How I Grow and Harvest Organic Chia Seeds


Why Would You Grow Your Own Chia?

Chia is easy to grow, beautiful to look at, and offers lots of nutritional value. It deserves a place in any garden.

I have been growing chia organically for the past ten years, and in that time I have fine-tuned my growing and harvesting techniques. Chia is one of the easiest plants to grow, and one of the healthiest.

Chia seeds are a very high source of linolenic acid (LNA) and linoleic acid (LA). Both these essential fatty acids attract oxygen and help cell membranes to be flexible and fluid, plus strengthen our immune system to help protect our bodies from viruses, bacteria, and allergies.

Most people's diets are dangerously low in essential fatty acids, which results in tired muscles, fatigue, and a range of health problems. We need to eat EFAs daily because the human body cannot manufacture them. If your diet includes a lot of refined oils and processed foods, you are most at risk.

EFAs, such as those found in chia, can assist with weight loss and removal of toxins from the body.

Enzymes in chia also help with digestion of other foods.

Traditionally, chia has been used to calm nerves and strengthen the memory, but the most high-profile value of chia comes from the seed's ability to give you energy. University research has revealed that one tablespoon of chia seed could reasonably be expected to sustain a person working hard enough to work up a sweat, for 24 hours.

This is the kind of chia seeds I bought years ago and planted. Since then, I've been harvesting and saving seed to use from one year to the next. I'll show you how easy it is to grow your own chia plants.
This is the kind of chia seeds I bought years ago and planted. Since then, I've been harvesting and saving seed to use from one year to the next. I'll show you how easy it is to grow your own chia plants. | Source

10 Ways to Use Chia Seeds and Leaves

Chia is very convenient and versatile. Here's ten different ways to use chia seeds and leaves.

  1. Chew Chia Seeds
    I chew chia seeds, releasing their nutty taste, as a snack on a busy day. They swell a little as they absorb saliva, making them soft and ready for the journey to your stomach.

  2. Soak and Drink
    Soaking the seeds first in water or fresh juice makes them even easier for your body to digest. Wait long enough for the seeds to swell. Chia seeds have appetite suppressant qualities and are useful for dieters.

  3. Add Chia to Milkshakes and Smoothies
    If you enjoy a summer smoothie or your kids like milkshakes, add some chia seeds for extra energy. You probably won't notice them as you drink, but the goodness will be there!

  4. Sprinkle Chia Seeds Over Food
    Chia seeds can be sprinkled over breakfast cereals, jam on toast, or a nice fresh salad. When I serve my home-made pumpkin soup, I add a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle chia seeds over the top of each bowl.

  5. Eat Chia Sprouts
    Sprouting chia seeds increases their vitamin content and makes them even more nutritious. Just like sprouted alfalfa and mung beans, chia sprouts are a great addition to a salad.

  6. Drink Chia Tea
    The leaves, fresh or dried, make a relaxing and therapeutic tea. Chia tea has traditionally been used for fevers and pain relief, to relieve arthritis and respiratory problems, as a gargle for mouth ulcers and sore throats, and to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If you want to sweeten your chia tea, use a healthy sweetener like honey or stevia.

  7. Add Chia to Bread MIx
    When baking bread, I sometimes toss a handful of chia seeds in the mix. This is not the healthiest way to eat chia because essential fatty acids are at their best when uncooked, but it makes the bread a little lighter and provides a nice change in texture.

  8. Use Chia to Feed Birds and Animals
    Extra chia leaves I feed to my hens, pigs, or other animals. The animals would eat the seeds too, but I keep most of the seeds for human consumption and planting next year. If I've had a bumper crop, I feed chia seeds to my chickens and other birds.

  9. Chia as Garden Mulch
    If you don't have animals, use the chia leaves as mulch. Remember though, if you have not removed all the seeds they are likely to grow where they fall. To avoid random chia plants growing in your garden, add the leaves and stalks to your compost heap.

  10. Give the Gift of Chia
    Home-grown chia makes a wonderful gift. Package seeds in a jar or bottle for those who like to eat chia, and give one of your small plants to anyone who likes to garden.

Chia Leaves

Chia leaves: Pick and dry them to make tea.
Chia leaves: Pick and dry them to make tea. | Source

Where to Grow Chia

Before you choose where to plant chia seeds or transplant your seedlings, it helps to have a realistic expectation of the size of a mature chia plant. Chia plants grow to the size of a large bush or small tree.

If you grow herbs in small pots or tucked tightly together in an outdoor herb garden, you'll need to find a new spot for chia. Chia grows taller than most herbs and takes up a lot of space, so give thought to where you'll grow it.

Chia is not a ground-hugger like mint, and it will grow much taller than even the biggest parsley, sage, or rosemary plants. You need to provide sufficient space (and head room) for your chia to expand before it flowers.

My organic chia plants grow as tall as an adult. Some reach six feet or more while others settle and flower at about five feet tall. If you intend to grow chia in a pot, it is important to anticipate the size of a mature chia plant when choosing the pot size.

How Big Does a Chia Plant Grow?

How tall does your chia grow? My organic chia plants grow as tall as an adult.
How tall does your chia grow? My organic chia plants grow as tall as an adult. | Source

How to Grow Organic Chia

Chia seeds are tiny. You don't need to dig a hole to bury them. Lightly ruffle an area of your weed-free garden with a rake or, if you only have a few seeds and are spacing them carefully, simply loosen the earth with your fingers. Sprinkle a few seeds over the soil and rub gently to cover them.

Water the seeds daily, and within about a week you can expect to see chia sprouts.

When planting chia seeds directly in the garden, I create a carpet of chia and then thin the plants as they grow. Some are fed to the hens, some are used as mulch, and some are harvested while young to dry the leaves for chia tea.

Chia seeds can also germinate successfully in pots. If you want to start your chia plants indoors or close to your garden tap, sprinkle the seeds lightly in your pot and water regularly. When the sprouts are about three inches tall, they are ready for transplanting.

Remember to mulch your chia plants as they grow, and water them regularly. They thrive in an organic garden and don't like competing with weeds.

Here's some hints to remember:

  1. Don't clear existing weeds until you are ready to fill the space.
  2. When it's time to plant, work gently. Don't dig up or turn all the top soil (thereby exposing a whole new lot of weed seeds).
  3. Plant your new seeds in the freshly cleared space without inviting unnecessary competition from deeper weed seeds.
  4. Add mulch and compost and anything you like to make your garden healthier as your plants grow, but put it on top and let it feed the soil from above.

Chia Seedlings

Chia seeds germinated in a pot.
Chia seeds germinated in a pot. | Source

Time Lapse Sequence of Chia Seeds Sprouting

Chia Flowering

In addition to the health benefits associated with eating the seeds and drinking tea made from the leaf, chia flowers look lovely in the garden.
In addition to the health benefits associated with eating the seeds and drinking tea made from the leaf, chia flowers look lovely in the garden. | Source

Harvesting Chia Seeds

The size of your harvest will determine how many days are required to separate the seeds, but if I don't have time, I store dried flower heads in a large calico bag until I have time for my next seed separating session.

Successful collection of chia seeds without waste has a lot to do with timing. When growing chia at home, it is possible to pick individual flower heads when they look ready instead of doing a mass harvesting like they do in a commercial growing environment.

If you wait until the flower head browns, you risk losing the seeds.

  • Begin harvesting your chia as soon as most of the petals have fallen off the flower.
  • Give the heads time to dry in paper bags or on a drying rack. Expect at least some of the chia seeds will break free in the process.
  • Do not hang the plants upside down in your shed.

Ready for Harvest

The easiest way to harvest chia is to pick it. Wait until most of the petals have fallen. If in doubt, check for seeds before harvesting your seed heads.
The easiest way to harvest chia is to pick it. Wait until most of the petals have fallen. If in doubt, check for seeds before harvesting your seed heads. | Source
Dried chia flower heads, ready for seed separation. Picked at the right time and allowed to dry, the chia seeds are easy to separate and collect.
Dried chia flower heads, ready for seed separation. Picked at the right time and allowed to dry, the chia seeds are easy to separate and collect. | Source

Harvesting Chia: So Easy a Child Can Do It!

Harvesting chia is great fun for children.

Because I insist on growing everything organically, there are no pesticides or chemicals to fear at harvest time. Together, the children and I pick the flower heads, put them in paper bags left open so the air can circulate, and wait for them to dry.

Children love to crush the flower heads and loosen the seeds. Chia is one of those lovely plants that doesn't have sharp or prickly parts. Even when dry, they still feel relatively soft on your hands. I set the children up with their own work area and they can busy themselves for a full day.

Meanwhile, I work separately.

Separating the Chia Seed from the Flower Head

My children conduct science experiments with chia. They explore different ways to separate the seed.
My children conduct science experiments with chia. They explore different ways to separate the seed. | Source

Crushing Chia Flower Heads

The fastest and easiest way to crush the dried flower heads and extract the chia seeds is to rub with a flat hand.
The fastest and easiest way to crush the dried flower heads and extract the chia seeds is to rub with a flat hand. | Source
Once the chia flower head is rolled and crushed, pour the seeds and debris into a sifter.
Once the chia flower head is rolled and crushed, pour the seeds and debris into a sifter. | Source

Other Ways to Harvest Chia

If you turn your back as your chia matures, and you find it is really too late to pick your flower heads without losing too many seeds, there's a more effective way of collecting the seeds than thrashing the plant.

Simply hold a bag underneath and shake one flower head at a time. This will be a slow and arduous process if you are growing a lot of chia plants, but the seeds will fall freely.

If your seed heads are very dry and the seed is difficult to catch, try cutting the whole head off with scissors. The falling seeds will land in the bag. When you get back to your kitchen, separating the remaining seeds may be as simple as shaking, instead of rolling, the individual seed heads.

In my experience, the simplest, easiest, and most effective way to harvest your chia is to wait for most of the flowers to fall and pick when there are only a small number of petals remaining. Nature will help the seeds dry and become firm if you allow plenty of fresh air to circulate around your plants.

Growing more chia is easy. Toss some of your harvested chia seeds in your garden in the spring and enjoy the benefits of homegrown organic chia for years.

This Video Made Me Laugh...

There is no need to slap the plant the way the people in the video do. I don't actually see a chia plant in their garden, but perhaps it is a different variety from the one most of us are familiar with.

If I put in as much effort as they did, I would want to see a much bigger bag of chia seeds for my effort. :)

Collecting chia seeds in my organic garden is much more pleasant and a lot less work.

Nutritional Value of Black, White, and Brown Chia Seeds: Which Color Is Best?

Chia seeds come in various shades of brown, gray, black, and white. In fact, the accepted definition of "black chia" includes gray and brown chia seeds. Yes, it has always been the case with chia that brown is black. (In name, at least.) Black chia has traditionally been the name given to any chia seed that isn't white (which, incidentally isn't really white, either).

I was warned that since commercial cloning has resulted in the production of darker seeds, PR teams were generating controversy around the "superior nutrition" of black chia, making the darker seeds seem more valuable and (hopefully) undermining the status of natural chia. So if you ever hear anyone claim that black chia is better, think again.

It came as no surprise to me that when I googled the subject of black and white chia seeds being the only ones suitable for consumption, dismissing the value of brown seeds, the one and only company making that claim about brown chia seeds is — you guessed it — the very same chia company I'd been warned about.

It seems the word of doubt is starting to spread, but don't believe what they tell you — the brown seeds are in no way inferior (and, in fact, their brown color may be a sign that they're natural!). Folks who simply repeat what they read on the internet will fall for the PR stunt but those who know about chia, through research and personal experience, will always know it is a load of hogwash.

People can – and will – grow chia in their yards, with varying levels of success. Whether they plant black, white, or brown chia seeds from whichever packet of chia they have in their cupboards makes no real difference.

Stalk of a Chia Plant

Chia plants have very distinctive stalks. At later stages they are clearly ribbed but at first, you may need to rub it to feel the ribs. In this photo, taken at the end of the season, the ribs are very obvious.
Chia plants have very distinctive stalks. At later stages they are clearly ribbed but at first, you may need to rub it to feel the ribs. In this photo, taken at the end of the season, the ribs are very obvious. | Source

World Shortage of Chia!

Have you seen news of a world shortage of chia? Lately, there have been sporadic shortages during which chia seeds were hard to obtain. At one point, all chia wholesale companies in Europe were sold out. Undoubtedly, as word spreads of chia's healthy properties, demand for the seeds will continue to increase.

All it takes is one bad season in a major chia growing area for seeds to become more difficult and more expensive to buy. To my way of thinking, that's even more reason to plant and harvest your own chia.

Have I answered your questions about growing and harvesting chia?

Is there sufficient information provided here to meet your immediate needs?

  • Yes, I have learned enough. I am confident I can get started planting and harvesting chia seeds.
  • More information please. I still have unanswered questions (see comments below).
See results without voting

© 2013 LongTimeMother

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Comments 212 comments

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 4 weeks ago from Australia Author

Wow. Starting a chia business at your school sounds like an interesting idea. If your flowers didn't bloom, there's a few possible problems.

1) Perhaps your chia plants weren't getting enough sunshine, water or mulch (as food).

2) Perhaps your chia plants are too close together. Did you leave enough space for each one to grow as tall as an adult?

3) Your growing season might be too short. Did you plant them out at the first sign of warm spring weather?

I notice your name is 'Icyfox' so I wonder if you live somewhere with a really long winter. If you think the problem with your chia is due to the first two potential problems, try again next season. But if your growing season is too short, that won't be good for your chia business. :(

Icyfox 4 weeks ago

This site was very useful. I actually started a chia business at my school! This site helped a lot. Unfortunately the flowers did not bloom. I was wondering why they didn't and when do they usually bloom.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 months ago from Australia Author

Paula, I have no experience and no idea whether or not chia can be harvested by machine. I grow chia in my own yard for my own personal use, with enough chia seeds to give to friends and family. And, because I've never been to South Africa I'm not familiar with your local climate. You'll probably just have to experiment to establish the answers to your questions. Good luck.

What is the best time to plant chai seeds ? In winter or summer? I live in Oudtshoorn in south africa .Hope to hear from you soon .regards 3 months ago

Very interedting

Can inplant chai seeds in winter of summer?

Will ig grow in oudtshoorn in RSA?

Can it also be harvested by a machine ?


Paula potgieter

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 months ago from Australia Author

Chia can be grown in the tropics, Mario, but you'll have to experiment with the best time to plant, giving shade etc. There's lots of discussions with people all around the world in these comments. If you take time to read through them, you'll find lots of extra hints. Good luck.

Mario Cassandra 3 months ago

Does Chia grow in tropical climate? are those sprouts withstanding with 30-34 degree Celcius?

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 months ago from Australia Author

You can cut leaves from anywhere on a chia plant, Melissa, once the plant has had time to become established. There's an abundance of leaves and you could, in theory, harvest up to 50% of the leaves from a mature chia plant without compromising seed development.

Melissa Lyons 3 months ago

I'd like to harvest the seeds, but I also want some of the leaves. Do I just cut the leaves from the bottom of the plant, or is there another way I can use the leaves without disrupting the process for the seeds?

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 4 months ago from Australia Author

My chia is Salvia Hispanica. I'm quietly confident you could successfully grow and harvest the same chia in your California climate. Just start with the same chia seeds you use for eating, and then follow the instructions in my article. You are right about gathering the seed. No spines on the flower heads!

wotnot 4 months ago


Enjoyed your article.

I've been 'encouraging' chia to grow in my yard the last 3 years.

Re; the video showing California native plant chia. Yours is definitely different. The California chia has SPINEY flower heads. And they hurt to touch. That's why they are beating them with a beater of some sort. The leaves are lobed also.

Video shows modern version of how the ancient native Americans harvested.

What is the scientific name of your chia?

I wonder if it would grow here in Calif. It would be a lot easier to gather the seed!



LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 4 months ago from Australia Author

I garden with the help of nature. I plant my chia early in Spring, and I harvest my chia whenever the plants look ready (as you'll see in the photos.) I never pay attention to precise temperatures, dates etc. For me, gardening is far more natural than that. Most years, my chia successfully flowers and seeds. Occasionally nature throws me a curve ball and I get unexpected frosts really early (or late) and lots of my plants suffer, including my chia. But that's life.

Whether you plant your chia in direct sunshine or not is a decision each gardener needs make, dependent on their own climate. If you have relentless sun during summer, try planting your chia where the plants receive morning sun, but a bit of shade in the afternoons. Or, do what I do whenever I move to a new location (as I've done many times in my life), and try a few chia plants in different parts of your garden the first year.

By the second year, you'll know which place is best for them. Good luck.

Phinco nz 4 months ago

hi when is the best time (temperature wise ) to grow chia? Also do I plant in direct sun or do they prefer shade, Thanks

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 4 months ago from Australia Author

Here's my answers to the recent batch of questions about how I grow and harvest organic chia seeds.

1) Yes, Carla, you can start chia in a container. Perhaps you missed the photo of all the little chia plants I started in a large pot. (Under 'Chia Seedlings'.)

2) BertieBeetle, you'll need to do your own research about that. I love growing my own chia plants, and knowing they're fresh and organic!

3) Mary Coles, thanks for your kind words. As for propagating from cuttings, I've never tried it because chia is so easy to grow from seed. :)

4) Carolina, I hope you figured out the answer to your question. (Computer problems prevented me from answering earlier, sorry.) I eat chia seed sprouts, but that includes eating the sprouting seed ~ so I don't cut them in the way you are suggesting. As I mentioned in this article, I use chia leaves to make tea. I've heard of others who use chia leaves in stir-fry meals but I grow so many vegetables in my garden, I'm never short of things to use in a stir-fry so I never think to add chia leaves.

Thanks for your comments. I hope my answers are helpful.

Carla Figuereo 5 months ago

I wanna grow chia seeds but the birds in my area eat them all. Can I start the chia in a container first?

Bertiebeetle 5 months ago

Is it true that chia needs to be grown in latitudes less than 20 degrees to maximise the Omega 3 benefits of the plant??

Mary Coles 6 months ago

Absolutely fantastic article! Thank you very much. It has been a great help to me. I have grown 10 plants from seedlings in the Hunter Valley and they are just starting to flower. As chia is a Salvia they also should be pretty easy to propagate from cuttings.

Carolina Castro 6 months ago

Hi, I have chia seeds sprouts and I would like to use them in salads. Where should I cut them and would they comeback for me to continue harvesting them? Also, when the sprouts become plants, can I eat the leaves?

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 6 months ago from Australia Author

Hello, Phebe. There's about 200 comments at the end of this article, so you'll find lots more info about growing chia included in my answers. You'll notice I live in Australia where we don't use 'zones' like you do in the US. As for your other questions, it really is a matter of common sense. The reason why people start growing any plant indoors is to get a head start before the natural growing season begins. So, yes, you'd need to wait until after the last frost to transplant.

One of the numbered points in my article says, 'Add mulch and compost and anything you like to make your garden healthier as your plants grow, but put it on top and let it feed the soil from above.' So it really is up to individual gardeners to use what works best for them.

'Hot' compost is not something I'd be likely to add to any seedlings or small plants. Occasionally plants of various types germinate in compost heaps, but even they need to be moved away. Unless the compost heap is nicely decaying and you're planning on starting a new compost heap elsewhere. Although, to be honest, 'hot' compost won't stay hot when it is spread thinly around any plants in the garden.

Again, common sense must be used when deciding whether or not to take anything from a compost heap that hasn't had time to properly break down. If you have weeds in your compost, you won't want weed seeds germinating and competing with your chia. All in all, chia is easy to plant and harvest, so give it a try. By the end of your first growing season you'll know whether or not you live in an appropriate zone.

Phebe 6 months ago

I voted for "I still have unanswered questions" and those are: What zone are you planting these in? If you have frost, do you need to wait until the last frost to transplant (if you started indoors)? With the compost, are they ok with "hot" compost or piles that have aged a few months? I'll browse through the comments to see if there's anything similar, but those are the two main questions I would like to be able to find without digging.

Otherwise, thank you so much for this article! I was surprised and pleased to see that it seems quite easy to plant and harvest and I definitely want to give it a try.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 6 months ago from Australia Author

Southwestern Pennsylvania is a world away from my garden in Australia. If you have a month until your last frosts, HOGF, I suggest you start growing seedlings in pots. Give yourself a head-start instead of waiting to plant seeds directly in the soil.

Regarding the cold hardiness of chia, it is not a plant that I'd consider particularly cold hardy. Yes, a mature chia plant can survive a period of cold weather. But a week of harsh frosts will definitely kill it. Personally I would never consider planting large quantities of chia in a frost-prone region. I would, however, plant at least a dozen chia plants in different places on the property for one year ... and see how they respond to different microclimates. Plants sheltered may perform well.

Of course, I'd also grow a couple of my chia plants in really big pots that could be moved into a greenhouse or even indoors if necessary at the first hint of frosts. It would be dreadful to watch plants growing beautifully, only to lose them all before harvesting any seeds at all.

How long does chia typically take to reach maturity? That's a bit like asking how long tomatoes take to reach maturity. In some regions, the process seems much faster than others. And a lot will depend on your soil and water supply etc, as well as how long your days are and how much sun the plants receive.

Claudine in the Philippines (another commenter here) has chia plants 4 feet tall after 2 months. But I'm sure many growers in other places would love to have that level of quick growth. I can't predict how long it would take for chia to reach maturity in Pennsylvania, but I'd be very interested to hear how your chia copes in your local climate. So please come back and let us all know if you have success. Good luck.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 6 months ago from Australia Author

Amber, I've not tried growing chia plants in sandy soil. Years ago I lived in Western Australia where the soil is very sandy. I'm trying to imagine if I could have successfully grown chia over there. Here's my thoughts, but remember I'm just guessing.

As well as having very sandy soils, the weather was extremely hot there. If I was to try growing chia in that environment, I'd plant chia in an area that received morning sun but had some shelter from the extremely harsh afternoon sun. Either shade from a tree, or a building. I'd start my plants growing in a pot. (Look at my photo above. You can sprinkle chia seeds in one big pot and then pull them out individually as they grow big enough to plant out.) Then I'd add lots of compost and mulch to the ground around the plants. Don't mulch over the tops of chia seedlings. They're not strong enough to cope.

I don't see much point in trying to add compost into a sandy garden bed. The goodness leaches through sand so quickly. Better, in my opinion, to put the compost on the top. Then keep it well watered. The nutrients should filter down to the roots, and worms will hopefully get to work and improve the quality of the soil.

Good luck. I hope to hear back from you some day with an update about your chia harvest!

HeartOfGoldFarms 6 months ago

Hi LongTimeMother! I've got available acreage to plant, some of which has already been tilled. I'm curious about the cold hardiness of chia. I live in Southwestern Pennsylvania, USA, and we are coming up on our last frost date within a month. I'm wondering when I might try planting outside here. Also, how long does chia typically take to reach maturity/flowering? Thanks!

Amber 6 months ago

Very informative. Now I just need to get my dogs to quit running where I plant the seeds. Hopefully the fence I put in will help, although they can still easily jump it. Does chia need rich soil, or just good drainage? I have very sandy soil, and I'm just wondering how much compost I'll need to add

MsNomatterwhat 6 months ago

I totally agree with lrdl3535!! Can't wait to try. Awesome article - Thanks!

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lrdl3535 7 months ago from California

Great article, I have thought about growing chia. But now your article makes it sound really simple to do. I may try to grow some this year and see what happens.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 7 months ago from Australia Author

When I lived in northern Australia years ago, Claudine, I grew chia plants successfully. The heat there often reached 40 degrees Celsius. Yes, the leaves on my plants would droop in the heat. But water (particularly at the end of the day) revived them.

Just make sure your plants have enough room to keep growing. Expect them to grow six feet tall, and wider than they are now. If you think you have planted them too close together, I suggest you dig some up and move them.

Maybe plant some where they get a bit of shade or shelter and see if they perform better than the ones you leave behind. Trim their branches (about half their current length) when you transplant them, to make it easier for them to settle in to their new place. And water them well.

I believe you should successfully get seeds from your plants. But over-crowding will restrict their performance. If they are seeming too 'weak' to cope with the heat, I'm guessing you have them too close together.

Good luck. Let me know how you go. :)

Claudine 7 months ago

Hello! I would like to say thank you for writing this. Chia seeds are expensive where I am from (the Philippines), and I'm so happy I found this article! My friend was kind enough to give me a few grams of chia and I set aside some of it so I can grow it in my garden. It has been around two months now since I have planted it. They're nearly four feet tall now! However, I noticed that their leaves are drying out :( I water them twice daily and mulch the soil every so often. I'm a bit concerned if the weather is killing it because it's almost summer time and it's been very hot lately, almost 40 degrees Celsius! Is that too hot of a weather for the chia plant to grow? I feel so helpless now 'cause I'm so excited to start harvesting them.

Thank you again!

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LongTimeMother 7 months ago from Australia Author

I don't know why you would be blowing your seeds, Johrob1. That's how most people lose their seeds. If you follow my instructions, you will get clean chia seeds without losing any seeds at all.

Please go back and look again. As I explained, cleaning chia seeds is so easy a child can do it. :) Look at my photos of the kids cleaning the seeds. Use your flat hand, the way they did. And then use a sieve. As you can see in the photos, all the crushed debris falls out the bottom ~ leaving only clean chia seeds.

Perhaps you haven't waited long enough for the flowers to be properly dry, and the debris to be brittle enough. Please try again and let me know how you go.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 7 months ago from Australia Author

Hello, Maxime. I have visited France, but never for long enough to become familiar with your seasons. I suggest the only way to find out if chia will grow in your part of France is to try. Plant seeds early in spring and see how you go. Good luck!

Johrob1 7 months ago

I have been growing chia for 2 seasons now, I have harvested like you said but have found there is still bits of flower head in with the seeds, I tried blowing them off but it seems I loose some seed as well. The bought chia seeds don't have debri in it, so how do you get rid of it

maxime chameau 7 months ago

Hello, I am a beekeeper in France, is it possible to cultivate of it chia in my outdoor country and to be able to harvest seeds?

Thank you

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Capernius1 8 months ago from EARTH

Nice read....very educational, I loved it!

TY For sharing this! :-)

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 8 months ago from Australia Author

Weather extremes are hard to predict, Derek. However if Sydney has a mild winter (the kind they used to have), your plants should survive it. They certainly won't have time to flower and seed this season, but should be good to go in the next warm one. :)

To be safe, I suggest you pot up a couple of your seedlings and keep them in a protected area. If you get a really cold snap, bring them indoors and make sure they get occasional sunshine, and water.

Good luck. I look forward to hearing of your success later this year. :)

Derek Evans 8 months ago

Hi There, great Hub, my wife and I have just started to give a shot at growing our own Chia, long time eaters, we had a fair bit of trouble sourcing decent seeds but we now have about 40 seedlings, we are in Sydney do you think we have left it a bit late in the year to expect them to reach maturity? Will they last through the Winter and flower next year?

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LongTimeMother 9 months ago from Australia Author

If you struggle to grow tomatoes, Christine, you'll have no hope of growing chia plants to maturity. You could, however, sprout some seeds and eat them as greens in your salads. :)

Christine Beresford 9 months ago

Do you think they will grow here in the UK , our weather is usually rubbish from one season to another ,last year through the whole of summer we only had 4 really hot sunny days , the rest was warm but raining . I had problems growing my tomatoes and my attempt at bell peppers was totally ruined even though they were in a little greenhouse .

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LongTimeMother 9 months ago from Australia Author

I don't like your chances when it comes to seeds this year, Fiona. But it certainly makes sense to start growing some plants. At least you'll get an idea of which areas in your garden are chia-friendly. Your chickens will enjoy the leaves.

Fiona 9 months ago

How long is the growing season, I live in Melbourne it is mid summer and I am unlikely to get frost until Late June or July is there any chance of it flowering this season. I'm going to plant them anyway and feed some of the excess plants to the chickens but it would be good to know if it is worth keeping some in the ground if there is a chance of them flowering. Next year I know thanks to your article to start them in Spring.

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LongTimeMother 9 months ago from Australia Author

Hello Erik. I've successfully grown chia where the day length is over 13 hours. Others who have left comments here also grow chia where the days are long in summer.

The best way to find out if you'll get seeds between first flowering and first frosts is to give it a try. No doubt there will be others in the future who could benefit from your experience, so if you think of it please come back and give us an update at the end of your growing season.

Good luck. :)

Erik 9 months ago

Hi, great article. I'm going to try growing chia in my garden this year, but I think I'm at the edge of its viable growing zone. How long does it typically take the plants to go from starting to flower to being ready to harvest? According to what I read about it, normal chia won't flower if the day length is over about 13 hours. At my latitude, that means I have about a month between starting to flower and typical first frost. Is that long enough to expect to get some seeds?

I also read that there has been some work to breed a variety that's not as sensitive to day length that should be viable in more temperate climates. They're growing it in Kentucky, USA right now and say it should be on store shelves in just a few years if it's successful. So for those of us who are too far from the equator, this is pretty good news.

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LongTimeMother 9 months ago from Australia Author

I have never paid attention to how many grams each chia plant produces, Louise. Why not just start with two plants, give them plenty of space and adequate water, and see how you go?

Louise 9 months ago

How many grams does one plant produce, just wondering how many plants one would need...?

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LongTimeMother 10 months ago from Australia Author

Hello, P. I've not used the leaves in any dishes. However, traditionally they were eaten as a food so I guess they might be useful in a vegetarian lasagne or a stir-fry. :)

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P FOR PEONY 10 months ago

Hi LTM! Thank you for this hub, jam packed with information! I see that you mention baking the chia seeds in a bread and eating the sprouts. What about the leaves in a mature chia plant? Can they be cooked any other way in a dish?

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LongTimeMother 11 months ago from Australia Author

Transplant them to the ground, Michelle. Dig the earth to loosen it so the chia's roots can settle in and keep growing with ease. Separate the plants to give each one plenty of room to grow. Read my article again so you know what to expect, and all the comments for extra hints.

If you live in a particularly windy area, you'd do well to choose a protected spot in your garden. Good luck.

Michelle 11 months ago

Hello LongTimeMother, I am growing chia seeds as my first plant ever. There are 5 stalks and are almost 2 months old now, about 5 inches in height. I grow them in a pot. I was wondering when do I do a transplant and where do I transplant them to? To a bigger pot or straight to the ground? I am not sure if they are strong enough to go to the ground as 1 chia plant broke the other day due to some wind.

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Kristen Howe 12 months ago from Northeast Ohio

okay it was just a thought. I do have a table to place my flower pots on. I'll take to my neighbor about it next year.

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LongTimeMother 12 months ago from Australia Author

Hi Kristen, my only concern about growing chia on high balconies is the possibility of the structure not being strong enough to hold the extra weight of the potted plant. If you are absolutely confident the balcony is strong and capable of holding the weight without any danger to anyone living below (who may be outside if it collapses), then you could give it a try.

I don't know how many bees are likely to make it to the 5th floor to pollinate your chia flowers. The 2nd floor might be better. :)

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Kristen Howe 12 months ago from Northeast Ohio

LMT, thanks for letting me know. Just wondering. I live on the 5th floor. I do know someone on the 2nd floor. Would that work? I'll keep it in mind for next spring.

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LongTimeMother 12 months ago from Australia Author

Chia can be grown in pots, Kristen, but you need really big pots. Imagine an adult standing in a pot. That's how big each chia plant can grow. Unless you're on the ground floor, I'd be a little worried about the weight of the pot. Particularly after rain when the wet soil becomes even heavier.

Sadly, I suspect chia might not be appropriate for growing in an apartment setting. Maybe you have a friend with a garden who wouldn't mind you planting some chia ...

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Kristen Howe 12 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Great hub, LMT. I've had chia seeds in salad kits and chia tea. Can you grow chia in a container plant for your patio? I would love to do that, since I live in an apartment.

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LongTimeMother 12 months ago from Australia Author

I'm guessing they reach a stage in their development when flowers form. I've grown them in a variety of climates. They definitely perform better in regions with long summers, short winters. I've occasionally had frosts take out my beautiful flowering chia where I currently live. I've made a mental note to try trimming some of my chia plants during this growing season to see if I can force flowering earlier.

Good luck with yours.

alexdawson79 12 months ago

Thank you for your answer, I still hope they'll start flowering. Do you know by chance when chia plants are supposed to flower. Is it when temperature drops and when days get shorter? or do they have an inbuilt life clock? I can't seem to find an answer anywhere... Thanks again

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LongTimeMother 12 months ago from Australia Author

Do you have any government agencies that could help you identify the plant, phatkhat? They should know if it is chia - and if not, then what? We have a range of depts over here where people can wander in with a plant in hand and ask for help.

I can tell you another way Australians find answers to questions like yours. I've seen photos printed on paper above the question 'Does anyone know what plant this is?' and a phone number ... once stuck on a noticeboard in the supermarket, and once stuck in the glass door of a newsagency.

I knew the answer to the one in the supermarket!

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LongTimeMother 12 months ago from Australia Author

I don't like your chances of flowers, alex, if your days are cooling down quickly. That's disappointing. It sounds as though your growing season may be too short. You could try starting your plants earlier next year, in pots indoors. But I'm not sure that would help much if you only have a short summer. Perhaps if you grew one or two plants in pots all season, ready to bring them under cover when your cold sets in ... and perhaps even trim them (as one of the other commenters here did) to make each plant more compact, and bring on flowers. That might work.

Any chance you could dig a couple up now, pot them, trim them, and bring them in from the cold?

phatkhat 13 months ago

Thanks for the pic of the stem of the plant. Mine have the same sort of shape, but have a bit of purple to them, also they are hairy. It is the end of summer here, and they are blooming. My blooms look the same but are purple, not blue. If it isn't chia, it must be a relative!

The dry seed heads have the same pungent aroma as the leaves, only stronger. I love to rub them between my hands and inhale! Wonderful scent.

The plant is everywhere here on our place, but doesn't appear to be a native plant, as I can't find it in Arkansas wild plant guides. I also haven't seen it growing anywhere else around the area. Hmmm. This is a great mystery!

alexdawson79 13 months ago

I live in south Switzerland, I've planted some chia plants in the spring, Now, September 24, days are cooling down fast and there is still no sign of a flower. The plants are getting very tall almost 2 meters. My question is will they ever flower? Apparently they should have already flowered...

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LongTimeMother 13 months ago from Australia Author

TR, if you can't get your bulk store chia seeds to sprout, there must be something wrong with them. Buy a fresh pack of organic chia seeds, just a small one, and plant the way I described in this article.

Grow your own chia plants, harvest your own chia seeds, and you won't need to buy any more from the bulk store ever again. Good luck!

T R 13 months ago

I love chia seeds, but I can't get my bulk store chia seeds to even sprout. Can you imagine that they would be treated to not sprout? As we have city water, I've used purified or bottled water. I've tried them in the unbroken half of a Romertopf clay pot and on paper towels. I've read your article, but not all of the comments yet. We are in the Southern California high desert and could grow them inside or out. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and especially the time lapse.

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LongTimeMother 14 months ago from Australia Author

Sher singh, if you tell me where you live and what your local conditions are, I can offer an opinion. A long summer is a definite plus.

Avajes, I always remove previous plants ... but once you've successfully grown one chia plant, you have plenty of seeds to plant the next year. :)

Avajes 14 months ago

Hey! This is a great article and it's really helpful. I was just wondering, are chia plants seasonal, or do they continue to grow and flower for a few years? Thanks! :)

Sher singh 14 months ago

Very nice.

What type of environment the chia plant need. What temperature they require.

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LongTimeMother 15 months ago from Australia Author

Toni, thanks for drawing my attention to all the success stories here. I try to answer everyone's questions but I hadn't noticed just how many people are excitedly growing and harvesting their own chia.

I wish you every success and look forward to hearing how your chia grows.

Oh, and perhaps when your leaves are a little bigger you might come back and answer phatkhat's question about if they have an anise-y mint smell. (A couple of comments above yours.) For those of us in Australia, it is winter now.

Thanks also to john ki for your feedback. Like you, I can't recall the smell of the fresh leaves. Maybe that's because I grow so many strong-smelling herbs in my gardens ... or perhaps I'm just not very observant. lol.

Toni 15 months ago

Nice hub! I got some chia seeds a few weeks back. I was using them to make smoothies until it dawned on me that I should try planting some. I put a small amount in a pot on wednesday and by Friday I had little shoots coming up. Came across your hub lastnight and I am excited to read all the success stories. Can't wait to have my own! I have gotten a lot of useful tips here, thanks a bunch.

john kl 15 months ago

Sorry, all my fresh leaves are gone too. I have My drying pods..Hard to describe the smell though..

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LongTimeMother 15 months ago from Australia Author

Hello phatkat. Recent frosts killed any leaves remaining on my chia plants, so I can't run out to the garden and smell fresh leaves. I'm not sure whether john ki or another reader might be able to answer your question.

The best I can offer to help you identify your plants is a photo of the stalk of a fully grown plant. I will edit this hub and add it so you can see the very distinctive shape. If your plants don't have this type of stalk, I'd suggest they are probably not chia. If they do, you might be in luck. The next test, if they do have the stalk, is to collect some seeds and see if they behave like chia seeds.

When you put chia seeds in water, they swell and become gelatinous (soft and kind of sticky). That would be another clue.

phatkhat 15 months ago

What do the fresh leaves smell like on a mature plant? I have something that looks like this growing everywhere. The stuff I have has a kind of anise-y mint smell.

john kl 15 months ago

Yeah, I think I will wait a bit longer for them to dry ..The ones that are dried properly are much easier to collect the seeds. And I can already kind of tell which ones will have more seeds in them. so that's cool. I already want to start growing some more but I think it's a bit cold in Melbourne..

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LongTimeMother 15 months ago from Australia Author

Phew, John. You had me worried for a while there. If you'd failed to harvest seeds in your second year, you might not have tried growing chia a third time - and that would have been very sad. Obviously you have the right soil, climate etc. The only missing factor was your timing ... but you'll be on top of it next year, I'm sure!

Please take note of the pods that are providing you with the most seeds. You'll need to recognise them next time. Do they still have a few petals on them? Are they still sealed shut? Make a mental note of what you are looking for next year. Brown and drying while still in the garden is not a good look if you want to collect seeds. :)

Here's another tip for you. If it is taking you 'forever' to collect the seeds, just wait for another week or so. They might not be quite ready to separate easily. When the time is right, it becomes surprisingly easy. Keep them in your bags, and shake the bags roughly every day or so. As they get really dry, you can lay the bag flat and press it with your hand if you want. That should help pop some pods and release more seeds.

If you are happy now, just imagine how delighted you'll be to discover a pile of seeds when you next empty your bags!

Oh, and do you have a nice big sieve waiting for when you want to clean them of any debris? You'll be needing that! Happy news, indeed. Congratulations ... and thanks for coming back to update me with your news. :)

john kl 15 months ago

Well, Good news . Some pods have a lot of seeds..bad news It's taking me forever to collect the seeds..haha. But I'm just happy to see them. Thanks again

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LongTimeMother 15 months ago from Australia Author

You're welcome, John. I trust you are using paper bags, not plastic.

Keep an eye on the pods each day when you shake them. I generally leave mine for a few weeks to dry before removing the seeds - but that's because there's so many other things keeping me busy at that time of year. lol.

Forget about your dehydrator for this process. I also have a dehydrator, but never use it for chia seeds. The paper bags hanging in a warm spot will do the job nicely. Crush a pod in your fingers now and then. That's the way to tell when they're really dry.

I'm looking forward to hearing good news from you when you've collected some seed. :)

John kl 15 months ago

Thanks so much for the fast response. Okay, so I have collected all the plant heads in bags..There are quite a lot at various stages so hopefully I get a few seeds.. So do you know how long they will take to dry in the bags..Days?Weeks? I also have a dehydrator but I probably should just try the bag method of drying. Thanks again

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LongTimeMother 15 months ago from Australia Author

Oh, goodness, John. Get out in your garden quickly and collect your flower heads. I wrote in my instructions, "If you wait until the flower head browns, you risk losing seed. Begin harvesting your chia as soon as most of the petals have fallen." I think this is your mistake. Your seeds are probably falling to the ground.

Don't let the flower heads dry in the garden ... quickly collect some of your other seed heads - those with a few petals still remaining - and put them in bags to dry.

Are you picking your dry/nearly dry seed heads with the bag beneath them to catch falling seeds? Remember, I said "If your seed heads are very dry and the seed is difficult to catch, try cutting the whole head off with scissors. The falling seeds will land in the bag." If you try snapping the plant and then putting the flower heads into a bag, there's every chance you're dropping your seeds in the process. Or perhaps your seed heads are so brown and dry that the seeds have blown away in a breeze (or just fallen if they're facing down.)

Oh, I hope you still have seed-laden flower heads to collect. You've done so well if your plants grew tall and strong ... and flowered. Be quick now. Get outside with some big bags and collect every seed head you can reach. Start with the ones with only a few petals remaining, and the pods still closed.

Don't pack them too tightly in the bags. Make sure there's enough room for air to circulate in the bag, and shake the bag every day to reposition the pods so they don't remain 'clumped' in the same spot. You'll find quite a lot of seeds may fall to the bottom of the bag. The other seeds will have to be released the way I explained, by rubbing and crushing after the seed heads dry in the bags.

Take a look at my photo beneath the heading 'Ready for Harvest'. Within each of those closed pods are the seeds.

Good luck! Let me know how you go. :)

john kl 16 months ago

Hi, So my plants got pretty tall and have had nice big purple flowers.Pretty much like yours. They have been slowly browning/drying out over the last 2 weeks still out in the garden..I have been taking a few off and letting them dry in bags but there are no seeds anywhere..Just empty pods.. I think the same thing happened last time I tried to grow them..No seeds ..What am I doing wrong?

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LongTimeMother 17 months ago from Australia Author

It is chia harvesting time again in my part of the world. I have bags of dried seed heads waiting for attention.

Thanks for your comment. Enjoy your chia!

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mecheshier 17 months ago

What a fabulous Hub! I started growing chia love this amazing plant! Thanks for sharing!

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LongTimeMother 18 months ago from Australia Author

If you have room in your garden for growing a couple of chia plants, csmiravite-blogs, you won't be disappointed. I have heard of people who successfully grow chia in the Philippines. I look forward to hearing from you when you harvest your first seeds! Thanks for your comment. :)

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LongTimeMother 18 months ago from Australia Author

My visits to Canada have been very short, Olivia, and I am yet to visit the north. I can't recall any feedback from Canadians about growing chia, so I'm just guessing. However, I do suspect your warm season would be too short and your winters too harsh for growing chia outdoors.

What you might manage (and again, I'm just guessing here) would be starting a chia plant in a large pot in spring, leaving it outdoors throughout summer, bringing it indoors for winter (if you have central heating a sunny window), and then moving it outdoors again when the next warm season begins. If you were to lightly prune the top of the plant, it might flower and seed before the end of the second summer.

Now that sounds like a pretty tough task ... but if you want to try it, please keep me posted with progress reports. :)

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csmiravite-blogs 18 months ago from Philippines

I see this plant in many homes, but didn't realize that it's a chia plant. They grow abundantly in my side of the world and we never knew that we can use them for tea and as food additive. Great hub!

Olivia 18 months ago

Thank you for this wonderful article! I have a question, can one grow chia seeds in Canada? It is finally warmer here in our springtime, but will they die every winter? I could probably keep planting new plants every spring when it is warmer here, but I'm wondering if they can sustain colder temperatures in our drastic winters up north. Thank you!

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LongTimeMother 18 months ago from Australia Author

Hello mecheshier. When I wrote this hub to encourage others to try growing their own chia, a friend of mine who buys all her food in packets, thought I was mad. She insisted I'd be the only one with any interest in growing organic chia.

I'm just about to send her an email ... and I'll be sure to mention I've just met another chia grower! lol. Thanks for your feedback. :)

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mecheshier 18 months ago

I love this Hub. Very informative and useful. I started growing Chia 2 summers ago. What a fabulous plant! Thanks for the info! :-)

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LongTimeMother 18 months ago from Australia Author

Hello Manolo. Thanks for writing to me. I am happy to hear your chia is doing well in Brazil.

Good luck with your harvest!

Manolo Villarreal 18 months ago

Great article! Is helping us so much down here in Brazil. And the plants are flowering and just waiting the right moment to harvest.

I like the advice of not hanging the plant upside down the shed. It sound like if we were drying something else in the shed, but chia just don't work that way hahahah!

Cool man! Thanks!

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LongTimeMother 18 months ago from Australia Author

Hello Peter. It is years since I wrote this page and I'm using a different computer these days so I no longer have things bookmarked here. Sorry I can't help you.

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LongTimeMother 18 months ago from Australia Author

Hello Sherridan. They will probably stay alive through a Sunshine Coast winter; you'll just have to be patient until they eventually flower and form seeds.

You'll need to thin the 'carpet' though because they need plenty of room to grow. I suggest you start eating some. If you let some grow longer, you could harvest and dry their leaves for using in tea before pulling out the excess plants.

However you will definitely have to get rid of (or move) many of your seedlings if you want to develop big, strong chia plants with plenty of seeds. They don't like being crowded. :)

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LongTimeMother 18 months ago from Australia Author

Hello Chenkar. A pot 2ft in diameter would successfully accommodate one chia plant (as long as the pot is deep) - maybe two. Any more than that and you're likely to have problems as they grow. You'll be surprised how big they get.

There's no need for a trellis. They grow tall and strong without any support. Maybe plant a few in your garden on the farm as well. Plant them in a sheltered position, give them some mulch and see what happens. You might get lucky with natural rainfall.

Good luck.

Peter 18 months ago

Hi, Can you please cite the source for your comment: "University research has revealed that one tablespoon of chia seed could reasonably be expected to sustain a person working hard enough to work up a sweat, for 24 hours."

I would be very interested to read about more about this aspect. Thank you!

Sherridan 18 months ago

Hi there,

On a whim I planted a handful of chia seeds before Easter, they have since sprouted and I have a beautiful carpet of them. I now realise however that they are best grown in spring/ summer. I am on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, so hopefully it will stay warm enough for them, otherwise I should probably eat them now in a salad

Chenkar 19 months ago

Hey LTM, i was wondering if it would be possible to grow a 'bed' of chia in a fair size (like 2 ft diameter) pot and use a trelis or something to hold the plants up. I'd love to grow some this season, but unfortunately our yard in a city doesn't have space for a garden. And the garden we use is on a farm an hour away, so maintenance/harvest will be hard. Thanks for putting this article up. Will definitely bookmark it to check your answer.

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LongTimeMother 19 months ago from Australia Author

Yes, you can indeed grow chia in a container but it would need to be a large container because one single plant can grow to the size of a large bush / small tree. Just buy some organic chia seeds from a health food store, or use one of the links I provided to amazon. Good luck. :)

dmmiddleton22 19 months ago

Can I grow chia in a container and where do I buy good seeds for planting?

Absolutely loved your article!!

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LongTimeMother 21 months ago from Australia Author

Hello Paleo,

It seems you have fallen victim to the marketing strategy of one specific chia seed company that is currently trying to convince consumers they should only buy black or white chia seeds. (Either that or you work for them ... and your comment here is intended to alarm folk who successfully grow their own chia seeds.)

Either way, you are wrong to say that only black and white seeds are suitable for consumption. Anyone who looks at the history of chia - and the opinions of researchers and specialists - knows that chia seeds grow in various shades of brown, gray, black or white.

Of course if you have evidence the rest of the world is unaware of, feel free to point me in its direction.

Meanwhile, I have added a little to my original article that addresses the issue of black and white vs brown chia seeds. I don't want my readers to be influenced by a marketing strategy that is not based on fact.

PS Paleo: The hands in the photos (and the hand holding the sifter) belonged to children aged 5 and 6. Because the seed heads they were playing with were not the biggest and best in the crop there's a good chance some of them were less mature than others - but that cannot be identified by simply saying 'they are brown'. Fully mature and nutritional seeds can also be 'brown'.

The kids' seeds repeatedly ended up on the floor and had to be retrieved so we were never going to eat them. However, we did store the seeds they harvested - and the kids and I planted them again the next year.

They grew ... so there clearly wasn't much wrong with them. :)

I suggest you do some real research before spreading your misinformation. Unless of course you're being paid as a marketing assistant ... in which case you are unlikely to care about the facts. It is sad if you are deliberately spreading a marketing strategy. You're certainly not doing the world any favors.

Paleo 21 months ago

Hi there. Thanks for the great article. I do note that there are a lot of brown seeds in your sifter however. Only the black and white chia seeds are suitable for consumption. Brown seeds are immature and do not contain the health benefits associated with black and white chia. There's a bit of literature online about it if you google.

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LongTimeMother 22 months ago from Australia Author

Hi Aimee. Congratulations on a successful harvest. Do you have a sifter like the one in my photo? If not, you probably need one. If you have seed husk 'dust' you should be able to shake it out like in my photo.

I clean the vast majority of my seeds but I don't waste effort on the ones I keep for planting the next year. They just get stored, then tossed into the garden along with the debris.

Lots of people recommend 'blowing' chia seeds clean. I don't know why. It is such a hassle - and so easy to blow your seeds away as well. Grab a metal sifter and shake and toss them. You can be quite rough with the chia if your sifter is big enough and you haven't over-filled it.

Have another go at cleaning your seeds. It would be a shame to waste your fresh, home-grown chia.

Aimee Harper 22 months ago

Hi, I successfully grew chia last season. I've tried the crush/roll technique you talked about but ended up with quite a bit of seed husk 'dust' that I just can't seem to separate from the seed and it tastes horrible so I sort of gave up and most of the seed heads are still just waiting to be sorted. Do you 'clean' seed like you would buy or have you still got a bit of debri with your seed?

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LongTimeMother 23 months ago from Australia Author

Nice to know you can successfully grow chia, jacqui54. All you need to do now is master the harvesting time. I hope my photos and info here help you. :)

jacqui54 Wagga Wagga Australia 23 months ago

We grew an absolute hedge of chia by just spreading seeds we'd bought for food, on an area of good soil (hard to find on our rock clay slope). They grew and grew close to two meters in height before starting to flower. We didn't know when to harvest, and were waiting for the seeds to dry and in a couple of days, seeds, and leaves were consumed by birds. We tried to protect some, but in the end left it to the birds...

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LongTimeMother 23 months ago from Australia Author

Hi Jildy. I'd let them flower and harvest the seeds. Perhaps your soil is just so nutritious and tasty they can't be bothered growing any taller. :)

I think you'll have plenty of time to plant more seeds now and harvest another crop in your climate. This time maybe plant some of the seeds you eat, and see if you get a different result.

Hope you find the packet, just out of interest. Thanks for the updates.

Jildy 23 months ago

My plants look like yours although a lot more compact and bushier. I would send a pic if I knew how lol. Have misplaced packet but will have a more thorough look and find out for sure. Some of my leaves are hand sized

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LongTimeMother 23 months ago from Australia Author

Hello Jildy. Does the packet you bought from Bunnings give you a botanical name? And are the leaves the same as the plants in my photos ... or is it more like the plants in the video (a different type of chia)?

I am very surprised to hear your plants took only two or three months to flower. And their lack of height does seem very puzzling. Mine grow taller than me. Have you planted them extremely close together? I know when I leave mine very close together they don't grow very tall ... but I have never left them long enough to flower. I occasionally grow a 'carpet' of chia to keep down weeds - and then feed the plants to my hens and use some as mulch for other plants.

Gee, this is fascinating. Can't wait to hear your future updates. :)

Jildy 23 months ago

Hi I am in South East Queensland, our weather here is fairly mild to hot most of the year. I planted chia about 2-3 months ago. The plants are lush and green but are only about 2 foot high. The soil is very rich in organic mulch and compost. I have noticed small purple flowers starting to form so I tipped the plants to. Encourage denser growth, the plants are becoming denser but not gaining height. I am thinking perhaps they will not grow any taller considering they have started to flower. I bought my seed from Bunnings, they looked smaller than the ones I normally eat. In retrospect I don't know why I didn't think to plant the latter. Lol I saw the seeds in the garden section and thought wow I must try this. Any information would be appreciated please

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LongTimeMother 23 months ago from Australia Author

If you are growing quinoa, you'll love growing chia! Good luck, Wendy.

WendyWoo 24 months ago

Hi, I'm on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia and got quinoa about knee high. Someone asked was I growing chia and that's when I found you. Just went and put some seeds in a pot. Thank you for your I for

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LongTimeMother 24 months ago from Australia Author

lol. Good things are worth waiting for, Joelle. If yours are just flowering now, you still have a while to go before the seeds are fully formed. :)

Joelle 24 months ago

I was so excited to have chia growing in my garden. Little did I know that it would take them 5 months to even start looking like they were going to produce a flower. =/

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LongTimeMother 24 months ago from Australia Author

Hello Rusty. If you already eat them, it makes sense to try growing them. Toss a few in a pot of soil to get them going, and look for a spot in your garden in springtime. Good luck. :)

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Rusty Quill 2 years ago

Great article, I had read chia seeds were used a lot by the Aztecs since they are great for energy and stamina boosting. They are sure a fascinating plant. I haven't tried growing them myself yet but I like using them in pancakes. :) Makes them nice and fluffy!

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello Christianna. I would love to see you successfully harvest your chia but I have only been to Seattle once so I am not the person to give the best advice about your climate. I'll give you a few thoughts in the hope they help.

I'm not sure why you say 'besides thinning'. I hope that means you have plenty of room around each plant. If not, you really should pull some out and make some space. (Better to harvest from a few than watch them all fail in the frost.)

To my mind they should be taller than they are. Dig a few up and plant them elsewhere in your garden. Plant a couple in big tubs so you can move them indoors/ out of the frost if they are flowering but haven't dropped their petals and formed hard seeds in time. And perhaps tip prune a few of the others and see what happens.

If you can harvest from just one plant, that will be a win ... and teach you what you need to know in time for next year. Good luck.

Christianna 2 years ago

Hello! This is an awesome website!! I sprinkled chia and flax seeds in early spring and wow! Both are coming up nicely. Flax are forming seeds after flowering. Chia are nice and big, leaves are almost the size of my palm. However, the chia plant is only a foot in height. I'm feeling discouraged that they will never get far enough along to flower by late October, about the first frost. That does give 2+months. But I'm in Seattle and thinking it might be too temperate here. If you have any suggestions to get it going to seed more quickly, besides thinning, I would love to know any more tips! Singing to it daily... Lol, just kidding. Thanks so much!!!

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello Chev. Don't worry that the seeds are packed for food consumption. It's the same all over the world. When you open your packet, eat some and plant some. :)

Chev 2 years ago


I'm getting interested in growing chia here in the philippines?

Not just for my family but for other people as well.

Is there any way I can ask for chia seeds for free?

Chia packaging here is food consumption only.


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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Michelle. I live in Australia where we don't have zones for gardening. :)

Because there are so many seeds in a chia pack, you can afford to experiment in your part of the world. Why not put a few seeds in a pot in your greenhouse, plus a few in the ground? Keep notes. Plant a few more at different intervals and see how they go.

You'll have a much better understanding of what to expect and what the best time to plant is before the following season. It will be important to watch both ends of the process, ie successful germination plus successful harvesting. Good luck. :)

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Michelle Ascani 2 years ago from Deep in the Heart of Texas

Ok, this is a great article. Can you tell me when I should plant my seeds? I live in Zone 8, but I do have a greenhouse. I wasn't sure if I needed to wait until the spring, or if it was something I could do in the next few weeks. Also wasn't sure if I should put them in the ground or in the greenhouse.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello denisse. I have never paid attention to how many seeds I get from one plant. I noticed that Sue wrote earlier saying she harvested more than a hundred long flower heads from her single plant. To be honest, I've never paid attention to how many seeds I get from each flower head either. I grow lots of plants, harvest the heads when the flowers are gone and the seeds are firm, then remove the seeds.

Maybe another reader might jump in with the answer to your question. :)

denisse 2 years ago

about how many oz do you get of seeds per plant?

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello Voin. How lovely that my instructions written here in Australia are useful to you in Serbia. Isn't the internet a wonderful thing?

Because garden pests in your part of the world are probably different to mine, I think the best way to find out what is attacking your leaves is to ask a Serbian gardener friend.

Your chia plants are still very young. Once they grow bigger they may outgrow the problem, but you'll need to protect them in these early stages. Can you ask your friends for their advice and show them the leaves?

One thing you will need to plan for in Serbia is protecting the flowering heads from frosts until the seeds have time to fully develop. Are you growing your chia in pots or in the garden? I do hope you will have at least one plant you can bring indoors if necessary when the harvesting time comes and frosts are threatening. So perhaps now, while they are young, you could transplant one into a large pot.

It would be a good idea to do it now, particularly if you think there is a risk of the unknown pest ruining your plants.

Good luck, Voin. Please let us know how you go. :)

Voin 2 years ago

Hi! I am from Serbia and I planted Chia two months ago and they are coming nice (thx to your instructions and warm weather) - 25cm with 5 pairs of leaves. However I noticed a day ago I have holes on some of my leaves. I think it's some tiny pest. How do I protect my Chia from them and are they affected by some diseases or fungus? I could send you pictures if you like.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

That's great news, Sue. I'm imagining just how many flower heads could develop after pruning, lol.

I take it you'll be planting many more chia seeds now that you've experienced the joy of a successful harvest. If your local economy is looking for a boost, perhaps you could interest your local farmers in trying chia production. :)

Sue 2 years ago

Hi just to keep you updated on my chai plant, I harvested my flower heads, pruned back the plant, it has grown and is now in flower again! The joys of growing in southern Queensland!

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Mary, between the original hub and all my answers to comments I think I've already shared about all I know. If you want to try growing it in your area, just toss a handful of seeds in the ground and see what happens. :)

Mary 2 years ago

What temperature range, soil types and mosture does chia need?

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello again, Laurel. I would be surprised if it takes 18 months to produce seeds, but we'd all like to think our local garden centres talk from experience (not just to sound knowledgeable, lol) so they might be right. I've had occasional short visits to NZ but certainly could not be considered an expert on growing anything there. :)

This is actually the perfect time for harvesting chia in the southern hemisphere. I don't think you should be blaming your climate. I suspect your plant has simply outgrown its pot and cannot access the nutrients needed for flowering and developing seeds.

Christine (see comments above) chopped the tops from her chia plants when transplanting them outdoors and, as you'll see when you read her later comment, had great success.

It might be too late this season, but I suggest you try repotting your chia or planting in a frostfree part of your garden, bravely trimming the tops as Christine did, and giving the roots the opportunity to provide the nourishment necessary for the cycle to complete.

Please let me know how you go.

Thanks. :)

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Laurel. I am away and typing via my phone. Give me a few days and I will write more. Thanks.

laurel 2 years ago

Kia Ora Long Time Mother. thanks for an informative and passionate site on chia. I have been using them for about the last six months and was delighted to find a plant in a local garden centre. (I live in Auckland, in a wee seeside village on the west coast). I had the plant outside in a pot which looked happy enough over summer, but as the weather changed it has become sad and losing condition. i have brought it inside, so was looking for info on the ideal growing conditions and temperate. there is a bit in the comments so when i have more time i could search more, however just wondering if i have the plant in the right place, should i bring it inside over winter? will it cope with a prune? i was told by the garden centre it would take 18 months to produce seeds?


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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

I agree with you, Sue. Sounds like a good idea. :)

Sue 2 years ago

Hi yes I only have the one plant, I have harvested 100 plus long flower heads off it, I'm starting to get new flower buds and new growth from the base of the plant, I'm thinking of maybe chopping the plant down a bit and leaving it in the ground to see how it goes.

I'm think this time of year where I live is the best time to grow as the suns not so hot etc

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Sue. I've just had another thought. If you want to try a 'science experiment', (assuming you're as crazy as I am, lol), perhaps you should plant some seeds now and see how they go. Here's what I'm thinking ... Your climate can be blistering hot in summer - and even during spring as I recall. It could be advantageous to give your seedlings time to grow and settle in during the moderate winter months. After all, winter temps in Qld are comparable to spring temperatures where I currentl live.

I'm not sure exactly when your plants would flower, but you might find yourself one step ahead of the rest of us. Worth thinking about. :)

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

lol. In southern Queensland you don't get a real winter, but I suggest you wait until spring anyway. Are you saying you just have one chia plant growing? How many seed heads did you get on that plant? I have never paid attention to exactly how many seeds can be harvested per plant. (Fortunately nobody has ever asked that question yet. Phew.)

I'll be very interested to hear your feedback on just how big your harvest is. How many paper bags (big enough for a sandwich) would it take to hold all your drying/dried seed heads? Before squashing them to remove your seeds. Or have you already started de-seeding them?

Sorry about my enthusiasm, but I love the chance to get feedback from other people. I'm the kind of gardener who just tosses a handful or handfuls of seeds and lets nature take its course. Then when people ask me questions like what's the soil ph and mineral content have to be to guarantee results, I just say 'I don't know'. lol.

Similarly, at harvest time, I just harvest whatever has grown - with no real thought to things like 'how many seeds can you get from one chia plant'. (Didn't even think of it this year. Drat.)

Thanks for continuing the conversation. It is nice to encounter others who have had the fun (and beauty) of chia in their garden. :)

Sue 2 years ago

Thanks so much for your helpful reply.

I didn't go out looking for a chia plant it just came to me, a happy accident! & do I love it, it is very easy to grow, it just took off like a weed, I love the beauty of the plant, I will leave it in place & see what happens, I do intend to grow heaps this coming season.

When do you think would be a good time for me to plant?

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Congratulations, Sue!

You get a bunch of choices with the plant itself. You can feed the plants to your hens. (Just toss them a plant or two each day and see how quickly they eat them.) Put some in your worm farm, feed them to your pigs or cattle (if you have any), add them to your compost ... or just pull them out and drop them on the ground as mulch for the next crop you plant there.

There is one experiment you could conduct since you live in southern Qld. If you have the space and you feel inclined, I'd be interested in hearing what happens next year if you just leave a few plants in place. Chia is always considered an annual, but I'm wondering if in your climate, you just might manage to harvest from the same plant again. :)

I'll bet you're pleased to have successfully grown and harvested your own chia seeds. Would you mind just sharing how easy or difficult you found the process? I get quite a few visitors to this page and I'm sure everyone would like to hear feedback from someone like you ... instead of just me.

Thanks. :) 2 years ago

Hi once you have harvested your seeds do you leave the plant on the ground. I'm just in the process of harvesting my first lot of seeds. I live in southern Queensland

Cheers Sue

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Alan, I am an organic gardener. I don't concern myself with specific ph and mineral testing, preferring instead just to make sure my soil is as healthy as I can get it using manure and compost and natural methods. I have written other hubs about how I garden if you'd like to read them.

If I was you, I'd buy a pack of chia seeds, plant some (and eat some - drinking plenty of water) and see what happens in the garden. Your own experience will teach you a great deal. The following season you can make changes to site choice, soil improvement etc. As long as you haven't eaten all the seeds, you can use more from the same pack to try again. The seeds remain viable for a few years if you store them appropriately.

Good luck.

alan 2 years ago

what vary of chia seed would grow and come to seed in western pa . what they need full nasty sun , or can they produce in half sun or modely sun , can it grow in wlld acid woodland soil , with the experience you have can you answer the soil needs ph and mineral needed to guarantee good results etc ,,

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

You can't really go wrong with chia, Blond Logic. Let me know how it goes. :)

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Blond Logic 2 years ago from Brazil

This is the third time I have read something about Chia seeds this week. I think I am going to give it a try. I live in the north of Brazil and have seen them for sale so will buy a pack soon.

I will be bookmarking this to review from.

Thanks for this. Voted useful and interesting . Also sharing.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello, Lim. I am arranging to have chia seeds sent to you in the Philippines for planting. I'll email you for the best address to post them. (Don't put your address on here though.) I will email you tomorrow with news. :)

Christine 2 years ago

The reason I chopped the top of the plants off was because they were actually dying and I thought that getting rid of the bad bits would give them a fresh start and it worked.

I'm mainly interested in the seeds, so I didn't dry the leaves this time.

I will keep in touch and thank you for your advise. Christine

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Yes, I remember you, Christine. Thank you so much for coming back with your news. I am so pleased that you've been successful!!

That was brave of you to trim the top of your plants. (In theory it should have been fine because I thought you'd have time, but I was too chicken to suggest it to you - which is why I said to remove leaves the other way.) Did you dry the leaves from the bits you removed?

Wait until most of the petals have fallen before trying to harvest. You need to give the seeds time to fully develop, but make sure you have your paper bags ready for harvesting and drying. When the time comes, you'll need to move quickly. :)

My chia is also flowering at the moment. I have conducted a few experiments this year (in terms of density and neglect) and once I've harvested and had a chance to assess the outcome, I'll provide an update in the hub.

You are absolutely correct. They are hardy. I have often told people that chia is pretty hard to kill. Your experience just reinforces that message. lol.

If you get a chance, I'd love to hear how your harvest goes. Thank you!

Christine 2 years ago

Hi, about 7 weeks ago I wrote to you about my chai plants, they were in pots and had stagnated in growth and not flowering. I ended up planting

all of the plants in the sunniest position in my backyard (remember I don't get much sun) They were so pot bound I didn't think any would survive in the pots. I cut about a foot of the top of all plants to give them a new lease on life and besides watering left them alone. To my surprise they started going to seed about 2 weeks ago and now I have flowers. Needless to say, I'm very happy. So the moral to the story is that they are pretty hardy plants after all.

Quoc Trinh 2 years ago

Thanks for your information (LongtimeMother). I am very appreciate for your information. Once again, Thanks for that.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello Quoc Trinh. F1 is hybrid seed, so it has been cross-pollinated. Is there any reason why you are choosing to use hybrid seed? I don't know where you live or how big your farm is, but you could buy organic chia seed online and plant it on your farm. There are a lot of seeds in one packet. From the first plants, you could harvest even more seed (for planting, eating and perhaps selling.) Once you knew you were successful growing and harvesting chia, you could expand.

You say you have tried growing chia and they were very tall and big 'but do not include any seed.' Does this mean your chia plants are still growing? If they are, just wait. They might not yet be ready to flower and seed. They can look like they are doing nothing, and then suddenly flower.

Otherwise, I wonder if you planted your chia too close together in soil that could not support so many plants. As you know, chia does grow very tall. That requires a lot of goodness from the soil. Too many plants too close together can rob you of the flowers and seeds, whether your seeds are hybrid or open-pollinated.

Is this answer helpful to you?

Quoc Trinh 2 years ago

Thanks longtimemother for your useful suggest. What I meant in the previous post is I am finding the seed supplier where I can buy Chia F1 seed to grow in my farm. I have tried to grow Chia plant, they were very tall and big but do not include any seed. Do you think because of OP seed?

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Vlad12345, here's an update for you. You asked how long from planting until harvesting, and I promised I'd pay attention this season. Well, I planted seeds six months ago and my chia plants are now flowering. I live in a temperate climate. It is now autumn/fall. Winter in Australia officially begins in June. I expect to have harvested all my seeds by then.

Hope this helps you. :)

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi phildazz. Thanks for the compliment. :)

Quoc Trinh, I have tried to provide helpful links within the text. I suggest you follow a link and buy from amazon. Amazon posts products internationally.

Quoc Trinh 2 years ago

Hi there,

I just wonder where I can buy Chia seed or plant for grown. Thanks all.

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phildazz 2 years ago from Toronto

Awesome! I'm growing chia this summer. You are the best, thank you!

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Absolutely. I use some of the previous year's seeds to plant the next year. That's one of the great advantages of growing your own produce. I harvest and plant seeds from all my plants. :)

wannabe a good runner 2 years ago

Could chia seeds that you harvest like you said be planted to grow more chia seeds? If not, then how could you grow your own that can be re-planted?

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello, Gold Coast gardener. Chai is a spiced milk tea, so remember to look for 'chia' when buying your seeds. If you end up with a bag of chai, you'll be making lots of lattes. lol.

As for planting chia, even with Gold Coast weather I suspect it is too late this season. Toss a few seeds in the ground if you want, and see what happens but I'm guessing that even if they start growing and survive winter, you're not likely to get any seeds from the plants until next season.

If you do happen to have success out of season though, come back and let us know because it might be useful to others in the future. Thanks. :)

Gold Coast QLD Australia 2 years ago

Can I still plant Chai at this time of year or is it too late now. Is chai an annual or a perennial?

Christine 2 years ago

Thankyou for your advise. I will do what you have suggested and keep your informed of their progress.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Christine. I can't see your plants so I'm working a little blind here, but here's what I suggest.

First, the tub with the five chia plants ...

Pick off lots of your nicest leaves (not the branches), put them in a paper bag, and dry them. Shake the bag every day to let the air circulate around them. Use as many paper bags as you need, but don't stress too much about at least half-filling them (loosely, not packed.) You can use the leaves to make tea.

You can pick up to 50 percent of your leaves. When you transplant your plants, they'll cope better without the additional leaves. Make sure they still have enough to allow nature to work its magic, but we don't want the plants struggling to survive because so much energy is going into maintaining the existing foliage. They need to become strong quickly if you are hoping for seeds this year.

I suggest you plant three of them in your yard. Give them plenty of room (for their roots and their tops), and prepare the earth properly before planting. Don't forget to water them regularly. Remember what I said earlier about chia letting you know when they are thirsty. You certainly don't want to drown them so keep them moist the first week or so ... then keep an eye on the plants and let them remain dry between drinks.

The remaining two I would replant in your (now empty) pot with lots of fresh potting mix, water and care for them. Leave them in the sun where they are now.

Your big problem with this process is being careful not to destroy their root systems. You need to shake them gently to separate the roots. If they are too heavily intertwined, you might have to leave a couple linked as they are and just plant them together, hoping they'll each manage to access enough nutrients to keep them going.

As for your second pot, I suggest at this late stage you just leave them as they are and cross your fingers. You might get lucky. :)

If the others settle in and take off, you could split and replant the final two but I'd hate to hear news that all your chia has died. Perhaps give them some organic fertilizer or water them with diluted worm castings if you have some. I'm tempted to suggest you loosen them from their pot and provide a bed of fresh organic potting mix before carefully replacing them, but I have no idea just how tightly their roots fill the pot. I'll leave you to judge whether or not that's a good idea. :)

A few hours north of Sydney should give you plenty of time for seeds to develop. Don't panic. It may well turn out just fine. Now that you have seen just big each plant grows (given the space), I'm confident you'll be very successful next year. Don't give up on your current plants though, Christine. Nature is remarkable and I am hoping the plants will respond well.

Good luck. Keep me posted. :)

Christine 2 years ago


Thought I'd give it a go because I eat a lot of it and its so expensive to buy.

I live a few hours north of Sydney, is still pretty warm here and we don't really get frosts so I'm hoping the plants still have a chance.

I think the problem is the plants are too cramped. They are in tubs 2ft x 1ft and about 10" deep. There are 5 plants in one and 2 plants in the other. Do you think I should plant them in the ground?

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Christine. So pleased to hear you are growing chia! Obviously you are walking a fine line here in Australia time wise. If you live in Sydney or below, you could be in trouble. I'm hoping you live where it will stay warm for a while yet.

How many plants do you have in each pot? And what size of pot are we talking about? A pot so big you have trouble dragging it around ... the type that could easily accommodate a dwarf orange or apple tree?

Your plants are certainly big enough to give you seeds. Question is how long you have before your first frosts - if in fact you have any frosts. Can you give me a clue about where you live, plus how cramped the plants are at the moment?

Christine from Australia 2 years ago

Hi, I have grown a few plants for the first time and they are about 4 - 5 ft high and still in large tubs. They seem to have stagnated in growth and are seeming to take forever to go to seed. (I also have not picked any tips because I didn't know to do this until I read your post) I think maybe I should have put them in the ground by now but I don't get a lot of sun in my backyard so I kept them in pots. Do you think at this height they are too big to plant out and what if they don't get as much sun. Any advise would be good, I just want to get some seeds off my first plants. Thanks.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

I've never been a commercial grower Enrique. Are you saying that you grow chia commercially? I have certainly grown lovely healthy chia quite close to sea level but I only grow a relatively small number of plants at a time.

Enrique 2 years ago

For chia seed to maintain its health properties, it has to be grown above 800 meters above sea level, as a growers we have tried growing Chia under 600 mt asl with poor results. Any type of Chia that does not belong to Central America mountains is just another seed.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello Mary. I can't tell you how much water you'll need but I can tell you that a chia plant will let you know when it needs a drink. A thirsty chia will wilt and look terribly sad.

When you plant your seeds, remove all the small plants leaving just two or three to grow for the first year. If you are anything like me, it will pain you to pull them out but this gives you the best chance of concentrating available water on a few prized plants.

You'll have to discover how long they take to harvest in your part of the world all by yourself, but I can tell you that once you pick the flowers and seeds, no more will grow in that place. Growing a small number of large chia plants can provide you with a lot of seeds. Good luck.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello toptenhome. Perhaps you could ask your wife if she minds sharing her recipe with us. I am always interested in hearing how people use their chia. :)

mary 2 years ago

I am interested in growing my own chia as I eat 3 TBS or more daily but it is very hard finding information on actually growing it. Your site has been more helpful then anything I have found. I do wonder if you could tell me how much water they take- we cannot harvest rainwater here (isn't that crazy- it's against he law!) so water is an issue. Also we in a short growing period and am wondering how long from seed till harvest- also when you cut the pods off does it keep producing more flowers? Looks like zone 9 and above is ideal which we are not in but with micro climates in the garden I would love to try. Plus I think my bees would love it!!

bee blessed


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toptenhome 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia, USA

My wife loves Chia seeds. She has this drink that she makes that has a bunch of Chia seeds in it.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello Michael. I'd love to answer your question but I don't really understand it. What do you mean by 'grow on orange clay objects'? Could you give me a bit more information please?

Michael Olivarez 2 years ago from Toledo, Ohio

Is it possible to grow tall chias with the type of chia seeds you get and grow on orange clay objects?

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Thank you, velibor. Good luck.

velibor 2 years ago

thanks very much. I will let you and others know how it goes. all the best

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Interesting. I've grown it at about 3,000ft. Don't know about others.

FellowHumanBeing&Citizen 2 years ago

Ive been specializing in higher elevation gardening, and what's best to mass at around 7500ft. (...while following the philosophy that everyone should change the behavior of mowing the lawn.., to gardening.)

I was wondering what the highest known altitude for this plants growth is. Natural or garden-farm.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Mike. I don't hold out much hope for growing chia indoors. Even if you had a large pot, lots of sun, and gave the plant lots of water, you're not likely to have bees around to pollinate. I guess you could try doing it by hand, but I just let the bees do the work. If you do happen to try growing chia indoors, please let me know how you get on. Thanks. :)

mike 2 years ago

Apartment dweller here for now, can we keep them in pots inside?

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello, velibor.

I have never really paid attention to exactly how long each stage takes. I plant the seeds and the chia grows. If you look at my photos above, you'll see the final plant (if uncrowded and allowed enough room to grow freely) can be as tall as an adult.

Grown closer together, they reach about 4 to 5 foot tall.

This size of the leaves can be guessed by looking at the photo of me holding a flowering seed head. There's part of a leaf near my finger in that photo, and full leaves shown in other pics.

All I can tell you is that the early stage seems to be the slow stage. Once they start growing properly, they suddenly spring into action.

Keep watering them. You are right to conduct a test crop first if you want to grow enough to sell. Good luck. :)

velibor 2 years ago


I have planted some organic chia and after 2 weeks it has 4 leafs and is still quite small. Can you please describe to me a normal development of the chia? For example how tall or how many leafs ( and the size of leafs if possible) are after 1 month, after 4 days, after 2 months and so on? I am thinking of planting organic chia, the climate is good, but the soil is of low nutrients type, and arid. I am doing a small test and after 2 weeks the plant is going, but it seems quite small.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello Theophanes. It is springtime here and I have planted more chia. I look forward to hearing how your seed harvest goes next year! :)

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Theophanes 2 years ago from New England

I was adding chia seeds to smoothies and yogurt. I grew some sprouts once out of curiosity by placing some seeds on a wet paper towel inside a plastic sandwich bag, then I sadly realized I had nowhere to transplant them and just ended up eating the sprouts without ever seeing what they would have looked like as a mature plant. Can't wait until next Spring to have a little garden going... this will be on my list!

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Stephanie. I only grow salvia hispanica but in earlier comments we talk about a different type of chia and I give suggestions about starting hispanica in pots and then planting out early. I have lived in various parts of Australia and successfully grown chia in climates ranging from temperate to tropical.

The best way for you to establish whether or not you can grow chia in your region is to buy a packet of seeds (I gave a link in my article) and try planting a small number of seeds a few weeks apart throughout your growing season. Start some in a pot before springtime (to plant out when it is warmer) and then sprinkle a few seeds directly into the garden every few weeks.

Most homes have microclimates so you really need to experiment for yourself to figure out the best place and the best time to plant. If you buy the seeds packaged for eating, you can plant and eat from the same pack. I very much doubt you'd want to grow all the seeds in one packet. If you can get just a dozen chia plants to grow well and flower then seed, you'll be off to a very good start. :)

STEPHANIE 2 years ago

I want to grow chia for seed. I'm in the US, zone 6. It seems that salvia hispanica won't flower here. Do you grow a different variety? Where do you get it? What's you climate like? Where in Australia do you live? Thank you for answering my questions.

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

You can probably grow chia year-round in the tropics. If your sister still has some seeds, try planting them and let me know. :)

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FullOfLoveSites 2 years ago from United States

I've tasted chia seeds brought by my sister (from her trip in Australia) and they're delicious! I included them in my salad. I hope it can also be grown in tropical countries. Interesting and useful hub :)

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LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Deborah. I'm guessing your question was sparked by my mention of not watering except sharing the occasional bucket of water in a long, dry spell.

I don't live in the desert, lol. But I do live off the grid and harvest rainwater for everything. No town water where we live so I have to be very careful with water during a drought. I'm guessing you must be connected to the water mains, yes?

Deborah 3 years ago

Hi, whereabouts in Australia are you? I am in Central Victoria, it gets very hot and dry here over summer, but we have plenty of water.

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Vlad12345. To be honest, I've never really paid much attention to counting the weeks - but I plant in spring time (which is now in Australia where I live) and I harvest in summer. I'm guessing it takes about 5 months. I'll try to remember to pay attention to when I'm harvesting at the end of this season.

Someone else who has grown them in the northern hemisphere might be able to answer this. They've grown theirs more recently than me. lol.

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Vlad12345 3 years ago


How long does it take from seeding to harvesting?

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Kate. I am happy to hear of your success. Thanks for your feedback. It is springtime here in Australia so I am about to plant my next crop of chia. The fun begins again!

Kate 3 years ago

I followed your advice and am having great success. I am back to print the page out for my mother in law. Thank you.

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Milly. That photo is in fact just one plant left to grow with no help from me other than occasionally sharing a bucket of water during a long, dry spell.

I have never concentrated on growing just one plant for the greatest seed yield, but here's what I'd do if I was in your position. I suggest you grow two plants this year, in separate tubs, and let one just grow naturally without tampering with it while you 'play' with the second one.

Because you have a nice long growing season, you're in no real hurry for the seed heads. Therefore you can afford to pick the tips out of new growth occasionally (not all the time, but often enough to encourage even more bushy growth) with the aim of creating as many new double shoots as possible. In theory you might manage to fill in all the 'gaps' you see in my photo and create many more seed heads.

Now bear in mind it is winter here in Australia so I can't run out into my garden and test my theory right now, which is why I suggest you let nature take care of the other plant. :)

You'll know the best approach for the following season based on your results this year.

As for your other seedlings, you can use them fresh or dry them and make chia tea with the leaves. You can also pick and dry leaves from your bigger plants once they are about waist high - with enough left to keep the plant strong, but not wasting the plant's energy sustaining unnecessary leaves. Chia tea is really healthy - particularly if you add a little honey or stevia to sweeten it instead of sugar. :)

Rotate your pots on the patio to make sure both sides of the plant get lots of sun, and make sure they don't dry out too much. Another nice thing about chia is the way they talk to you. If you come home and see the leaves are all droopy and looking like they're about to fall off, the plant is screaming "Water me!!"

It is pretty hard to kill chia - apart from a savage frost - so it sounds like you'll do fine where you are. If you can grow oranges, you can definitely grow chia without any drama at all. :)

Milly 3 years ago

Thanks for your advice! We live in a part of California where the climate is very forgiving but the real estate prices are not. Frost is rare (some years it doesn't happen at all) it just gets rainy in the winter, though I guess I will need to protect the chia from overwatering at that point. Our apartment has a patio that gets a lot of sun, but I doubt we will ever be able to afford a place with a yard.

I read your advice about looking around the neighborhood for unused garden space, but it seems that anyone who can afford a house (even smallish ones are literally in the million dollar range) can also afford to hire gardeners if they don't want to do it themselves. But on the bright side we harvested five oranges this spring from a small potted tree and it looks like the fall crop will be much bigger.

Is the third picture a single plant? It looked like maybe it was a bunch of them growing practically on top of each other. Perhaps I will acquire more pots. I've thought about trying to set up a raised bed, but it seemed like it would be a hassle if we end up having to move.

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Milly. Isn't it exciting to discover that chia is actually easy to grow! You have your seedlings which is the first part taken care of ... but you will need to give the plants room to grow.

If you look at my third photo, you'll see how big one plant can grow. Give it space and good soil and it will easily reach six foot tall and get nice and bushy. To be honest, if I was using a 9 inch pot I would only grow one plant to maturity in it.

Your seedlings should transplant happily to your garden. It is a beautiful plant with lovely flowers so it won't look out of place among your flowers if need be. :)

I have a photo above showing some of my seedlings that germinated in a pot. By the time yours are the size of the larger ones in that photo, they are ready to plant out. Any smaller and they might be struggling.

I always grow a few plants that 'stand alone' and they reach their maximum size. I also grow rows of them in a 'hedge' type arrangement. I plant them about 12 to 18 inches apart, depending on the quality of the soil.

It is better to sacrifice your seedlings and give the growing plants plenty of room if you want to harvest lots of seeds. You need mature plants to grow as fast and strong as possible so they produce seeds before winter frosts arrive. If the plants are too cramped you might find there's no time for seed development.

You're off to a good start. I'll be interested to hear about your successful harvest in a few months time! :)

Milly 3 years ago

How far apart do you need to thin the plants? I planted a bunch because I wasn't sure how many would germinate, but I clearly didn't need to worry. I now have countless little sprouts in a 9 inch pot, but I don't want to pull out more than I need to because my husband and I looooove the seeds.

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Malia and others wondering which chia seeds to buy. I have added the photo I promised. Presumably the company is still packaging the same type of seed, so you should be good to go!

I'm not sure how far into your season you are now, but if you just plant a handful of seeds this year the seed should still viable in another 12 months as long as you seal the packet tightly before storing it. :)

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Keith, I currently live in a temperate area as well. I find that if I plant the seeds early in the season, I can still harvest seed. If you are concerned, you could try germinating your seeds in a pot indoors or under cover before spring takes hold, and then transfer the little plants to your garden.

I still had some of my chia developing seeds after the early frosts. I just draped a white 'frost cloth' over the tops of the plants. They were tall enough by then to have frost damage down on the lower leaves, with the tops still active and seemingly fine.

Otherwise you could try Malia's type. (Still looking for the photo, Malia.) :)

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Marion. I don't slap any plants, but there are lots of plants - particularly herbs - that I leave rooted in the ground when I harvest them. Feverfew, chamomile, fenugreek, fennel ... most of them really.

I have been surprised to learn that many people pull their entire parsley and coriander (maybe called cilantro where you live) from the ground instead of just picking the leaves as they need them.

Malia Hard 3 years ago

Keith, the variety I grew has been blooming over a month now. It is probably not as big a seed producer as the flower heads are much smaller but I have collected seed. It is available through Baker Creek Seeds. Good luck!

Keith 3 years ago

Does your chia bloom during the long days of the year or the shorter days? We can't grow the standard chia in the temperate USA because they don't bloom until it's time for a freeze. Kentucky chia blooms during our summer, but the university that developed it patented the seeds and will only release them to liscenced growers.

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marion langley 3 years ago from The Study

I loved the video...I wonder what other plants have easily harvested seeds that can be "slap" gathered this way leaving the plant rooted in the field.

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks MH. I've googled it ... Wiki says "Salvia columbariae is an annual plant that is commonly called chia, golden chia, and desert chia because its seeds are used in the same manner as Salvia hispanica (chia)". The photos show the seeds look very similar so it might be hard for you to differentiate when choosing seeds to sow.

To help you out, I will go in search of a photo I took of a pack of chia seeds when I was in the US years ago. I brought them home and planted them directly in my garden. If the same company still sells chia seeds you should be okay planting them. :)

Malia Hard 3 years ago

Yes, Salvia columbariae. The seed came from Baker Creek. Interesting looking plant but nasty seed heads!

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Malia Hard. Here's what you're looking for ... Salvia rhyacophila syn Salvia hispanica, Family Lamiaceae.

I have found a link to a pdf file from the University of Kentucky. It shows the same kind of chia as mine.

Do you know what the botanical name is for the chia you have grown before?

Malia Hard 3 years ago

Those things they are thrashing in that video are chia heads. They look like the type I just grew - small lollipop heads stacked on a stick and very stickery. I think I'd rather grow what you are growing. Can you provide the name?

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Here's a reminder for my friends in the Northern Hemisphere ... plant your chia seeds now. :)

There's frost on the ground in the mornings at my house, so I'm thinking your gardens should be nice and warm. Lucky you!!

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Hi mordor. I know lots of people who are happy to put the seeds in juice and drink them, but I prefer to just nibble on them dry and then drink some water. I prefer crunchy to mushy.

I had a call from a friend a short while ago. Apparently there was a Dr Oz episode airing in Australia today that sang the praises of chia seed. The new 'super seed'. Not new in my house, lol.

Thanks for your visit.

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m0rd0r 3 years ago from Sofia, Bulgaria

Very good article. I use Salvia (chia) for tea in winter days.

Even if I know they are healthy - I avoid the seeds because they are too mushy for my taste.

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks, Gail. It's just a short walk from the kitchen to the garden with a handful of seeds. lol!

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Gail Meyers 3 years ago from United States

What a fabulous hub! You just can't beat chia for the numerous benefits. I have been eating chia for while now, but I have not tried to grow it yet. Thanks for the great instructions and information! Voted up, awesome and shared.

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Hi billybuc. Once you've had your last frost for the year, you should be good to go. It is not a precious plant and I've grown it in a variety of climates and different soil types over the years. Yes, the flower head is similar to lavender. Not quite as compact and tight as my lavender here though.

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

lol, cygnetbrown. You'll find these seeds are a little different when sprouting. Nature provides us with all kinds of interesting phenomenon to keep us amused. Let me know how you go. :)

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billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Sheez, I had no idea. I wonder if we could grow it here. The harvesting reminded me of harvesting lavender, which we do in our garden. Thanks for the tips and ideas. We just might try it this year.

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cygnetbrown 3 years ago from Alton, Missouri

You did it again! The other day I saw Chia in the local natural grocery store and wondered how easy it would be to grow. Then yesterday I was sprouting legumes in my kitchen and again I thought about Chia. Now you've written an article. I guess I need to get to know Chia!

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Hello, Richaloe. I think you'll find chia very useful on your allotment. It can fill in any blank patches of earth and then be thinned out, and the excess plants used as a mulch when you're ready to plant other things.

There's a lot written about chia these days. Once your friends hear you're growing it, they'll probably all be asking for a bag of your fresh seeds. :)

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richaloe 3 years ago from Oxford UK

Thank you for this interesting hub. I have never heard of Chia. I use Ginkgo to help with memory.a good tip to use for sore throats.

Here in the North we are waiting for spring seems a long wait. It was still snowing yesterday. I will see where I can get a few seeds and give it a go.

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

I guess this is the right season in the northern hemisphere for this hub. I am waiting to harvest the very last of my seeds this year. :)

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LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks, Jane. You'll be surprised how easy it is to grow. :)

Jane Holmes 3 years ago

A very interesting hub! As much gardening as we've done, we've never considered chia! Well have to give that a try!

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