Chamomile is a popular herb with cute white flowers. Known especially for its use in tea, chamomile is easy to grow and can be started indoors or sown into the soil easily. Learn how to plant, grow and care for this beautiful flowering herb. With so many benefits, chamomile is a must in your garden.
Planting and Growing Chamomile Herbs
Chamomile produces tiny seeds that germinate easily. It has a lovely sweet smell, similar to the smell of apples. Starting this plant indoors or out is fairly easy, and these plants are a wonderful addition to any garden. It’s a great option for beginner gardeners who want to get into herb gardening.
German Chamomile versus Roman Chamomile
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is also known as English or Russian Chamomile. This variety is a perennial low growing herb. It is hardy and can grow in zones 4-11. Commonly used as a groundcover or even a replacement for grass, they come back year after year and spread pretty easily through their root system.
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is considered the false chamomile variety, even though it is commonly grown as the herb chamomile. This annual grows little white daisy flowers, and is used commonly in herb gardens and cottage gardens.
Starting Chamomile Seeds
Both German and Roman Chamomile have tiny seeds that germinate rather quickly. Germination for chamomile usually takes 7-14 days.
These plants can germinate well in lower temperatures, such as 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit. Starting seeds indoors, 2-4 weeks before the last frost, can give your chamomile a head start.
German chamomile will need about 12 inches of spacing between each plant and will get up to 18 inches high.
Roman chamomile can grow similarly to grass or any other groundcover, and will continue to expand through its root system, year after year.
Soil and Sun Requirements
Chamomile enjoys soil with a pH of 5.6-7.5, so slightly acidic but mainly neutral. They like rich, organic soil that drains well. This herb can survive in soil that’s not as rich, but won’t thrive and will have a weaker plant.
Chamomile loves full sun locations but can do well in partial shade. If you live in a warm area, afternoon shade would offer the best support for these plants.
Caring for Chamomile
When young, this herb likes to be watered frequently but does not like to have wet roots. Allow your plants to dry out a bit between watering, although on hot days chamomile prefers to be overwatered. Once established, chamomile can tolerate some drought-like conditions.
Chamomile does not need fertilizer to grow, in fact it grows quickly and can actually become invasive. Planting them and growing them in containers is a great way to keep it from overtaking a garden.
Companion Planting with Chamomile
This plant is great at attracting pollinators to your garden. Chamomile provides anti-bacterial and anti-fungal benefits, helping to rid plants of mold and mildew. It is also known for its ability to repel pests from cucumbers.
Plant Chamomile with: cabbage, onions, beans, cucumbers, broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts.
Pests and Diseases
Chamomile is not prone to many diseases or pests. However, thrips and aphids can occasionally cause a problem. Both pests can be repelled from the plant with some insecticidal soap.
How to Harvest Chamomile Flowers
When harvesting, you will want to harvest the flowers and not the stems or the leaves.
On both plants, flowers can start to form as early as 6-8 weeks and will continue to flower throughout the summer. Harvesting will be a continuous project all summer long. Removing the blossoms with also encourage more blooming.
Chamomile flowers are ready to harvest when they fully bloom. Slightly wilted flowers, or flowers that have not opened fully will not offer as many benefits as those that are in full bloom.
Pinch off the flowers with your fingers and be sure to get as many flowers are you can. During the summer, you will end up with tons of chamomile flowers.
Drying Your Chamomile Flowers
Chamomile flowers are great for teas and tinctures. You will want to be sure to dry out the flower heads before using. You can lay them out to dry in dark, dry, cool area, or you can dry them in a dehydrator.
I store my herbs in large glass mason jars in a cabinet for later use.
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