More than just a pretty face, chamomile’s dainty, daisy-like flowerheads pack a powerful punch for your health. The name, Chamaemelum, is derived from the Greek Khamaimelon, meaning “earth apple,” and aptly so, since the blooms release a sweet crisp apple scent when crushed.
Grown in your garden or in a container, Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) gives the phrase “flower power” a whole new meaning. Canadiangardening.com spoke with Sandra Pella, head gardener at the Toronto Botanical Garden, to find out how to get the most out of our chamomile plants.
- Soil: Chamomile prefers hot, dry, sunny sites; normal to sandy, well-drained soil is preferred.
- Moisture: Average to dry
- Condition: Full Sun to part shade
- Zone: USDA 4–9
- Bloom time: Early to mid summer, and lasting through June and July
- Container tips: Any regular potting soil will do. Do not overwater the plants in the container, since they prefer the soil to be well drained, on the average to dry side
- Special tips: Deadheading of spent blooms will prolong flowering. Most importantly, DO NOT overwater.
Chamomile flowers generously, so check the plant every few days and pick any blooms that are fully open. First, cut the stem just above the leaf node, and then cut the flowerhead off the stem. Chamomile can be used fresh or dried. If drying, place in a large basket or on a drying rack, out of the sun. Wait until they’re completely dry (should be crispy), which generally takes one to two weeks.
- Soothe an upset stomach
- Calm irritated skin
- Relieve anxiety and insomnia
Did you know?
Chamomile not only boasts healing powers for people, but plants too! Anecdotally referred to as a physician’s plant, it is said to help revive ailing plants sited nearby by improving nutrient availability in the soil.