Today we’ve got a complete guide to growing chamomile. From choosing which kind of chamomile to grow to how to care for a mature plant.
Chamomile is a popular herb known for its delightful and soothing aroma, often used in tea for its calming properties. Growing chamomile in your own garden can be a rewarding experience that also adds beauty to your outdoor space. Here we will explore the essential steps to cultivate and care for your very own chamomile plants.
Depending on the variety you choose, such as German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) or Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), you’ll find that these plants are relatively easy to grow.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, following the right tips and guidelines will ensure that your chamomile plants thrive, providing you with ample harvest for making delicious teas or using in homemade remedies.
Chamomile is a beautiful European herb that produces fragrant, daisy-like flowers with white petals surrounding a yellow center. It is commonly used in herbal remedies, beverages, and skin care products.
There are two types of chamomile that you might be interested in growing: German chamomile and Roman chamomile.
German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is an annual plant that can grow up to 2 feet tall. It’s an aggressive self-seeder, which means that even though it’s an annual, it may come back year after year. This variety is best for making tea and is characterized by its upright growth pattern and flowers that grow along branching stems. The Bodegold variety is known for its large flowers, high level of essential oils, and early bloom time.
On the other hand, Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is a perennial herb, which means it comes back year after year without needing to be replanted. This variety is slightly shorter than German chamomile, staying closer to the ground and forming a mat-like growth pattern. While both varieties can be used for tea, Roman chamomile is not as commonly used for this purpose.
When growing chamomile, ensure you give it plenty of sunlight, as it thrives in full sun to partial shade. Make sure not to overwater your plants, as chamomile thrives in well-draining soil and can suffer from root rot if it stays too wet.
Additionally, chamomile is an excellent companion plant for your garden, attracting beneficial insects and helping to improve the flavor of your vegetables.
|Features||Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)||German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)|
|Plant Height||4-12 inches||Up to 24 inches|
|Plant Spread||9-18 inches||8-16 inches|
|Flower Color||White with yellow center||White with yellow center|
|Leaf Color||Dark green||Light green|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun to partial shade||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Well-drained soil||Well-drained soil|
|Soil pH||Neutral to slightly alkaline||Neutral to slightly acidic|
|Harvest||Before or during flowering||During flowering|
|Properties||Mild sedative, digestive aid||Anti-inflammatory, digestive aid, calming|
German chamomile is an annual that is best for tea-making, while Roman chamomile is a perennial that stays close to the ground. Whichever variety you decide to grow, ensure you provide enough sunlight and don’t overwater your plants. With a bit of care, you’ll soon have a flourishing chamomile plant to enjoy in your garden!
The Benefits of Growing Your Own Chamomile
Growing your own chamomile is a delightful experience that comes with numerous benefits. Not only is chamomile a beautiful herb with dainty white flowers and feathery green leaves, but it is also easy to grow and maintain in your garden.
By cultivating your own chamomile, you can enjoy the luxury of harvesting fresh flowers right at home. These flowers can be steeped into a soothing chamomile tea, which is a popular drink known for its calming effects. Drinking chamomile tea before bedtime can help you unwind after a long day and promote a restful night’s sleep.
But, the benefits of chamomile don’t stop at its sedative properties. This versatile herb also offers a variety of health benefits:
- Chamomile is known to help with digestion and alleviate gastrointestinal problems like indigestion and bloating. A cup of chamomile tea after a meal can soothe your stomach and support proper digestion.
- The anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties of chamomile help alleviate muscle tension and reduce pain. Enjoying a cup of chamomile tea may relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, and muscle aches.
- Chamomile has antioxidant properties that contribute to overall well-being. Regularly consuming chamomile tea can help boost your immunity and protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Growing your own chamomile also contributes to a healthier environment by attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies to your garden. Plus, you can be certain that your chamomile is free from harmful pesticides and other chemicals often found in commercially grown herbs.
Choosing the Right Location to Grow Chamomile
To successfully grow chamomile, one of the most important factors is choosing an ideal location in your garden. This friendly guide will help you through the process step by step.
First, ensure that you select an area with full sun. Chamomile grows best in a south- or west-facing location that gets at least four to six hours of bright sunlight daily. This will make sure your plants thrive and produce plenty of flowers.
Next, consider the soil. For healthy chamomile growth, you need well-draining soil with a neutral pH level. You can improve drainage by adding organic matter, such as compost, to your soil. Doing so also provides essential nutrients for your plants.
Watering is crucial too. Chamomile requires moderately moist soil, so make sure your selected area allows for consistent irrigation. However, avoid overwatering, as this will lead to root rot and weaken your plants.
One helpful tip is to water chamomile infrequently since it produces a stronger fragrance when it’s not overwatered, making it a more powerful insect repellent.
When it comes to growing chamomile, keep in mind that there are two main varieties:
German chamomile and Roman chamomile.
German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is an annual plant that usually self-seeds year after year, making it a more popular choice for gardeners.
On the other hand, Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is a perennial plant more commonly used as a ground cover, lawn replacement, or edging.
Select the variety that best fits your gardening needs.
With these simple tips in mind, you’re well on your way to growing beautiful, healthy chamomile plants in your garden. Good luck, and happy gardening!
Planting Chamomile: From Seed to Seedling
Preparing the Soil
To grow chamomile, it’s essential to prepare the soil properly. Chamomile thrives in well-draining soil with a pH between 5.6 and 7.5. It prefers full sun, but can tolerate partial shade.
Before planting, loosen the soil in your garden and mix in some compost to improve drainage and nutrient content.
Planting Chamomile Seeds
When planting chamomile seeds, you can either sow them directly outdoors or start them indoors and transplant later.
To plant outdoors, scatter the seeds over the soil and gently press them into the surface.
No need to cover them, as they need light to germinate.
Keep the soil evenly moist. For indoor planting, fill a seed tray with well-draining potting mix, scatter the seeds, and lightly tamp them down or mist them with water.
Once the seedlings reach about an inch tall, thin them to 2 to 4 inches apart..
Transplanting Chamomile Seedlings
If you started your chamomile seeds indoors, it’s time to transplant them outside once they are about 2 to 4 inches apart and have developed a few true leaves.
Choose a sunny spot in your garden, and prepare the soil as described earlier.
Carefully remove the seedlings from the seed tray, preserving their roots, and plant them in their new location. Space them about 8 to 10 inches apart to ensure adequate room for growth.
Growing Chamomile in Containers
Chamomile plants can be successfully grown indoors in containers, provided they receive at least 4 to 6 hours of bright sunlight daily.
Choose a well-draining potting mix for your container and make sure it has drainage holes to prevent overwatering. Monitor the moisture level regularly, and water when the top inch of the soil feels dry.
Growing Chamomile as Ground Cover
Chamomile can be an attractive and beneficial ground cover. To use it in this way, plant the seedlings about 6 inches apart in a sunny location.
As they grow, they’ll create a dense, low-maintenance mat with fragrant foliage and flowers.
Companion Planting for Chamomile
Chamomile is an excellent companion plant for a vegetable garden, as it can attract beneficial insects and repel pests.
Some good vegetable companions for chamomile include cabbage, cucumbers, and onions.
Avoid planting chamomile near legumes, as they may negatively affect legume growth.
Choosing a Chamomile Variety
There are two primary species of chamomile: Matricaria recutita (German chamomile) and Chamaemelum nobile (Roman chamomile).
German chamomile is an annual with a more potent fragrance and a greater yield of flowers for teas, while Roman chamomile is a perennial ground cover plant with a milder aroma.
To decide which variety is right for your garden, consider your climate, desired uses, and personal preferences.
Caring for Your Chamomile Plants
Chamomile is a drought-tolerant plant, so it requires minimal watering. However, you should ensure the soil is slightly moist during the initial stages of growth.
Once your chamomile is established, water it only during times of prolonged drought. Overwatering can lead to weakly flavored foliage and fewer flowers.
Temperature Requirements for Chamomile
Chamomile prefers a moderate climate and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures.
However, it thrives best in a location with full sunlight, as it helps the plant produce more flowers. Make sure you plant chamomile in a spot that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth.
Feeding Chamomile Plants
When it comes to fertilizing your chamomile plants, less is more. Excessive use of fertilizer may result in an abundance of foliage instead of flowers.
A light application of a balanced, organic fertilizer is all you need to nourish your chamomile plants.
Avoid overfeeding, as this can lead to a weak overall plant with less potency and a diminished aroma.
Regular pruning will help promote the growth and appearance of your chamomile plants.
Pinch off the tips of the stems to encourage bushier growth, and remove any dead or yellowing leaves to maintain a healthy plant.
Snip off the flowers as they fade, which is known as deadheading, to keep your chamomile producing fresh blooms.
Maintaining Chamomile Lawn Replacement
If you’ve chosen to use chamomile as an eco-friendly and low-maintenance lawn replacement, you’ll need to take good care of it.
Regularly mow the lawn to keep it healthy and create a lush, green mat. Keep an eye out for any bald patches and fill them in with additional chamomile plugs.
Treat any weeds that appear, and ensure that the soil has proper drainage to prevent waterlogging. With a bit of care, your chamomile lawn will look vibrant and add a delightful fragrance to your outdoor space.
Pest and Disease Management
Chamomile is a resilient and hardy herb, but it can still be affected by pests and diseases. In this section, we’ll look at common chamomile pests and how to deal with chamomile diseases.
Common Chamomile Pests
Several pests can affect chamomile, including:
- Aphids: These small insects can damage your chamomile plant by sucking its sap. You can remove them by spraying your plant with a strong stream of water or introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs.
- Mealybugs: White, cottony growths on your chamomile plant may indicate the presence of mealybugs. You can control them by using insecticidal soap or releasing parasitic wasps.
- Thrips: Tiny, slender insects that can damage chamomile by feeding on its leaves. To manage thrips, remove any affected plant parts, use yellow sticky traps, or introduce beneficial insects like lacewings.
When dealing with pests, always look for natural and eco-friendly solutions first. Many herbs, including chamomile, attract beneficial insects that can help control pests in your garden.
Dealing with Chamomile Diseases
Chamomile is susceptible to a couple of diseases:
- Powdery Mildew: A fungal infection that results in a white, powdery coating on leaves and stems. To prevent powdery mildew, ensure proper air circulation around your chamomile plants and avoid excessive moisture. You can also use a homemade spray made from water and baking soda to manage powdery mildew.
- Botrytis: This fungal disease causes gray, moldy growths on the plant. Ensure proper air circulation, and remove any affected plant parts to prevent further infection.
Remember, the key to successful pest and disease management is maintaining a healthy growing environment for your chamomile plants. Monitor your plants regularly and take action if you notice any signs of pests or diseases.
Harvesting and Storing Your Chamomile
Harvesting Chamomile Flowers
To harvest chamomile flowers, it’s best to do so in the morning after the dew evaporates but before the heat of the day sets in. This ensures that the flowers are dry and will not take longer to dry for storage later.
Wait for a few days if it has been raining, as the flowers might be wet and can potentially grow mold if harvested too soon.
When the flowers are fully open, gently pinch them off at the stem using your thumb and forefinger.
Drying and Storing Chamomile
Once you’ve harvested your chamomile flowers, follow these steps to dry and store them:
- Spread the flowers out on a clean, dry surface in a well-ventilated area, preferably away from direct sunlight.
- Turn the flowers over a couple of times a day to ensure even drying.
- The drying process should take about 1-2 weeks. You’ll know the flowers are ready when their petals are crispy and can easily be crumbled.
- Transfer the dried flowers to an airtight container, such as a glass jar. Label the container with the date and type of chamomile (if you’re growing multiple varieties).
- Store the container in a cool, dark, and dry place for up to a year.
Using Your Home-Grown Chamomile
Once you’ve successfully grown your own chamomile flowers, it’s wonderful to take advantage of the various uses they offer.
Using Chamomile in the Kitchen
Now that your chamomile flowers are dried and stored, here are some ideas for using them in your kitchen:
- Tea: Chamomile tea is a popular and soothing herbal beverage. Steep one teaspoon of dried flowers in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then strain and enjoy.
- Culinary seasoning: Sprinkle dried chamomile flowers on salads, yogurt, or oatmeal for added flavor and texture.
- Baking: Incorporate dried chamomile into baked goods like cookies or cakes for a unique and fragrant twist.
Remember to always use your dried chamomile sparingly, as the flavor can be potent. Experiment with various dishes and find your favorite ways to enjoy this versatile herb!
Chamomile Tea and Health Benefits
Chamomile tea is a popular herbal remedy known for its calming effects. To make your own chamomile tea, simply steep the dried flowers in hot water for about 5 minutes. Strain the flowers out and enjoy your soothing, homemade tea. Drinking chamomile tea can help with:
- Upset stomach: Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve digestive issues like indigestion or an upset stomach.
- Insomnia: Chamomile’s mild sedative effect may help improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety, which can be useful if you’re experiencing insomnia.
- Stress relief: The calming properties of chamomile tea can help alleviate stress and create a sense of relaxation after a long day.
Other Uses for Chamomile
Lastly, chamomile flowers can be used in a variety of other ways to enhance your life and home. Some additional uses include:
- Decor: Place a vase of fresh chamomile flowers on your table or windowsill to enjoy their delicate white petals and cheerful yellow disc. Not only will they brighten up your living space, but they also provide a subtle, calming fragrance.
- Herbal blend: Combine dried chamomile flowers with other calming herbs like lavender or lemon balm to create your own soothing herbal blend for teas or potpourri.
- Cooking: Experiment with adding the dried flowers to your culinary creations for a unique flavor. For example, you can use them in baked goods or as a garnish for salads and other dishes.
Growing chamomile is a rewarding experience, as it not only adds beauty to your garden but also offers a range of uses, such as soothing teas and companion planting. With just a bit of patience and care, you can have a thriving chamomile plant in no time.
Remember to care for your plants properly, and you’ll be rewarded with fragrant blooms that can be used in teas, cosmetics, and more. Happy gardening!
Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Chamomile
Growing chamomile can be a delightful addition to your garden, providing not only beautiful flowers but also a soothing herbal tea ingredient. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you on your chamomile planting journey.
Both Roman and German chamomile varieties have their own advantages. German chamomile is an annual plant that grows best in USDA hardiness zones 4-9 and is known for its higher concentration of essential oils. On the other hand, Roman chamomile is a perennial plant that is more tolerant of foot traffic and can be used as a ground cover. Consider your garden’s needs and your preferences when choosing between the two.
While chamomile thrives in full sun, it can also grow in partial shade. Keep in mind that chamomile planted in shaded areas might not produce as many flowers as those in full sun.
Growing chamomile from seed is relatively easy. Start by sowing seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date, or sow them directly outdoors after the last frost. Sprinkle the seeds on the soil surface and lightly cover with soil, as they need some light to germinate. Keep the soil moist, and you should see seedlings emerge within 2-4 weeks.
Roman chamomile can tolerate light foot traffic, making it a good choice for garden paths or between stepping stones. If you’re growing German chamomile, it’s best to place it in an area with less foot traffic, as it has a more delicate structure. Whichever variety you choose, ensure that your chamomile plants have enough space to grow without being trampled.