers commonly known as Rose mallows.
Rosemary’s aroma is woody and very slightly minty. Its flavor is sharp and bitter so it is not eaten in large amounts, but is used as a flavoring for meats, especially lamb, pork and game.
Rosemary contains the chemical components of camphor, borneol and thujone. It also contains antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin A and Vitamin C.
A tea made from rosemary flowers can help to reduce internal swelling and is good for the removal of toxins from the blood. It also helps to relax the muscles and reduces menstrual cramps.
How to Grow Rosemary
Rosemary transplants very easily since it is grown from hardwood or semi-ripe cuttings rather than seeds.
Take a cutting from the tips of a mature but woody stem in early spring while the plant is still dormant. Cut off all the leaves and let the cutting sit for about a week so that it can dry out a bit and prepare for growth.
Choose a pot that has good drainage. Fill it up about an inch deep with a mixture of half sand and half horticultural grade peat moss. Insert the cutting about an inch deep into the soil and then water it.
Place the potted cutting where it will get filtered sun, but not full sun. Full sun will cook the rosemary cutting and will eventually “cook” it to death.
Water the rosemary enough to keep the soil moist but not enough to make it soggy.
In colder climates you can grow rosemary in a container that can be moved indoors when winter rolls around.
If you want to harvest rosemary for kitchen use, wait until the plant is at least a year old before you start harvesting. When the plant is mature it will have small yellow flowers and will start to develop small bluegreen berries. Cut off the stem that has the berry or flowers on it and strip the leaves from it.
You can dry the leaves in a dehydrator or by hanging them upside-down over cloth and leaving them for several days. Once the leaves are dry store them in an airtight container away from heat and light.
Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
Horehound is a branching herbaceous perennial that is native to southern Europe but has naturalized in other parts of the world including the United States and Canada.
The leaves are dark green and shiny and have an obvious white stripe or “wayve” which gives the leaf its name.
Horehound is bitter, aromatic and very astringent. It was used as a flavoring for toothache medicine, gumdrops, lozenges and candy, but it can also be used in cooking especially for desserts in small amounts to enhance flavor.
Horehound is a good source of potassium and also contains trace minerals.
How to Grow Horehound
Horehound grows from seeds that can be collected when the flowers die off in the fall and can be sown in a dark warm place. It also spreads rapidly under ideal growing conditions so you might want to keep it contained.
Horehound prefers dry loose soil with some sun, but it can tolerate poor soils and even dry climates.
Like most herbs, it is cut back in the fall and can be harvested for its leaves at any time although leaves from new growth are more desirable.
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettles are an herbaceous perennial that is common all over the world. They have small inconspicuous flowers and sting when touched. The sting resulting in a swelling that lasts about 24 hours and is similar to a bee sting.
Nettles have long been used as a pot herb and as a food. It is now being standardized and sold as an organic source of vitamins K, B6, C and Iron among others. The best way to harvest nettles is when they are in the young leafy stage as the older leaves become tough and fibrous.
It is easily grown in most temperate areas as it is very hardy. It prefers wet places, but tolerates dryness.
It can be dried and powdered or cooked while still fresh. It can be used as an herb in soups, stews and other dishes.
How to Grow Nettles
Nettles prefer wet areas but will grow almost anywhere in full sun or partial shade. The seeds are very small so they can be directly sow into the ground. Once they are growing they spread quickly so you may want to keep them in check with frequent harvesting.
They should be harvested when young as the older leaves become tough and fibrous. Once they flower they become bitter so it is best to harvest before this point.
Harvest the leaves, stems and young shoots in the early stages of growth. Drying can be done in a similar manner as described for dandelion.
Once it is dry it can be stored in an airtight container. The dried leaves, stems and shoots can also be made into tea, wine, vinegar, ornaments, herbal remedies and insect repellent.
Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica)
The Prickly Pear Cactus is a representative of the Cacti family native to America. The pads or fruit of the plant have traditionally been used as food by Native American tribes such as the Hopi and Pima people. They are also known to the world for their sweet juicy pulp that is used to make a refreshing summertime drink called “Agwa De Florida” which is a popular non-alcoholic refreshment in Mexico.
It is also widely used in Chinese medicine for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties among others.
The cacti is very easy to grow and prefer dry, sandy or loose soil. It also needs a lot of sunlight and is resistant to frosts. It can grow up to 6 feet tall in favorable conditions.
The flowers are pollinated by insects and have small green or yellow fruit that is round in shape.
How to grow Prickly Pear Cactus
The prickly pear cactus can be grown from cuttings or seeds. The seeds can be collected from the fruit, cleaned and then sown after the last frost. Alternatively, you can also plant the cut pads in well-drained soil.
Trim off the spines of the pad to prevent accidental injury while handling it. Also, handle the pads carefully so as not to damage them as this can lead to infection.
Sources & references used in this article:
Healing Houseplants: How to Keep Plants Indoors for Clean Air, Healthier Skin, Improved Focus, and a Happier Life! by M Polk – 2018 – books.google.com
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Development of a Plant Care Guide for the Veterans Hospital Horticultural Therapy Program by J Schneider – 2016 – digitalcommons.esf.edu
Suitability of two root-mining weevils for the biological control of scentless chamomile, Tripleurospermum perforatum, with special regard to potential non-target effects by HL Hinz, H Müller-Schärer – Bulletin of entomological research, 2000 – doc.rero.ch
Aromatherapy for Common Ailments: How to Use Essential Oils–Such as Rosemary, Chamomile, and Lavender–To Prevent and Treat More Than 40 … by EH Spitz – 2000 – Yale University Press
Chamomile: medicinal, biochemical, and agricultural aspects by S Price – 2003 – books.google.com
Rooted in Design: Sprout Home’s Guide to Creative Indoor Planting by M Das – 2014 – books.google.com