How to Grow Chia Herb Plant
Annual, Salvia hispanica
Chia plants... surprise, surprise. They're not just for Chia pets. Chia
plants are classified as an herb. They are most often grown for their
flavorful seeds. The leaves and sprouts are edible, too. And best of
all, they are good for you! For us gardeners, there's even more good
news: chia plants are easy to grow. Perhaps the only downside to this
great annual plant, is they can become invasive, as the prolific seed
production will self seed the area where they are planted.
Chia seeds have a pleasant, nutty taste. They are healthy and
nutritious. The seeds are high in fiber, calcium, Omega-3 and other
ingredients. They are gluten free. All this goodness makes you want to
grow them, doesn't it? Yeah, me too! The seeds are not readily available
from the top home garden seed companies, so you won't find them in brick
and mortar stores, You can easily find chia seeds for planting with a
quick online search.
Chia plants native to Mexico and Guatemala. They were grown by
Ancient Aztecs and other indigenous people. They are an annual plant,
and members of the Mint family. Most varieties grow up to 4 feet tall
and 18 inches in diameter. The tallest variety grows up to 6 feet. The
plants begin to produce blue, lavender and white flowers four months
after they germinate. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and
hummingbirds. The birds will eat the seeds, too. The plants prefer
dry, warmer climates and are drought resistant.
Plant Height: Most varieties grow to four feet.
Ideal pH: 6.0 - 8.0
Propagation of Chia Plants:
Chia plants are started from tiny black seeds. You can start them
indoors, or directly plant them into your herb garden. The seeds are
tiny, so most growers start them indoors. The seeds germinate in 1 to 2
Soak seeds in water at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then sow
them into seed trays. Place them on top of the soil in the seed trays
and lightly cover them with light seed starting soil. Keep the soil
moist, not wet. The high fiber content of the seeds readily absorb water
and will rot in wet soil.
How to Grow Chia Plants:
Chia plants are easy to grow and fast growing.
Established plants require little maintenance.
Chia plants prefer warm, dry weather, and bright, full sunlight. They
grow well in average or sandy soils, that is well draining. Mix in a
healthy amount of compost prior to planting.
Plant seeds or transplants outdoors after all danger of frost has past.
Transplants should be at least 6 inches tall and have 6 to 8 pairs of
leaves prior to planting Final spacing of plants should be 12" to
Plants are drought resistant. Water only when the soil is dry to the
The plants need little or no fertilizer. Add fertilizer only if grown in
Mulch around plants early to keep weeds down, while the chia plants get
The leaves and flowers grow off of sturdy stems. Four months after
germinating, the plants will begin to flower. Expired flowers will
produce the seed pods. You can deadhead flowers for an additional,
larger profusion of flowers later.
After the flower has died, you will see the seed pod. When the pods are
dry and brown, cut off one pod and shake it. If you can hear the seeds
rattling in the pod, they are ready to harvest.
Dried seeds are long keepers. They can be stored in an airtight
container for two to three years.
Chia plants have little or no pest and disease problems.
Chia plants do not survive a hard frost.
Culinary and Medicinal Uses:
Seeds are the most common crop. They can be eaten raw and whole.
Sprinkle seeds over a wide variety of foods. Add the seeds to
pudding, juice, teas, milkshakes and smoothies. The seeds can be ground
for flour and in baking, like flax. The leaves can be used in tea.
Use the sprouts in salads or smoothies.
The high fiber content is good for the digestive system. It is
important to note that the seeds absorb a lot of water. If dried whole
seeds are eaten in large quantities, they can absorb water in the
stomach and digestive tract, causing temporary blockage.
More and Related Information:
How to Dry Herbs
Chia Pet Day