Wednesday

Chamomile Herb Profile (Anthemis nobilis)

Chamomile Photo

Worshiped by the Egyptians, chamomile has been a favorite in the garden for centuries. Short and lacy, with miniature daisy-like flowers, this half-hardy perennial has many uses both in the garden and out.

Growing Chamomile


Be sure to give chamomile full sun and light, well-drained soil. It thrives in mildly acidic conditions, and the liberal addition of sand is welcome. Keep it moist in the heat of summer. Plant seedlings at least six inches apart for most varieties, although some like to spread out so be sure to read any informational material included with the plants you purchase.

Chamomile can take some punishment. If you have an area that gets foot traffic or occasional abuse like kids rough-housing, it might thrive where other plants have failed. Growing to a height of 12 inches, it is a good choice for borders and along walkways.

If you enjoy camomile tea, which smells and tastes like a pleasant cross between apples and hay, be sure to include a number of plants in your gardening plan to ensure a good harvest -- and give them plenty of space.

Propagating Chamomile


In temperate climates, chamomile self seeds. In areas that experience cold winter temperatures, sew chamomile seeds indoors in spring. You can also propagate plants from cuttings.

Harvesting Chamomile


With a light, sweet fragrance, chamomile is a nice addition to potpourri. Harvest leaves when the plant is mature, and always select flowers that are fully opened. Leaves and flowers dry quickly so don't overestimate drying times. A few hours in the oven (on warm) or in a dehydrator should do it.

Uses for Chamomile


Called a "physician" plant, chamomile has been used to rescue plants that are in a downward spiral. If you have a favorite specimen whose prognosis looks bleak, plant chamomile nearby and you may be surprised to see your sickly plant rallying. (I tried this with a hydrangea a few years ago, and it worked for me.)

Herbal teas seem to be the topic of the hour, so let me add another favorite to the batch. Chamomile tea is relaxing and can be a good nightmare inhibitor if you need one. It can also help get you to sleep at night.

There are any number of uses for camomile as a topical remedy, both as a whitener and to help heal as soothe:

  • Bites
  • Cuts
  • Sunburn
  • Windburn
  • Chafing
  • Inflammation

Chamomile was once so valued for its restorative properties, it was considered one of nine sacred herbs. In the modern garden, it adds texture, fragrance, and tradition to potential problem areas, with a bountiful harvest for crafts and the teapot. Harvesting the small daisy-like flowers of chamomile is one of the delights of herb gardening. You shouldn't miss it.

It also goes by these names in some areas:

  • Manzanilla
  • Ground apple
  • Earth apple

Reference

The first photo in this entry was provided by Lynne Hand. You can view her work at Flickr.com, including a collection of her nature photos.
 Photo 2 - Courtesy of Morguefile.com 

14 comments:

  1. How do I keep the plants blooming. Cut them back or just harvest the flowers? Rhanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. How can I kep the chamomile blooming? Cut it back or just harvest the blossoms? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Can this plant be grown indoors?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Melanie,

    You can grow chamomile indoors, but the plants will probably never reach their full height and may not flower well, if at all. The plants(s) will need six hours if sun, which can be a tall order. Another option is to start them indoors from seed and then put them outdoors in a pot in spring.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous4:53:00 AM

    I am trying to grow a chamoline lawn, well just a small corner.How can I make them grow/spread faster?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have a beautiful plant...its a double flower..can I harvest & use this in the same way> The greenary is like a carpet..& smells wonderful...
    thanks

    ReplyDelete
  7. Earthstar,

    I'm not sure what type of plant you have. Your best bet is to take it to a local nursery for identification before attempting to use it in your cooking (tea) projects.

    You could also try contacting your local USDA Cooperative Extension Office. They (or others) may be able to identify it using a photo.

    Sara

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks Sara,
    It said on the seed packet double flower chamomile. I have harvested the flowers, & dried them, they smell divine, will be using them in the cushions i make rather than in tea or cooking. I also have some oil. I have harvested lavender & dried it in the same way, I make the cushion fill it with 'wadding' add the plant & some oil. I will take your advice though before I use them for anything else. The plant is prolific, so many flowers. Thanks..xxx

    ReplyDelete
  9. Earthstar,

    Your cushions sound wonderful. What a great gift to give!

    Sara

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous5:18:00 PM

    Sandra O. March7,2012
    Is Chamomile in the same family as Rag Weed? I'm allergic to R.W.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yep, they're both members of the plant family Asteraceae. I don't know that this necessarily means you'll be allergic, though. You might want to check with your doctor.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous2:57:00 PM

    I have a chamomile plant and I am not allergic to it at all. This is coming from one who's had severe outdoor allergies her whole life

    ReplyDelete

Share some ideas.