Chamomile is a marvelous medicinal herb with beautiful blooms. But let’s be honest: it can be a bit boisterous in the garden.
your favorite herbs, but you long for the fresh taste of homegrown chamomile tea.
The solution? Containers.
Planting chamomile in a pot keeps things under control. You can still enjoy those pretty little white flowers, even if you only have a tiny spot in the corner of your apartment balcony.
Why Grow Chamomile in a Container?
In general, growing any herb in a container can make it easier to use.
When it’s located close to your kitchen, as part of your patio or deck decor, it’s that much easier to bring in a harvest when you need it.
raised bed or in-ground row.
Mint also has a tendency to spread, but at least I had an abundance of herbal tea that year!
In a container, the prolific tendencies are more easily kept in check. It’s also a plant that can handle a little dryness, so it’s practically tailor-made to live in a pot. Container-grown plants tend to dry out more quickly than plants grown in-ground in the garden.
As if that wasn’t enough, it’s not just ideal for planting outdoors. You can also grow chamomile year-round indoors! We’ll cover that in more detail in a separate guide (coming soon!) but I’ll touch on it here as well.
The Roman type tends to produce fewer flowers than the German variety, so if you’re hoping for an abundant tea harvest, go for German chamomile.
You can find packets of M. recutita seeds available at Eden Brothers.
Because of its size, Roman isn’t ideal for growing indoors.
You can find seeds in packets of various sizes available at Eden Brothers.
Choosing the Best Container
When it comes to growing chamomile, just about any container you can find will do, so long as it has good drainage and is large enough.
I’ve reused paint cans, an old chicken feeder, an antique sink, and drawers from a dresser that had broken.
terra cotta, clay, or plastic potting containers.
Whatever you use, make sure the pot has at least one quarter-inch drainage hole spaced every two to three inches on the bottom. Chamomile can handle a bit of drought, but wet feet will kill it.
Keep in mind that if you use something like cement or terra cotta and you plan to move the container in and out of doors, it may crack due to the changes in temperature. Resin or plastic may be a better choice.
When it comes to size, you shouldn’t crowd your chamomile. It has shallow roots, but requires space to spread out.
It’s tempting to look at those pretty pictures on Pinterest that show compact, overflowing herb containers, but many of those plants don’t have enough space to spread and grow.
Your German chamomile plant needs a container that’s at least 12 inches wide and 8 inches deep.
Keep in mind the plant grows up to 24 inches tall at maturity, so the pot should be heavy enough to support the plant and prevent it from tipping over.
If you plan to grow it with a companion plant like basil, select a container that is at least 18 inches wide.
Roman chamomile requires a container that’s 18-24 inches wide so that it can spread out, and about 8-inches deep.
Picking the Right Site
Chamomile attracts all kinds of beneficial insects like bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and parasitic wasps, so you might consider keeping your containers near your herb or veggie garden, or other potted edible plants that require pollination.
Preparing the Pot
Before you use any container, it’s a good idea to be sure that it’s sterile to avoid diseases like damping off. You should even do this with new ones purchased from the store.
Wipe down the interior with a mixture of bleach and water, in the ratio of one part bleach to ten parts water.
You could also add some perlite, which helps to increase aeration and drainage.
Then, fill the container to an inch below the rim.
Avoid using garden soil, as you want to make sure it is sterile and free from weed seeds or soil-borne disease.
How to Grow
Chamomile can be planted by seed, transplants, or divisions. You can read more about the various options in detail in our guide to growing chamomile.
Below you’ll find a brief synopsis of these methods, with additional details catered specifically to container growing.
You can start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost to give yourself a longer growing season.
This is especially useful if you live in an area with sweltering summers, since chamomile stops growing when temperatures approach 100°F.
provide artificial lighting.
Thin the seedlings when they’ve grown to an inch or two in height. You only want one seedling per cell, or one plant per 12-inch container.
Once plants are 4-6 inches tall, you can transplant them – if growing in seed cells – following the instructions given below.
After all risk of frost has passed, it’s time to harden off your plants, ready for life outdoors.
To do this, place the container in a sheltered, sunny location for a few hours per day, gradually increasing over the course of a week.
Alternatively, you can sow seeds in containers outdoors after all risk of frost has passed.
From Seedlings or Transplants
You can buy chamomile seedlings at most nurseries in spring.
Before transplanting to your permanent container, you’ll need to harden them off as described above, after all risk of frost has passed.
our guide to dividing perennials.
Container Care and Harvest
Chamomile has shallow roots, and when it’s young, it can be traumatized by a lack of water. Once it’s gotten its legs, a well-established plant can handle a little drought.
Put a rain gauge in your garden space to save money on watering costs.
Your finger can be a pretty effective tool as well. Just stick a digit into the soil, and check for moisture. Water when the top 1/2-inch of the soil feels dry.
Chamomile growing in soil that is low in nutrients becomes top-heavy and weak.
Fertilize by watering with fish emulsion once a month at half the manufacturer’s recommended amount, after the plants have reached their mature height. Use deodorized fish emulsion if you’re growing your plants indoors.
A Note of Caution:
If you’re allergic to ragweed, you might not want to plant chamomile indoors or too close to your home, since these plants are related and may cause a similar allergic response.
Chamomile in a Container Is One of the Joys of Summer
Even when I have a massive garden full of plants, I like to keep a pot of chamomile near the chairs on my patio.
The little flowers are such an essential part of summer, and I can step right out my back door when I have a craving for some chamomile tea.
container-grown plants, check out these guides next:
Kristine Lofgren is a writer, photographer, reader, and gardening lover from outside Portland, Oregon. She was raised in the Utah desert, and made her way to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two dogs in 2018. Her passion is focused these days on growing ornamental edibles, and foraging for food in the urban and suburban landscape.