Chamomile

How to Grow Chamomile

Chamomile is the common name for two similar plants, but of different genera. Both are a wonderful addition to vegetable and decorative gardens. German Chamomile, an annual, reseeds itself readily, while Roman Chamomile is a perennial. I prefer German Chamomile, both for flavor (tea) and for it’s looks. I only purposefully planted it once, and then year after year I have gotten tons of volunteers as soon as the soil is defrosted. In my area, where it’s not below freezing very often, they start germinating as soon as I take out the summer vegetable crops. They have beautiful green foliage, which the chickens also love to munch on. Their pretty daisy-like flowers attract tons of beneficial insects, so they are great companion plants to vegetables. And it’s great to have the fixings for a nice cup of chamomile tea in your back yard!

Botanical Information

Taxonomy 

  • Family: Asteraceae
  • German Chamomile: Matricaria  chamomilla or M. recutita
    • recutita, or recutitus, is Latin for “circumcised” TDB
  • Roman Chamomile: Chamaemelum nobile

History

Other Uses

Allantoin, which is made from the roots of the German Chamomile, is a wonderful additive to skincare products. It is a functional ingredient that actually helps skin heal and in cell turn over.

It comes as a powder, or granulated, and is very difficult to incorporate into products because it is only very slightly soluble in water and not at all in oil.Then once it is incorporated into the product, it is sensitive to heat and cold. If it gets too hot, it will crystallize and be very difficult to re-dissolve. If it gets too cold, it will come out of solution.

Physical Description

 

Both Roman and German Chamomile have finely cut foliage and daisy-like flowers, but German Chamomile grow will grow taller, 2-3 foot tall stems, whereas Roman Chamomile is low-growing.  German Chamomile grows profusely in clumps and reseeds readily. Roman Chamomile is a perennial, and is sometimes used as a lawn replacement. Their sweet apple-like fragrance is common to both. Blooms from late spring through late summer, and in to fall in mild climates.

Varieties & Cultivars

Colors Available

Varieties

German Chamomile: 

  • grows taller
  • better tasting (less bitter)
  • less-likely to cause allergic reactions than Roman Chamomile TDB
  • more widely used in culinary and medical applications
  • due to chamazulene, a surprising blue-green color develops in German chamomile extracts

Roman Chamomile

  • low-growing
  • makes a good ground cover
  • tastes a little bitter compared to German counterpart
  • allergic reactions are a common problem with this species TDB

Growth Requirements

Climate & Temperature Requirements

Air Temperature

Soil Temperature

Humidity

Day Length or Light Requirements

Chamomile likes full sun to partial shade

Site Conditions Favored

Soil Requirements

Soil Texture

Chamomile prefers sandy, well-drained soil.

pH

Nutrient Requirements

Propagation

Methods of propagation

Seed

German chamomile: Sow seed in spring; will reseed itself readily.

Division

 

Cuttings

 

Transplanting or Potting Up

Seed Saving

chamomile

Chamomile behind trellis

Planting Out

Bed Prep & Soil Amendments

Bed Spacing

Row Spacing

Planting Depth

Alternative Bed Methods

Container Gardening

Routine Cultivation & Maintenance

Water Requirements

Fertilization Recommendations

Mulching & Weeding

Pinching or Pruning & Dividing

Support

Winterizing

Companion Planting

Helpful Companions

Harmful Companions

Companion to..

Pests, Diseases & Problems

Common Pests

Common Diseases

Symptoms

Whole Plant

Leaves

Stem/Trunk

Flowers

Fruit

Roots

Harvesting & Storage

Edible Parts of the Plant

Flowers: taste has a hint of apple

Yield

Days to Harvest / Harvest Timing

  • Chamomile flowers can be harvested from late spring on into fall, as long as the weather is mild
  • their aromatic and medicinal compounds are strongest just after the flowers ripen and dry

Harvest Methods

Flowers: chamomile flowers are ready to harvest when the petals begin to droop. Harvest them in the morning after the dew has dried, but before the day starts to heat up. If you are not going to be using them soon, cut far enough below the flower head to be able to stand them in a vase of water, in a cool place.

Storage of harvest

Fresh

Flowers: if you have long enough stems, stand them in a vase of water and keep them in a cool place; if stems aren’t long enough, store them between layers of damp paper towels in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Canned

Frozen

Pickled

Dried

Chamomile flowers dry well. To dry them, snip the stems off the flowers and lay them on dry paper towels or screen in a single layer. you could also use a dehydrator. When dry, store in an air-tight container in a dark place. It’s best to keep them out of the light so they don’t lose their volatile oils & color, so the darker or more opaque containers are best.

32 g fresh flower heads = 10 g dried chamomile

Cooking

Nutritional Benefits & Values

  • chamomile flowers contain a rich mixture of aromatic and medicinal compounds that are strongest just after the flowers ripen and dry TDB
  • in addition to their well-known sedative qualities, pharmacological studies show that the flowers’ anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects actually do help calm the stomach TDB

Toxicity

Ragweed allergy sufferers should take caution with chamomile.

Cooking

Preparation

Just before using, gently wash the flowers, making sure to get insects and soil off them. snip the flower head off as close to the bud as possible.

Cooking Methods

Recipes (link to …/category/recipes/tag/[plantname])

  • Chamomile Tea
    • 3-4 t chamomile flowers, with petals just beginning to droop (or 1-2 t dried)
    • 1 C boiling water
    • steep for 3 minutes
    • strain
    • serve

Resources

Information for this article was taken from these sources:

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