- Jul 9, 2012
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Besides being beautiful to look at, this herb tastes (and smells!) delicious. Chamomile can be brewed as a tea, used as an essential oil, or steeped in a nice bath....however, you like to use it, try growing some this year! It's worth the effort.
Among its many benefits are its benefits as an aesthetic, medicinal, and culinary plant. Chamomile is a member of the plant family Asteraceae, which also includes marigolds and sunflowers.
Chamomile has a taste profile that can be described as herbal, fruity, and smooth when consumed. A lot of people compare the taste of this herb to that of apples, and indeed it is one of the most underrated herbs.
Chamomile Has Many Health Benefits.The history of chamomile is rich. In ancient Egypt, it was first used as a cosmetic and as a fever reducer. Then chamomile was later used as a medicinal herb by the Romans as well as a flavoring herb for beverages.
In Medieval times, chamomile was used ceremoniously to add a pleasant aroma. Similarly to how hops are used today, it has also been used in the production of beer to enhance its flavor.
Chamomile has been shown to be effective in the following ways:
- Stress relief
- As a sleeping aid
- Improving your mood by reducing anxiety
- Skin health enhancement and improvement
- Digestive aid
- Immune system improvement
- Heart health enhancement
- Cholesterol reduction
- Taking care of eczema
- Treating hemorrhoids
- Accelerating and improving wound healing
What are the side effects of Chamomile?Not at all. Unless you're allergic to flowers in the daisy family, you shouldn't have any problems with chamomile. If you are allergic to chrysanthemums, daisies, ragweed, or marigolds, stay away from it.
If you are going in for surgery, you should also avoid consuming large amounts of chamomile. This herb contains small amounts of coumarin, a known blood thinner. Chamomile should be avoided if you're pregnant, as there is not much research as to whether it is safe.
Chamomile VarietiesIn a herb garden, what type of chamomile is best? Below are some options to consider.
German and Roman chamomile are the two types of chamomile that are most commonly used for essential oils, teas, and household uses.
Often referred to as English chamomile, Roman chamomile is often regarded as "true chamomile." This plant grows best in partial shade in zones 4-11 as a perennial ground cover. It will only grow to a maximum height of one foot.
German chamomile is an annual that self-sows. This plant is taller, up to two feet tall, and doesn't spread like Roman chamomile. The leaves and stems of the plant resemble ferns.
If you're planting chamomile and deciding between German and Roman varieties, you'll need to know both have chamazulene, the essential oil you want. There is more of it in German chamomile, but both have a sweet smell and are useful for relieving headaches and other ailments
Chamomile plants or seeds you’re likely to find fall into one of these categories if you’re looking for them. You should keep in mind, however, that many other species have chamomile in their common names, but they are not in the same family and shouldn't be grown the same way. For example:
- Scentless chamomile
- Field chamomile
- Stinking chamomile
- Moroccan chamomile
- Golden chamomile
- Yellow chamomile
- Oxeye chamomile
- Dyer’s chamomile
- Cape chamomile
- Wild chamomile
What Are the Best Places to Grow Chamomile?Chamomile can be grown just about anywhere, but you need to choose the right type in order to be successful. You can grow chamomile in zones 3 to 11, and it will be perennial in zones 4 to 9 (if you select Roman chamomile).
Starting Chamomile from SeedChamomiles can be sown directly in the garden, or they can be started indoors and transplanted when the weather warms up. You may be able to grow German chamomile more successfully if you start it inside. They are seeds that require light to germinate, making it difficult to start by seed if you do not have absolute control.
Sprinkle the seed over moist potting mix, and mix it lightly into the soil. Don't cover it fully because this will make it too dark. To provide the delicate chamomile seeds with adequate light, you can use standard fluorescent lamps. You may also consider making a fan oscillate in front of the seedlings to keep them aerated.
In about seven to fourteen days, seeds will become seedlings. You can often get them to germinate faster if you use a good propagation medium. Consider using Oasis Rootcubes or Grodan Stonewool for this.
You can transplant your seeds outside once your seeds have grown into seedlings and the danger of frost has passed - usually in May or June. As soon as the seedlings are established in the soil, they become quite hardy.
Transplanting ChamomileFertile, well-draining soil is best for growing chamomile. A sunny spot, like the one at the end of a raised bed or vegetable row, is ideal. In the spring, add lots of aged compost to your soil for extra fertilizer.
Transplant your seedlings only after the danger of frost has passed. Young seedlings can survive mild spring forests, but they might not survive a harsher winter. Nonetheless, chamomile has been known to survive through the winter in some mild climates.
Chamomile grows well with companion plants such as:
- Leafy greens
Your spring-flowering flowers, herbs, and greens will not be hindered by its strong aroma, which repels pests. Your chamomile plant will only be bothered by rabbits. It is known that Chamomile increases the production of essential oils in other plants it is planted with.
Make sure you space your chamomile plants about eleven inches apart, with rows nine inches apart.
How To Care For Your Chamomile PlantChamomile has very few problems you will have to deal with. Occasionally, you may find aphids and mealybugs infesting your plants, but you can control them manually by removing them and dumping them in soapy water as soon as you see them. Keeping good watering habits can also help prevent pest problems.
Water your plants regularly, but don't overdo it. You can let the soil beneath your chamomile almost completely dry out before watering - just give it a good soak when it's time. It is common for people to water their chamomile plants only during prolonged periods of drought.
As a perennial, chamomile will spread rapidly, so be careful where you plant it! If you don't have enough space for a garden, you can grow it in a container. The plant self-sows freely and attracts bees, butterflies, and birds.
The herb doesn't need much fertilizer and will thrive even in poor soil. Before planting, check your soil's pH, which should be between 5.6 and 7.5. Compost tea can be used if your pH is not between these levels.
Harvesting ChamomileThe height of a chamomile plant can range from 12 to 30 inches, depending on the variety.
Harvesting this herb is unique because you harvest its blossoms instead of its leaves, stems, or roots as you would with other plants. As they appear, you will collect the daisy-like white flowers. As long as the flowers are blooming, you can harvest them, and the more often you harvest, the more flowers you will have.
You should pick the blossoms as soon as they are fully open - before the petals droop. It is possible to harvest them early or late, but their potency will be reduced. The best time to harvest is in the morning after any dew has dried but before the midday sun has begun to beat down on the flowers.
Pick up the flowers by pinching the heads with your fingers. You will need your other hand to hold the stem of the plant while removing the flowerhead from the stem. Take care not to rip it off!
You may have some self-seeding if you don't harvest the blossoms when they are open. It's not a bad thing! Chamomile will be even more abundant next year because of it.
Chamomile's culinary and medicinal usesShake the flowers and check for dirt and insects before drying them. It's not necessary to wash the flowers, but you can. Simply lay them flat in a single layer and place them in a warm, dark place for two weeks to airdry. Alternatively, you can dehydrate them for 12 to 18 hours in a dehydrator.
When the petals are dried, you can store them in a jar. A cup of boiling water and two to three tablespoons of dried chamomile can be combined to make tea. The same technique can be used to make chamomile tea bags.
You can also make chamomile into a salve, sleep pillow, or tea to help calm your body. The best way to use it is to apply it directly to your skin or drop the petals into a hot bath.
How Can I Get Chamomile Plants?If you can't find chamomile plants at your local nursery, you can order seeds on Amazon. For a perennial crop next year, you can plant in the fall, too!
So there you have it. Everything you need to know about growing chamomile. What are your favorite ways to use chamomile, both in and out of the kitchen? Leave your comments below.