LTM's extensive organic gardens feature fruit trees, vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, grapes, and berries.
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 the 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.
10 Ways to Use Chia Seeds and Leaves
Chia is very convenient and versatile. Here are 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.
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 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 are some hints to remember:
- Don't clear existing weeds until you are ready to fill the space.
- 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).
- Plant your new seeds in the freshly cleared space without inviting unnecessary competition from deeper weed seeds.
- 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.
Plant and Eat Chia Seeds!
Time Lapse Sequence of Chia Seeds Sprouting
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
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.
My children conduct science experiments with chia, exploring different ways to separate the seed. Below is the fastest method they've come up with.
Crushing Chia Flower Heads
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
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?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: How long does chia take to be harvested? Can I plant in my small garden, or does it have to be large scale?
Answer: In theory you could grow one or two plants. You’ll need a long growing season.
Question: Is chia a perennial plant?
Answer: Chia dies down at the end of the season, so it is an annual. It generally self-seeds easily if you don't collect all of the seeds.
Question: Do they need to be planted in a sunny or shaded area?
Answer: Depends on your climate. If you have relentless sun, provide shade for part of the day.
Question: Is it better to grow chia is shade or sun?
Answer: Chia certainly needs sun, but relentless hot sun wilts leaves, so you need to water them often. I found a good spot in my garden giving morning and midday sun, with shade provided by trees during the afternoon. The first year you grow chia, toss some seeds in different places and see where you get the best results. That’s the spot for the future.
Question: I am having trouble separating the fine debris from the seeds as they fall through the sifter. I have tried a more dense sifter but the debris will not fall through. What gauge sifter do I need to use?
Answer: Congratulations on your successful chia seed harvest! There's a photo of my sifter in the article. I don't know the gauge, but you can compare the holes to the size of the chia seeds. I'm wondering if you've crushed the debris so it becomes fine like in my photo. If not, I suggest you put your harvest back into a bag and roll/crush it again. The chia seeds will survive the process if you've waited long enough for the seeds (and debris) to dry completely.
Question: When is the appropriate season to plant chia seeds? Is it rainy seasons, dry seasons or light showers because I understand chia seeds spoil when they get in touch with water.
Answer: Plant chia seeds in spring. Even if the season is dry, you'll need to water the seeds. I don't know of any plants that germinate and grow without water. The seeds swell and grow when wet.
Question: In a cold country like Scotland, would chia seeds need to be grown in a greenhouse?
Answer: I honestly can't imagine growing chia in Scotland. Your only hope would be one or two chia plants in a very big pot in a greenhouse, but even then I'm not sure you'd have success. If you try it, please let me know the result.
Question: How deep do chia plant roots grow?
Answer: Chia plants can grow taller than a man, so I imagine their roots grow quite deep. Nowhere near as deep as comfrey, but deep enough and extensive enough to require a very big pot if you’re not planting directly into the garden.
Question: How much water do chia plants need?
Answer: Chia plants require regular watering to remain lush and strong. Each plant can potentially grow larger than a football player. Chia plants don't need to be kept moist at all times, but they certainly need a drink at least every few days. When their leaves start to droop a little, water them.
Question: When you drink chia seeds in liquid, do the essential fatty acids get released into your body?
Answer: Adding chia seeds to liquid before drinking them makes it quicker and easier for your body to digest them and access their goodness.
Question: When should chia leaves be harvested for tea?
Answer: When they are healthy and green and there’s an abundance of leaves on your chia plant.
Question: How long does it take for a chia plant to mature and what garden zone can they grow in?
Answer: Chia needs a ‘long’ growing season so apply that concept to wherever you live.
Question: I don’t have a green thumb, but a Chia plant sounds like a great plant to try. Does this plant grow back year after year from the roots? Or does it have to be replanted? Are there any uses for the roots that you’re aware of?
Answer: I’ve always started with seed each year, often self-seeded. Roots and stalks become pig food or compost. I’m not aware of other uses. Please let me know if you successfully grow a second harvest from the same plant.
Question: I do not see any mention of day-length neutral chia for anyone growing outside of a sub-tropical climate. Where do you find chia that can flower and produce seed before frost?
Answer: I suppose this could be achieved through the genetic modification of chia seeds. However, my garden is 100% organic, and I avoid any food that’s genetically modified. I accept that nature creates different foods for different climates. I don’t expect to grow stone fruits in the tropics without frosts or pineapples in a frosty climate. If the climate where I live is ‘borderline,' or if I can create a suitable microclimate, I try all kinds of things and sometimes get lucky. (Citrus is a good example.) But I never seek out genetically modified seeds.
Question: I'm living in a hilly area of Uttarakhand, India at an altitude of approximately 1000 meters, and an average temperature of 0 to 32°C. Can I grow chia here?
Answer: If your temperatures reach 32° Celsius, your climate gets hot enough. But if you are 1000 metres above sea level I suspect you have a longer cold season than your warm growing season. I suggest you toss some chia seeds on the ground early in Spring and see how you go. I don't think you should invest time and effort in actually 'farming' chia until you know for sure your growing season is long enough for the chia to flower and seed.
Question: Do I need soil to grow chia?
Answer: If you want to grow good, strong chia plants and harvest chia seeds at the end of their growth, you'll need plenty of good, nutritious soil to grow them in.
Question: Can I grow chia in a high rainfall climate?
Answer: In theory, yes. I’m not aware of any problem with rain.
© 2013 LongTimeMother
Cliff Ombati on August 03, 2020:
I need market for Chia seeds,cos am readyvto grow 5 to 10 ha.How can link me to ready market locally or internally and not middle men or womaen.
CRYSTAL CARSON on August 01, 2020:
I grow my plants on an in close porch with different types of artificial light, depending on the plant. Which artificial light is best to grow a chia plant and does that change with the size of the plant?
Brooke on July 21, 2020:
What time of the year is the best time to plant chia seeds?
Nadereh on May 27, 2020:
I did enjoy & love it your explanations was very accurate and very helpful thank you
Heidihana on May 16, 2020:
Loved your article! Thank you for all of the useful information. I am about to plant Chia in my yard now. My question is, can I harvest leaves and seeds at the same time? I’d like to use both and don’t want to compromise the plants by harvesting one before the other.
George Ayoma on May 16, 2020:
I live in Uganda, Africa.
I practiced organic growth of chia crop, together with some members of our community. The harvest was good but failed to access market.
We have also discovered that chia crop does well in our tropical climate.
How can we be assisted to access European market and be encouraged to grow more? We definitely have the potential for good production.
How can we be guided on ensuring required quality assurance standards for European market?
Mai on May 01, 2020:
I started growing chia seeds on tissue. When I plant it in my garden, should I pick up each individual sprout? Or will it still grow if I just put the tissue in the ground? I'm not sure how quickly the tissue will degrade or if the roots can grow through it
Kathy on March 01, 2020:
I spilled some chia seeds and threw them into my garden, thinking it would be fun to see what they looked like if they sprouted.
Several months later I am very glad I just read your article as they seem to have all come up, and are still small enough that I can thin them drastically and spread them round my friends.
I would have had a small forest! :)
Naveen on February 22, 2020:
I have planted chia in my 50 acres farm in Rajasthan (India) . The leaves have started turning black from the corners and also the roots are wilting. Please suggest some medicine for this.
Phyllis Darling on February 21, 2020:
what about pests? as I have had something nibbling on my chia plants leaves
firstname.lastname@example.org on January 23, 2020:
Is there a market for chia seeds if I grow them in large scale. Cecilia from Kenya
Debra Searle on January 06, 2020:
I live in the south west of West Australia. My chia plants seem very healthy, But - the lower branches keep falling off. Do you know why? I water them twice a week.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on November 22, 2019:
Hello Elizabeth. I would certainly plant some of your frozen seeds and see if they grow. Perhaps also try putting some in a glass with a little warm water and watch to see if they show signs of germinating.
I don’t know for sure, but I’m thinking you have a good chance of success. Good luck. Let me know the results.
Elizabeth Mueller on November 18, 2019:
I know this article is old, but I was really pleased to see that you're still actively answering questions! I scoured the comments but could not find the question that I need to ask and it is this: I have purchased a container of chia seeds from a health food store, and keep them in the freezer for my milkshakes. Do you know if they will yield vegetation (one, because of where I bought them; two, because I froze them.)?
I can't help but feel as if this is a childish question but I really would like to know. Please forgive my naivety.
I appreciate your time and your reply! Thank you so much. Elizabeth
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on November 17, 2019:
Hi Dolly. Congratulations on your successful chia seed harvest! And thanks for taking the time to share your news with me. Always happy when my articles help!
Dolly on November 16, 2019:
I planted my first plan post reading your piece. It was in January, it is summer in South Africa during that month. It did not take long for my plant to grow and bear seeds. It dried in winter and my parents harvested the seeds for me. I started grown my second plant(s) last month and patiently awaiting to watch the growth.
Your post was of great value!!!
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on August 01, 2019:
Not in my experience. However if you’re concerned about the possibility, I suggest you search the internet with your favourite search engine.
Parus on July 30, 2019:
Can Chia be invasive when it self sows?
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on June 28, 2019:
My gardens are organic. I’ve successfully grown chia plants in a range of different soil types, not treating them any differently than other plants. I add mulch, nothing else.
Do-It-Now-7 on June 27, 2019:
What kind of soil does chia like? Does the soil need amendments? Do the plants require feeding? This will be planted in an organic garden.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 18, 2019:
Cubo, good luck growing white flowers. My chia plants have always had the flowers I photographed and featured in this article. As far as I know, the seed color can be different, not the flower.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 18, 2019:
Thanks to the readers who responded to Kelvin's question. Chia leaf tea is number 6 in my list of 10 ways to use chia ... plus there's even a photo of the leaves with another mention of tea.
I confess it does frustrate me when people ask questions that I've already addressed. I do my best to be helpful, but there's a limit to my patience. lol. Thanks again!
Cubo on March 12, 2019:
If both black and white chia seeds are from Slavia Hispanica then how can I know what color the flowers / seeds will be? Are there specific varieties for white flowers...I want to grow white flowers.
Not telling on March 10, 2019:
I agree with avangalinesky
Avangalinesky on March 05, 2019:
Kelvin, if you had actually taken the time to read the article you would already know the answer to that.
Kelvin on March 04, 2019:
Can i use the chia leaves as tea leaves
Cyndi on November 04, 2018:
Thanks, really cool article. I'm inspired to give growing some of my old chia seeds a try!
Alex Magtulis from Dasmarinas City, Cavite, Philippines on September 27, 2018:
i grow my own chia in a big grow bag here in the Philippines and they are growring well for almost 4 months now. when do i expect them to start flowering? thanks
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on May 30, 2018:
My chia seedlings have only ever been green. At 2” they’re nearly big enough to transplant. Try planting some in a spot with more sunshine in case that’s your problem. And be careful they’re not getting waterlogged, for instance if they are in a pot resting in a saucer of water. Give them space, and only water them when they need it.
Leaves will wilt and look thirsty when it is time to water them.
Gol2 on May 28, 2018:
My chia seedlings are about 2 inches tall , I keep them in a place with morning sun light . I live in (9a) zone.
Q : Why their leaves are getting yellow ?
Monica on May 26, 2018:
One year I placed few seeds in a big urn in poorer soil, they germinated, grew small about to 1 ft but flowered, not pollinated because I kept the pot indoors but was impressed how quickly they sprouted. I'm guessing if too much nitrogen is given to the plants then there'll be more leaves than flowersm if any. Same goes with tomato and pepper plants.
Poonam Dhingra on April 15, 2018:
Really like it can I grow in Hyderabad and learn lots thanks
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 07, 2018:
Thanks, Corrine. They must be very fit to put that much effort into harvesting their native chia. :)
Corrine on April 06, 2018:
The plants that are being harvested in the video via beating is called thistle sage or thistle chia. The people gathering in the video are Native Californians and this is the traditional way to gather the seeds. From my experience it requires a little bit of beating/shaking to get the seeds out.
Felt Timtim on March 31, 2018:
Thanks! Learned a lot.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 06, 2018:
Treat chia like any other plant in your garden, Thao Hoang. Plant it in good soil, mulch it occasionally to help keep the soil moist and healthy, and water it often. If you have poor soil you'll need to fertilise it, but I've never added anything more than mulch to my soil. As for temperature ... you need a long, sunny growing season.
Thao Hoang on January 31, 2018:
Thanks for your sharing. could you provide more about the season? how about temperature, fertiliser and so that we can grow chia?
Evelyn B. Dewar on January 30, 2018:
Your article is informative and helpful. I already have Chia seed and have been using them. Also I plan to plant them in my small garden out back this year, 2018.
Suki on January 20, 2018:
After cutting the sprouts for salad can it regrow again or need to germinate the seed again? Thanks
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on January 11, 2018:
Hi Stefanie. I trust people will have read points #1 and #2 before reading #4 so they should be aware of the role of moisture (including saliva). It is hard to imagine anyone swallowing a whole handful of chia seeds at once. That’s hardly a ‘sprinkle’. Lol. But thanks!
Stefanie on January 11, 2018:
Chia seeds do need to be in contact with moisture before they are eaten. If you were to swallow a handful of chia seeds with out soaking they can cause a blockage in the esophagus due to the way they respond to moisture-- this is in reference to #4 in your list of 10 ways to eat Chia
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on January 01, 2018:
Yes, Susan, but slapping would not be appropriate with the type of chia plants I grow and write about. It would be near impossible to collect seeds that way.
Susan Hansen on December 31, 2017:
It makes totally sense that they slap the plants to get the seeds as there are so many plants that it is impossible to pick them individually.Even if they loose a lot of seeds it is quicker to gather and less time consuming . Can you imagine how long it will take to pick it , wait for it to dry, crush it and the putting it through a sieve
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on December 02, 2017:
I suggest you contact your local Department of Agriculture or a similar government agency, Gourav and ask if chia can be grown in your local region. They should be able to advise you.
Gourav on December 01, 2017:
Mam. Please tell me about the climate conditions that are suitable for chia seeds
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on November 28, 2017:
It will depend on your climate, Anshu De Silva, and other factors. I've never paid attention to exactly how long it takes from chia sprouts to harvesting seeds but I can tell you it is not a quick crop. Chia plants grow very big before they mature, and flowering followed by seeds is a relatively slow process as well, compared to other plants. So you'll need a long growing season if you want to grow your own chia and harvest the seeds.
Anshu De Silva on November 28, 2017:
How much time will be want to harvest after chia seeds sprouting????
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on November 27, 2017:
There's a new feature on this article where people can leave questions and I answer them. Unfortunately I've 'lost' some of those questions and answers and they are not showing on the page. So if you're waiting from a reply to a question, please ask again. Sorry for the mix-up.
Ken Burgess from Florida on November 16, 2017:
What a great article, glad I stumbled onto it, one more thing to add to my yard-garden when I get around to creating it.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on November 12, 2017:
In that space, Justin, you'd have room for only two fully grown chia plants. You could start with more, but expect to pull the others out as they grow.
Justin on November 12, 2017:
I have a small area in my yard that I was looking for something to plant. I think I'm going to plant Chia there but it is only about 3 meters long and one and a half wide. How far apart should the plants be?
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on October 22, 2017:
Harvesting seeds from two acres of chia plants will be a lot of work so you really should find a buyer as quickly as possible to help cover the costs of getting people to help harvest the seed at the right time. It will be heartbreaking if the seeds fall to the ground.
Talk to local business owners. It should be easier to sell locally instead of trying to cross international borders. Good luck!
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on October 15, 2017:
You are absolutely correct, shuesler. There's a significant difference between chia and chai. Chia tea just needs chia leaves. :)
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on October 15, 2017:
Kelly, there's 288 comments at the bottom of this article, with questions and answers. Yours is the only comment that expresses disappointment in the 4 years since I first published this article. Perhaps you failed to notice I'm one woman growing chia in my part of Australia ... sharing my experience.
You should be seeking out some kind of horticultural publication if you're expecting that level of detail. This is a record of my experience ... nothing more, nothing less. That's why my article is titled 'How I Grow and Harvest Organic Chia Seeds'. (Not 'How everyone else in the world can grow them'.)
Good luck finding the kind of publication you're looking for.
Kelly on October 14, 2017:
I didn't see much about how to actually GROW chia. What kind of light does it like? What time of year do you plant it (is it a cold or warm weather crop). What kind of soil (rich, sandy, etc.), what kind of pH for the soil, how much water does it need, what temp is it hardy to, how far apart to plant each seed or thin seedlings, do they need pollination, do they easily grow back the next year (by dropping seeds). So much about how to grow them that was not covered here. Disappointed.
shuesler on October 09, 2017:
ummmm, I think I answered my own question....chia and chai are not the same thing!!!! My bad.
shuesler on October 09, 2017:
Hi, thanks for the information about growing chia plants. I am a bit confused, though about using the leaves to make chia tea? Could you explain?
I thought Chia Tea was made from:
Black tea, milk, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and mace.....and sometimes black pepper
There are no chia seeds or chia plant leaves in Chia Tea.....or?
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on October 05, 2017:
Hi Stephan. I'm an Aussie so I'm not familiar with Southern VA. (Virginia, right?) Google tells me at least part of Virginia is 'humid sub-tropical' climate. If that's your climate, I'd expect chia plants to flower and seed.
However, as I've said many times, I'm no authority on how chia will perform in different parts of the world, which is why I suggest people experiment with a few plants in different parts of their garden.
Sounds like you've gone to a lot of effort to create an ideal growing environment for your chia and, so far, it is working out fine. 6-7 feet tall is what you're aiming for in a good, mature chia plant.
Perhaps try pruning some in the hope of forcing them to go to seed, but that might have been better if you'd reduced the size of the plants earlier in the season. I really don't know what to expect, sorry.
I will say this though, when the flowers and seeds kick in, the process seems quite prompt. I'm hoping there's still a chance you'll get a crop of seeds.
Please let me know how it works out for you. Good luck.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on October 05, 2017:
Cindy, I've googled 'zone three' because I live in Australia where we don't have numbered zones like you do. Here's what I've learned ... "Gardening Zone 3. Winter hardiness is very important in zone 3. Temperatures average -40 to -30 F, and plant roots freeze even though snow cover offers some protection. USDA zone 3 stretches along the Canada-US border in North America."
Gee, that looks cold. I've never tried growing chia plants in such a cold climate so I can't offer you anything from experience. I'm impressed you've grown your chia plants to 6 feet and more ... but I fear you might not have a long enough/warm enough season to get seeds from your plants. What a shame if that's the case.
I don't think you did anything wrong, Cindy. You've obviously given the space they need and looked after them. If you were in Florida or somewhere else that's warm, you'd no doubt have a very successful harvest. I'm hoping you still might be lucky enough to get seeds, but I fear that might just be wishful thinking. Perhaps you could try pruning one of your plants to try to force it to go to seed, with less foliage to look after. But maybe it is too late in the season.
Sorry I can't be more help. But thanks for sharing your experience, for the benefit of other readers in 'zone 3'. I'll be watching for future comments from you if you choose to tell us what happens in coming weeks.
Please remember, chia leaves have medicinal qualities so it would be worth your effort to pick leaves and put them in paper bags to dry. (Put them in a warm place indoors and shake the bags often to make sure the leaves get plenty of air to avoid mould.)
It must be frustrating living in that climate, Cindy. I feel for you.
Stephan Phifer on October 04, 2017:
My chia in fields of 150 x 100ft with rows of a tractor tire width has grown to 6-7 ft tall starting in March in Southern VA but by Oct has not flowered or seeded. Plants are strong and healthy looking. What could be the problem? The planting was over newly cleared out and burned over ground on top of a hill that has not been farmed in 45 years other than harvesting grass.
Cindy Gulbrandson on October 03, 2017:
I live in zone three. I started my Chia plants in the spring in doors in pots and planted them outside. The plants reached height of 6 feet plus, but it is now the beginning of October and I still have no flour heads. Did I do something wrong?
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on September 28, 2017:
I've never paid attention to how many cups of chia seeds can be collected from each plant, Olivia. However I'd be surprised if any family needed more than a few chia plants, if you can grow them big and harvest from them successfully.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on September 28, 2017:
You'd be best advised to ask your questions to a local authority, parviz. Why? Because I've only ever grown chia plants in my home gardens in Australia so I'm not in a position to advise anyone about large scale chia plantations, especially in other parts of the world. Good luck with your chia plantation.
Olivia on September 27, 2017:
How many cups of seeds will one plant produce if you are only recommending planting 12 plants?
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on September 24, 2017:
The person who posted that video and labelled it 'gathering chia' obviously believes it is chia, Deirdre. As I said in the article, my chia looks nothing like that. A very helpful commenter explained about it more than a year ago. Here's the quote, in case you can't find it ...
"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."
Hope that helps clear it up for you.
Deirdrie on September 18, 2017:
are you sure the crop being gathered is chia? It looks more like poppy heads . I am only asking because some chia plants may look different from salvia.
nega on September 01, 2017:
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on August 30, 2017:
Here's my answers to recent questions and comments about growing chia plants.
@gtfacegha, I'm a home grower of chia and I live in Australia so I really can't advise you about growing chia seed commercially in your part of the world. Good luck with making enquiries elsewhere.
@Maria, if you are growing your chia in pots I hope they're really big pots. Have your plants grown as tall as you are? As I explained in this article, a mature chia plant is a very big plant. If yours aren't yet fully grown, I suggest you keep them alive in a greenhouse or somewhere warm throughout winter, then plant them out straight into the garden for your next growing season. Hopefully you'll then get flowers and seeds.
@Godfrey, I see no reason why you couldn't grow chia intercropped with other plants. I'd suggest something shorter than chia though. I doubt chia would thrive among corn plants, for instance. If you're getting lots of sun and plenty of rain, chia might thrive in your area. But I'm only guessing so please start small with chia plants in a number of different locations with different crops so you can see how well it works before expanding your venture.
My top tip for you is to take another look at just how big each mature chia plant will grow (see my photos) and be sure to remove any excess seedlings. Your biggest problem will be if you try to grow too many plants without enough room for each one.
@Zone, I'm thinking Salt Lake City is probably not a great place for growing chia plants, but I'm an Australian so I don't have any real knowledge about your part of the world. If you can bring them indoors for winter, do so. Then plant them out in spring (with plenty of room for growth) and see if you can successfully spread their growth and seeding over the two different growing seasons.
As always, I'll be interested to hear whether or not any of you have success. Good luck with your chia growing!
email@example.com on August 21, 2017:
I want to grow Chai Seed commercial where I can get market and I need to know also better harvesting techniques
Maria on August 21, 2017:
I started my chia plants indoors in March and planted them outside (in pots) after the last frost. It's almost the end of August, and I only see leaves. I haven't seen one flower or any seeds, and the summer is almost over. Where did I go wrong?
Godfrey Kioko on August 05, 2017:
I live in Kitale, Kenya. We get rain throughout the year and our farms are small 1/4 acres to the most farmers. I would like to coordinate farmers to plant and use Chia as an economic activity. Can Chia be intercroped with other crops?
Zone on July 29, 2017:
What zones (climate) can chia grow in? I live on the outskirts of Salt Lake City, Ut. Would I need bring chia plants into the greenhouse for winter?
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on July 24, 2017:
Hi Will. Because I've never been to Uganda or Maine, I'd have to google for a clue about climates in both places. Makes more sense for you to do the search. :)
If you read all the comments as well as my article, you can consider my brain well and truly 'picked' for my knowledge about growing chia. Can't think of anything fresh to add.
You have some chia plants now, so it is simply a matter of time before you find out how well they do. I guess you'll have to be mindful of seasons. Make sure you keep them protected during the coming winter. Good luck.
Will Bonsall on July 24, 2017:
How long and hot a season do they require? I recently was given some chia plants from an African woman who said she grows them in Uganda; what does that portend for mine here in Maine (which are thriving so far)?
Rico on July 23, 2017:
This is very informative, thanks. I will be planting soon and hoping for a success.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on July 21, 2017:
Sounds nice, Clazza, but I hope you're not adding sugar or artificial sweetener to your healthy chia seeds. I'm thinking your fruits and cinnamon (or cacao) should add sufficient sweetness. If not, try natural stevia leaves or a small amount of honey. Glad to hear you're enjoying chia, and thanks for sharing.
Clazza on July 20, 2017:
My favourite way to eat chia is chia pudding.
2 tbs chia, 1/2 cup liquid, 2 tsp sweetener and whatever else like cacao or cinnamon plus berries and banana. Put in fridge for at least 4 hours. Great breaky!
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on July 15, 2017:
If you read my article and all my answers to the many questions I've received about growing chia over the years, there's not much more I can add. By looking at my answers to others, you might be able to figure out how your climate and location compares to theirs. If you are genuinely interested in trying to grow chia, I suggest just tossing a few seeds on the ground at the beginning of your growing season and doing your own experiment. Good luck.
Mrs. Ng on July 05, 2017:
May I know if Chia plant can grow in hot weather like Singapore?
Swee on July 05, 2017:
1. Can chia seeds be eaten raw?
2. Must chia seeds be put under the sun to dry before eating?
3. Can Chia sprouts be put under the sun to dry before using for tea? How tall the sprouts before we cut the sprouts?
4. Before harvasting for chia seeds, must we sun the flower heads?
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on June 28, 2017:
I do not know about the weather in Thailand but I've successfully grown and harvested chia seeds in Queensland, Australia. If your weather is similar to the weather at the Gold Coast in Australia, you should be fine. Just make sure you give your chia seeds plenty of water and some protection from the hottest part of the day. Good luck.
Pisit M. on June 27, 2017:
Thanks for posting such an informative article. I will definitely try growing chia in my garden.
Would the weather in Thailand be supportive enough, its mainly hot all around the year, with a peak of 40-42 deg C?
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on June 25, 2017:
Thanks for sharing your research, aijiko. I look forward to hearing the results of your experience. I'm always happy for other growers to share their additional hints here. In the 4 years since I wrote this article, I'm sure there's been a lot of new chia growers coming on board.
Newbie chia grower, you make me laugh. You planted the entire contents of a large bag of chia? Those deer will have to work hard to thin them. lol. Just make sure you leave enough room for at least some of them to grow to maturity. As for the timing from chia seed to harvest, the previous commenter shared some thoughts. I've never counted the days, and each different climate will produce different results.
Newbechiagrower on June 22, 2017:
How many days to maturity from seed to harvest? I planted a large bag of chia seed and didn't realize they got so big? I'm having a hard time keeping the deer out of it, but they are thinning it for me. :)
aijiko on June 20, 2017:
Just wanted to chime in after doing a page search for words like "zone" and "days" (looking for days to maturity) and things like that. I have mined out what I feel might be the answer to people's questions about zone. Keep in mind that I have not tried this yet, but be assured that I will as soon as I'm able.
There are some plants whose days to maturity can be greatly manipulated by the amount of sunlight they get per day. By your comment:
"There are lots of variables when growing chia. For instance, in some areas chia will grow, flower and seed within 100 days. Yet in other regions it can take 150 days."
I am assuming that at least some (if not all) types of chia plants fall into this category and so give we who live closer to the poles some hope of being able to grow it.
I am also glad that I came across this comment:
"chia plants need sunlight without being fried"
Since I live in a high desert, this is important for me.
So my suggestion for those who think their climate is too cold is to take your advice and try. Start indoors, plant out after all danger of frost and maybe cover with 10% shade cloth if you have seriously scorching sun like I do.
Thank you so much for the article. It has inspired me and I am excited to try growing chia now. Maybe these two tidbits I found helpful could have been included in your article, but it's also fun to push the limits and try new things to learn these details for ourselves. I felt this was an excellent stepping off point.
Anonymous on June 12, 2017:
When do flowers start to grow?
Njeri Karanja-Kenya on May 31, 2017:
Wow! I found it interesting and hope it will solve my nutritional issues. I have black chia on the desk already. Thanks
Maria M on May 28, 2017:
I've finally found a chia recipe that I love. Now I want to grow my own chia. We have about 4-5 months of spring/summer here. Can I grow chia indoors during the winter?
Maria on May 22, 2017:
I'd love to grow my own chia, but we don't have a very good climate. Can I grow it indoors? I bought a chia pet last year. Can I grow chia seeds on a chia pet. Thanks! (By the way, this was the most helpful chia article I've read!)
Gail on May 22, 2017:
can chia be grown in the northeast. I'm in zone 3-4.
Dele Alonge on May 07, 2017:
Very interesting link
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 30, 2017:
A chia plant is not really a tree, Dean. I've always pulled the old plants after harvest to be replaced by new ones, but depending on your climate you might be able to just chop the plants back and see if they flower again. I've never bothered trying it. How many seeds you'll get from each plant differs, depending on the soil, climate etc. I suggest you grow half a dozen chia plants and see how much yield you get.
Dean Aiolias on April 29, 2017:
How many chia trees do i need to serve a 4-member family? By the way, How long will the trees grow seed, I guess when I harvest, I'll have to grow new trees.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 06, 2017:
Shade for part of the day works well if your climate is extremely hot and sunny. But remember, chia plants need warmth and light throughout their life. Particularly if you want to harvest lots of chia seeds from your plants. I'm pleased my explanation was helpful. Thank you.
Dr Sarjeet Singh on April 05, 2017:
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR GIVING SUCH A GOOD INFORMATION ABOUT ORGANIC CHIA GARDENING/CULTIVATION AND COLOUR VARIATIONS IN SEED, THEIR FOOD VALUE ETC. I AM VERY MUCH IMPRESSED BY YOUR SIMPLE WAY OF EXPLAINING THE WHOLE PROCESS OF CULTIVATION. HOWEVER, I HAVE A QUESTION WHETHER CHIA PLANTS CANBE GROWN UNDER SHADE OR NOT..
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 05, 2017:
I watched your video, Hans and saw you planting amaranth and millet. No sign of any chia. However I enjoyed seeing you in your garden and I'm guessing you planted your chia the same way.
Here's a tip to make life a little easier for you. There's no need to use your rake on the ground after planting chia. Just toss the chia seeds on your prepared soil and water them. The seeds are tiny are take root easily. A light watering will help 'bury' them enough for them to take root. And you can save yourself a lot of work if you throw fewer chia seeds. Many handfuls of seed will result in too many chia plants to cope with. You'd have to pull many plants out as they start growing because each chia plant (given sufficient room) will grow as big as you are. Have a look at how much space you take up when you're standing in your garden. That's how much room each chia plant requires to grow to full size and create lots of new chia seeds.
Mind you, I also grow amaranth and each plant grows to the size of a man as well. So I'm guessing you'll have a lot of extra small plants to feed to your chickens over the coming months as you weed them out. :) It is always to meet another avid gardener. Good luck with this year's harvest.
Qberry Farm on April 04, 2017:
I have been gardening for over 70 years so I am not afraid to experiment. I have a large pumpkin patch that has been covered with carpet for 3 years so it is mostly weed free. This year I am planting it to all the small seeds I buy in bulk for my daily "bread". This year I have added chia and I was not sure what it would be like at harvest. Google gave your site as the answer; thank you . Here is a video of how I planted it though not when I planted it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3B3lSz8UAY
I have several plants with the same seed strategy; you have to carefully hold the seed head upright and not shake it if mature. more tedious harvesting but less separating. I should have a harvest in July or August. The kale in the video should have set seed by then.
ane on March 19, 2017:
how long do they live for?
Joey on March 16, 2017:
can they grow in a tropical country? how long does it take to harvest the seeds?
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 15, 2017:
Taylor, chia plants need sunlight without being fried. So it depends on how extreme your climate is.