Chamomile

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At the end of a long stressful day, what one desires is a nice restful sleep. In order to get that, one of the go-to solutions is to have a soothing cup of chamomile tea.

When buying chamomile tea at a store, we look out for different brands of the tea, not different types of chamomile. Those who choose to grow their own chamomile are more likely to learn about the different types of chamomile seeds and plants.

With its many similarities and differences, the two main varieties of chamomile are Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Other known varieties of chamomile include Moroccan chamomile (Anthemis mixta), Cape chamomile (Eriocephalus punctulatus) and Pineappleweed (Matricaria discoidea). This post focuses on Roman and German chamomile.

The features and benefits of Chamomile are many, some of which might surprise you:

  • Chamomile plants add beauty to a garden as it’s visually pleasing, and have a sweet scent, reminiscent of apples.
  • It is one of the most popular edible wild medicinal plants. Leaves and flowers are both edible but will differ in taste – you can make fresh herbal tea or toss them into a salad.
  • They contain the essential oil ‘chamazulene’ (German chamomile contains a higher concentrate).
  • Chamomile deters garden pests while attracting pollinators – they’re excellent companions for fruits and vegetables.
  • It finds usage medicinally as a mild tranquilizer or sedative, is a natural antiseptic, insect repellent, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-carcinogenic!

Roman chamomile is a low growing perennial ground-cover. It grows to a height of about 12 inches and spreads by rooting stems. Its stems are hairy and produce one flower per stem. The flowers have yellowish rounded discs with white petals. The leaves are fine and feathery.
Native to Northern Africa and Western Europe, the Roman chamomile is commercially grown in Argentina, Belgium, England, France and the United States.

German chamomile is an annual which largely self-sows. It is a more upright plant 24 inches tall and doesn’t spread out like Roman chamomile. The stems branch out, bearing flowers and thicker foliage. The flowers have white petals which droop down from hollow yellow cones. Native to Europe and Asia, it is cultivated for commercial use in Egypt, France, and Eastern Europe.

Growing chamomile

  • Chamomile grows best in cool conditions – while it ought to be planted in part shade, it will also grow in the sun though hot dry weather is considered unfavorable.
  • The soil should be dry.
  • It should be planted in the last frost days before spring. Flowering takes approximately 10 weeks.
  • It is relatively easy to grow chamomile herb in your garden by propagating from divisions or even using seeds.
  • Once the plant has flourished, minimal care is required. It grows best when not fussed over.
  • Excessive use of fertilizer weakens the flavor of the foliage and reduces flowering.
  • Chamomile is drought tolerant and is to be watered only in times of prolonged drought.
    Excessive drought and other issues may however cause the plant to be attacked by aphids, thrips or mealybugs.