German chamomile, the variety preferred for making tea, originates in southern and eastern Europe; it has a distinctive apple/pineapple like scent. Ancient authorities such as Hippocrates and Galen wrote of the medical benefits of chamomile, and it remains a popular and effective herbal remedy in modern times. As a tea or infusion, chamomile gives a feeling of relaxation and drowsiness, making it an excellent treatment for insomnia or anxiety. Because of the herb’s antiseptic, anti-inflammatory properties, skin preparations including chamomile benefit conditions such as eczema, rashes, or insect bites. The dried flowers and leaves also make a sweet scented addition to sachets or potpourri.
Sowing: In short growing seasons, chamomile can be started inside; start the seeds in a flat 2-3 weeks before the last spring frost date, and transplant them after the last frost. This herb prefers full sun or partial shade in sandy or well drained soil. For direct sowing, plant the seeds 1/4″ deep in rows 18″ apart, thinning to 6-8″ apart as soon as the seedlings appear. Germination should take place within 1-2 weeks. German Chamomile also grows well as a container plant.
Growing: Chamomile prefers cool temperatures and can tolerate light frost. Keep the soil moist while the seedlings are still developing, and control weeds to promote the plants’ strong growth.
Harvesting: Harvest chamomile as needed as soon as it reaches a desirable size. For the best flavored tea, harvest the chamomile flower heads in the morning as soon as they open. Spread them out to dry for about 2 weeks in a very dry, warm place out of direct sunlight. Store the flower heads in an airtight container.
Seed Saving: Chamomile easily reseeds itself, but the seed can easily be collected. Remove the flower heads when they dry up on the stem; spread them out to finish drying in a protected location out of direct sunlight. Thresh the heads to remove the seed, and store it in a cool dry place for 3-4 years.
Common Names: Italian Camomilla, Hungarian Chamomile, Kamilla, Wild Chamomile or Scented Mayweed
Latin Name: Matricaria recutita
Type: Open Pollinated, Heirloom, Cool Season
Life Cycle: Annual
USDA Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Seeds per Ounce: 50,000
Planting Method: From Transplant
Sunlight: Full Sun
Height: 24 Inches
Color: Green, White
Bloom Season: Blooms Early Summer, Blooms Late Summer
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