Grow Chamomile for Tea

comments (6) August 20th, 2009

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Ruth Ruth Dobsevage, member
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German chamomile. Photo by Musskiprozz under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. 
German chamomile is a cheerful herb.
Chamomile flowers are just beginning to form. They are very small, but also very aromatic.
German chamomile. Photo by Musskiprozz under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Click To Enlarge

German chamomile. Photo by Musskiprozz under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. 

Camomile, or chamomile, as it is more commonly spelled today, has been used since ancient times as a cure for digestive and other ailments. Medicinal qualities aside, chamomile flowers steeped in hot water make a very relaxing tea, perfect for sipping on a quiet evening or a rainy afternoon. This year, I decided to grow some chamomile in my own garden.

I ordered some seeds of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). German chamomile is a member of the daisy family, and its flowers look like miniature daisies. It's a bright green, feathery annual that grows best in full sun. I planted the seeds outdoors after danger of frost, and a couple of months later, the flowers appeared.

  The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

"I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening. His mother put him to bed, and made some camomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter! 'One teaspoonful to be taken at bed-time.' But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries, for supper."

—from The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902) by Beatrix Potter
When the flowers are at peak bloom, I snip them off and let them dry on a wire screen in a cool place. Tea can be brewed from fresh or dried flowers.

I harvest frequently, so the plants will continue to bloom. I like to pick every evening, even if I get only a few flowers (it's a very small patch). I do this after I make a pass through the blackberry patch to look for newly ripe fruit. So I am able to offer a soothing tea to those who need one or a blackberry dessert to those whose spirits are untroubled.

Just like Peter Rabbit's mother.

Sources for German chamomile seeds

Fedco Seeds

Paula's Herbs and Plants

Park Seed Company

Seed Savers Exchange

June 2010 update
I'm happy to report that my chamomile wintered over and is already in full flower. I'm picking flower buds every sunny day and looking forward to a lots and lots of soothing tea once again.

posted in: herbs

Comments (6)

DonnaCox writes: This is very useful for our health.
Posted: 3:27 am on October 14th
harjotsingh25 writes: This is veryu useful our health.
Posted: 6:07 am on August 18th
DaphneGould writes: I've grew chamomile for the first time last year. When I got tired of picking it (probably the end of August or so) I let the best plants go to seed. The next spring it came up just fine. I don't remember if I had any germination in the fall. I didn't pay much attention. I let my cilantro, dill and parsley self seed too and sometimes they do germinate a bit in the fall, but there is always plenty of seed left to germinate in the spring.
Posted: 3:52 pm on August 20th
Kate_Frank writes: Ooh, good question, and Ruth's answer about not wanting the seeds to grow now makes a lot of sense. Do you have enough to broadcast some in the fall and some more in the spring? That's what I would do if I couldn't find a final answer. You could also post it in our community section and we will put it in our "Ask a Garden Question" blog:
Posted: 2:23 pm on August 20th
Ruth writes: No, I don't. Several sources say that chamomile reseeds readily if allowed to, but you don't want to have it come up now but not live long enough to form flowers and seeds, or you won't get anything next year. Perhaps you should just save the seeds next year and broadcast them in the spring. Can anyone else out there provide more specific info?
Posted: 1:59 pm on August 20th
GartenGrl writes: I just collected some chamomile seeds from a friends garden in the hopes of growing some next year...I live in a northern you know the best time to broadcast these for optimum chance of growing some next year?
Posted: 1:06 pm on August 20th
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