Chamomile – a pretty and useful herb
After hours working in the garden it’s great to sit back and relax with a cup of tea. It’s even better if you have grown the tea yourself. One of my favourite teas is chamomile- especially my home grown, home dried tea. It’s much sweeter and less musty than some of the shop bought teas I have tried. And it’s really easy to grow and harvest.
Originally I purchased some German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) seeds from Diggers club and following the instructions I scattered the seeds over my vegie patch, sprinkled some soil over the top and gently watered them in. The seeds were sown in a sunny spot early in Spring and came up fairly quickly. In the first year I did harvest some flowers, but importantly I let many of the flowers go to seed, and since that first abundant harvest I have self- sown plants cropping up every year. So my only job is to transplant the seedlings. Although, I do like to leave some of the plants where they grow, trusting that they grow in suitable spots. Chamomile is noted as being a beneficial companion to many plants. It is also a great plant for paths and lawns, as it benefits from being walked on!
Transplanting is a simple matter of gently digging in and around the plants, being careful to avoid damaging the roots and transplanting them to a prepared hole. I tend to do this when the plants are small, around 5 cm high but this year my husband even transplanted some of the chamomile that was flowering- and that too transplanted very well. It is a very hardy plant but I do recommend using Seasol – or another gentle fertiliser on all transplants. It really eases their transition.
This Spring I had another abundant harvest, so on a warm morning when the flowers were open wide, and dry I began to harvest the flower heads. While I may have had upwards of 20 plants, I probably only harvested from 6 of the biggest plants. Chamomile is a small plant 50 cm x 20 cm with a showy profusion of flowers. 4-6 plants grown in a sunny spot is enough to make at least 60 cups of tea (using two teaspoons per person, one for the pot and one for you!)
The easiest way to harvest the heads, is to simply rake your fingers through the flowers and gently tug as you go, pulling off the flower heads. They come off very easily, and it doesn’t matter if you have a few bits of stem. You harvest the whole head. My crops were so abundant it hardly looked as if I had taken any flowers at all. And importantly- harvesting the heads encourages another flush of flowers- giving you the opportunity to take a second batch of flower heads later on. I suggest you do this.
Having collected a whole basket full of heads I simply placed some butchers paper underneath the basket and left it to sit in my laundry for 2 weeks. You can use a specially designed drying rack, or a splatter screen (the kind you use when frying oil!) but I find my shallow cane basket words very well. The laundry has lots of fresh air (with louvered windows for drying clothes) and is fairly light- it’s a north facing laundry- although no direct sunlight was shining on the flower heads. I give them a little shake every couple of days to make sure there is no moisture, and to ensure they are drying evenly. When fully dried I simply store the chamomile in a glass airtight jar. Some people do recommend a caddy, as tea is generally affected by light, heat and humidity.
Chamomile is a very beneficial herb known to be relaxing, carminative (relaxes the stomach and support digestion) and anti- inflammatory. It is also said to be good for skin conditions, and is suitable for children. I brew a teaspoon of dried flower heads per person, with an additional one for the pot. It is best to let it brew for 3-5 minutes to allow the plant to do its magic! So as well as having a pleasant taste and fragrance, chamomile will help you relax and sleep- just what you need after a day in the garden.
Harvesting your own tea is also beneficial to the health of the planet. It comes without any food miles, packaging, and pesticide use. Whereas bought tea is usually transported for many kilometres, often from overseas as there are few local tea producers. Loose leaf tea usually comes packaged in a single box, with an additional sealed packet. Tea bags also come in a box, with an additional sealed package, and then each tea bag has its own seal, the individual teabag, plus a string, a tag, and a staple. That is a whole lot of packaging, which means, more energy and water to produce it, more greenhouse gases and more waste. You might think that waste for tea bags is minimal, but along with the cardboard, and the plastic packaging, there are the tea bags themselves. Many people assume tea bags can be composted but this isn’t necessarily so. Tea bags these days are often made from nylon! Not something you want in the compost.
Whereas with your home grown tea leaves, you know the only energy used is your own, and there is no packaging waste and no food miles. And best of all, when you have finished your pot, you can throw the flowers/leaves directly on the garden or put it in your compost. While some of the nutrients will have been taken up by you, the loose leaf tea will still have many nutritional benefits for you garden. And with chamomile, they are considerable. It is recommended for you compost heap as it sweetens it with calcium and potassium, or throw the leaves around the base of a tired looking tree, and just like you it will be replenished with a good cup of chamomile tea.…
Chamomile – Seeds
Chamomile – Seeds
Height: around 50cm
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 9.
Flowers: Species dependent: Summer, and/or autumn.
Flower Details: Yellow white. Daisy-like ray and disc florets
Foliage: Herbaceous. Lobed.
Days to Maturity: 60-90 days
Sowing Method: Direct Sow/Indoor Sow
Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Soil pH 6 to 7. Ordinary soils. Stake tall species. Pinch tips of seedlings to encourage bushiness. Deadhead. Divide in Spring.
How to grow:
1. Fill a seed tray with rich potting soil and sow the Chamaemelum nobile seeds on the tray. Place the tray in a sunny location. Water the seeds to keep the soil moist until the seedlings are large enough to handle, usually within one month.
2. Select a planting site for Chamaemelum nobile. This plant can grow outside in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 6 through 9, meaning the lowest temperature of the year should be between minus 10 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Chamaemelum nobile prefers full sun and can tolerate partial shade
3. Prepare the planting site with sandy, well-drained soil. Remove the Chamaemelum nobile seedlings from the seed tray and plant them in the permanent location. Space the plants 6 to 12 inches apart if you are using them as a lawn substitute. Space Chamaemelum nobile plants 18 inches apart if you plant them in garden.
4. Water the Chamaemelum nobile plants with 1 to 2 inches of water per week during the growing season. Trim the plants regularly with small pruning shears to encourage them to grow dense foliage.
5. Collect Chamaemelum nobile flower heads after they die in the fall. Dried Chamaemelum nobile flowers can be used to make an herbal tea that is common in folk medicine.
Chamomile Seeds – Grow German and Roman Chamomile, Herb Seeds at SeedArea.
Buy and grow chamomile seeds and plants for a fragrant herb, ideal for a soothing tea. chamomile tea.
The Simplicity Behind Growing Chamomile Herbs From Seed
How to Grow Chamomile:
Chamomile is known for having many medical and herbal effects. Camomile is a cheery herb that can brighten anyone’s garden and can have many seductive qualities to it. Chamomile is both physically pleasing to the eye as well as useful for a variety of different practical uses.
The two main kinds of chamomile that are grown in a garden are Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). The Roman Chamomile is known as the traditional kind of chamomile, however, when it comes to herbal effects German Chamomile is used for other similar herbal uses.
Seed Sowing Depth: Chamomile seeds should be sown at a depth of about 1/16″ inches beneath the soil while leaving about 8 to 10 inches of space between each chamomile plant that is planted to allow adequate space for the seeds to spread as they grow. Some growers even surface sow the seed in a controlled environment, which proves to yield the most success on germination.
When to Sow: Chamomile seeds are best when they are planted in the spring time (April to May time frame) as it is a plant that will only grow for one growing season. Planting should not occur before the last frost is surely gone as chamomile plants will not endure frosts well.
Sowing Indoors/Outdoors: Chamomile is only recommended to be grown outside and is generally not suitable for containers or for being grown indoors. Chamomile will do best when grown outside as part of a landscape where they are planted in large clumps to create mass clumps.
Plants Height & Width: The chamomile plants will end up growing to be about 20 to 30 inches (50 to 70 centimeters) tall.
Leaves Colors & Descriptions: When fully grown, chamomile plants will have double-divided and have a feathery appearance. Chamomile leaves are a light green color and somewhat skinny in nature.
Growth Habits: Chamomile grows in either a partially-shady or totally sunny environment when the last frosts of the winter have passed. Chamomile will need at least some sunlight for it to be able to grow adequately.
It’s also important to realize that if there is a frost while the chamomile is trying to grow, the likelihood of the chamomile surviving the frost are slim.
The average germination period for a chamomile seed once it’s planted in the soil runs between 7 and 14 days (1-2 weeks) but some varieties of chamomile can germinate in few as 4 to 5 days. This is especially true if the chamomile seeds are in an environment where or a grower that encourages rapid growth of the plant such as Oasis Rootcubes, Rapid Rooters, or Stonewool growers.
The entire time from the seed being planted to the chamomile being able to be sold will total about 4 to 6 weeks.
Chamomile can only grow inside satisfactorily if provided with fluorescent lights to help ensure that the plant is getting adequate sun to make the plant grow the way it should. Otherwise, growing the plant outside and planting it in large masses and clumps is the most recommended practice to help grow your chamomile plants.
General Information & Uses of Chamomile: Chamomile is known for having many medicinal and herbal effects including properties to help improve the quality of one’s skin, can treat infections by acting as an antibiotic, and it can help treat bites/rashes/itches by acting as it is hypoallergenic so it neutralizes free radicals that infect the skin.
Chamomile is often used to make teas that help fight anxiety and depression (have a calming effect), has an anti-inflammatory agent, treats muscle spasms, helps naturally treat PMS, helps treat insomnia (allows people to sleep better), helps treat skin disorders, and can treat ulcers to name a few powers that chamomile tea can have.
Chamomile is also used as an ingredient in homemade tincture which has been used in the US alone for centuries. It can help calm fussy babies and can even help treat bruises and other minor injuries by making them feel more relaxed and less painful.
Chamomile oils can be used to help create a shampoo, conditioner, or other hair care product that will promote youthful looking hair. Same can be said for adding chamomile oils to bath soaps to help skin looks younger.
Chamomile is also used as it is added to bath waters and salts to give a relaxing aroma to your evening time bath. It can also be used as an essential oil and helps treats minor aches and pains that may creek up in the body over time. Many people swear by it as a natural remedy to help them feel better and treat arthritis, muscle stiffness, spasms, or other conditions as well.
When chamomile leaves are dried out they serve great purposes in aromatherapy and other herbal medicinal uses.
The entire part of the chamomile plant from the ground up can be used for the various purposes listed above. Chamomile is a great plant to grow in your garden as none of it goes to waste, and it serves a variety of practical purposes both in food and in medicine as well.
Pests & Diseases: Chamomile is a pretty hearty plant that is no\t subject to suffering from very many pests or diseases, however be sure to keep an eye out for both aphids and mealybugs. Propagate healthier plants by regularly collecting chamomile seeds to keep them continually growing new ones.
Harvesting Information & Storage: When harvesting chamomile the best practice is to pick the flowers early in the morning just after the dew has evaporated for the day but before the sun rises high in the sky for the day. Select flowers that are very close to opening, but have not done so yet. Pinch the stalk just below the head and then pop off the bloom that you have selected. Collect them in a tightly-woven basket so they do not slip through the openings in the basket.
Dry them out by spreading them in the single layer in a dark, cool, dry place to dry for 1 to 2 weeks. Use 2-3 teaspoons of dried seeds per 1 cup of boiling water after the flowers are left to dehydrate in a dehydrator tray for 1 to 2 weeks to ensure that none of the dried out flowers fall through the tray.
After the flowers are dehydrated you can store them in plastic bags or even preserve them dried in an airtight container like parsley or garlic chives that have been dehydrated as well. One great trick is to chop the flowers into tiny pieces and store them in ice cube trays till they are ready to be used. It’s a convenient storage method for these flowers till they a ready to be used.
Edible Uses & Flavor: Chamomile flowers are edible as they are an ingredient used to make chamomile teas as well as the oil is used for a host of purposes as well. Besides being able to be drank in teas and other drinks, it can also be used as an ingredient that is added to salads and goes best with ingredients including chopped butter lettuce dressed with olive oil, salt, and lemon zest to name a few ingredients that go very well with the chamomile to make a delicious, mouthwatering salad.
Chamomile is often added to yogurt to provide an extra bit of taste or it can be added to certain dips to give them some extra pizazz and flavor as well when it is used for dipping crudités.
German chamomile is also known as scented mayweed and wild chamomile. It’s a hardy annual with pleasantly scented flowers, and is primarily grown for medicinal use and teas. Follow this handy How to Grow chamomile from seeds and relax. Learn how to grow your own organic chamomile in containers or in your herb garden.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Sow late March to mid-May either indoors or direct where it is to grow. If starting indoors, be sure to harden seedlings off before they are transplanted. Optimal temperature for germination: 19°C (65°F). Bottom heat speeds germination.
Sow seeds 1cm (½”) deep. Keep moist, and thin or transplant to 10-15cm (4-6″) apart. Seeds should sprout in 10-14 days.
Chamomile is a fairly adaptable plant, but does best in full sun in well-drained soil. Water well in dry weather, and deadhead thoroughly to prevent self-sowing.
Harvest the small, sweet smelling flowers when they are fully open. Use the petals fresh or dry. The leaves can be gathered in spring to early summer and used fresh or dry.
Chamomile attracts hoverflies and wasps. Plant near onions to improve their flavour.
More on Companion Planting.
Chamomile Seed Info: How And When To Plant Chamomile Seeds
Chamomiles are cheery little plants. Sweetly scented like fresh apples, chamomile plants are used as ornamental flowerbed borders, planted in cottage and herb gardens, or grown as a pollinator friendly, low maintenance lawn substitute. They are also used as a defense against pests and disease in the vegetable garden. Chamomile plants may range in height from 6-18 inches (15-46 cm.) with an equal spread, depending upon type. All chamomile types produce an abundance of seed that will quickly self-sow wherever it lands in warm, loose soil. Continue reading to learn more about growing chamomile from seed.
How to Grow Chamomile from Seed
There are two different species of plants commonly known as chamomile.
- Chamaemelum mobile, also commonly known as English, Russian or Roman chamomile, is a low growing perennial. It is considered to be the true chamomile and is used in landscapes as a flowering groundcover or lawn substitute. English chamomile is hardy in zones 4-11 and is cultivated all over the world for its herbal properties.
- German chamomile, or Matricaria recutita, is also cultivated as the herb chamomile, but it is considered the false chamomile. It is an annual that grows to 18 inches (46 cm.) tall and its consistent miniature daisy-like flowers add charm to container, herb and cottage gardens.
Both types of chamomile plants produce small white composite flowers with bright yellow center discs. German chamomile produces a hollow conical disc from which its white petals arch down from. English chamomile’s disc is flatter and solid, the flower petals spread outward from the disc, like a ray.
Upon each disc, or seed head, an abundance of chamomile seeds are produced, which germinate within 7-10 days when exposed to adequate soil, sunlight and water. When seeds are left on the plant to mature and spread naturally, one chamomile plant can quickly turn in to a lovely patch of chamomile.
Planting Chamomile Seeds
Chamomile usually produces flowers that can be harvested for herbal use in just 6-8 weeks. When harvesting chamomile flowers, most herb gardeners will leave some seed heads to naturally self-sow to produce a small colony of chamomile. You can also set aside some of the harvested blooms to dry for seed to plant in other areas. So when to plant chamomile seeds in the garden?
Chamomile seeds can be started indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost. When planting chamomile seeds indoors, fill a seed tray with well-draining potting mix, then simply scatter the seeds over the loose soil and lightly tamp it down or water it in with a light mist.
Seedlings should be thinned to 2-4 inches (5-10 cm.) apart when they are about an inch (2.5 cm.) tall. Plants do not like to be transplanted once their roots have established and they begin to produce blooms, so many gardeners prefer to sow the seeds directly in the garden.
In the garden or as a lawn substitute, chamomile seeds need only be scattered over loose soil and gently tamped down. Germination can occur in temperatures as low as 45-55 F. (7-13 C.) in full sun to part shade.