Knowing how to grow chamomile is a surefire way to fill your garden with daisy-like blooms from late spring to early autumn. These cheery white flowers with bright yellow centers have been popular since the Middle Ages. They attract pollinators into the garden and have many medicinal and culinary uses.
The two best-known types are German chamomile – with its larger white blooms perched on 90cm high stems – and Roman chamomile with its dark green creeping mat of leaves reaching just 30cm tall and tiny delicate flowers. Both plants are highly scented and are high in antioxidants and essential oils.
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum Nobile) is a perennial and will grow yearly. In comparison, German chamomile (Matricaria Recutita) is an annual that will naturally die after flowering and grow back the following year. Both types are suitable as container plants, as long as they have their preferred soil type and the containers are raised off the ground to encourage good water drainage. Chamomile is best grown in a sunny, open position. These plants require very little attention once their roots establish a good foundation. While Roman chamomile prefers free-draining and relatively fertile soils, the more rigid and taller German chamomile is less fussy and will thrive in poor, heavy clay soils. There are endless opportunities to bring these dainty beauties into your yard.
Harvesting the flowerheads in the early morning is best when the flowers are newly opened.
Snip the flowerheads off at the very top of the stem.
Spread out to dry somewhere warm and well-ventilated but out of direct sunlight.
Once completely dried, store the flowerheads in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
Use the dried chamomile flowers to make tea, baking, or homemade beauty products.
Avoid using the leaves and stems, as these are particularly bitter.
Dried blooms have a much more concentrated scent and flavor than fresh ones, so use sparingly. A teaspoon of dried flowers will provide the same potency as a couple of teaspoons of fresh flowers. Crushing the dried flowers will help intensify the flavor further.