Best Herbs to Grow Series: How to Grow Chamomile officinalis
Even if your not a herbalist, planting, nurturing and harvesting your own herbs and using them for medicinal purposes is one of the most satisfying things you can do! We have been growing our own herbs for over 20 years and some of the best herbs to grow in our medicinal garden are the easiest. The next herb in our series is one of the simplest , colourful and fun herbs to grow: Chamomile officinalis
Chamomile officinalis also known as Chamomilla recutitia, has a medicinal history going back to the the ancient Egyptian times. It’s also considered the garden’s healer and is often grown in gardens just to improve the health of all the other plants!
Chamomile is a delightful herb and one of the best herbs to grow in your medicinal garden. There are two varieties: Roman Chamomile is a perennial and grows to about 30 cm’s/ 1 ft in height and then there is German Chamomile which is an annual and grows taller reaching up to 1 metre/ 3 ft in height. The latter is the common variety which I think, makes the best tasting tea. Its pretty edible flowers, appear in the summer amidst feathery green foliage. The leaves are also edible , but taste bitter.
Chamomile is popular in tea, either on its own or in a blend with other herbs. Chamomile is great for helping relieve insomnia and and is a useful medicinal aid for indigestion, stomach cramps and flatulence. It’s also good for anxiety, nausea, colic and teething pain.
How to grow chamomile
Chamomile officinalis is another herb like the calendula herb that is one of the best herbs to grow, either directly in your herb bed or in a container. You can even place a chamomile plant in a pot beside your bed, as its delicate, sweet scent will help send you off to sleep.
Chamomile enjoys a sunny position in rich soil that is well drained. Sow the seeds in late spring, by scattering them on the surface and covering the seeds with a thin layer of raked soil. The seedlings will be peeping out within a fortnight! Keep them about 30 cm’s/ 1 ft apart to allow them sufficient space to grow. It’s also worth noting that chamomile self-seeds very easily, and will reappear each year as long as you keep the ground well fed.
Caring for your chamomile
Chamomile needs very little attention. If you are growing your plants in containers, keep them watered with periodic feeds of organic fertiliser.
Using your chamomile
As soon as the flower-heads are out, they can be harvested. The flower-heads can be placed in herbal teas and used as a pretty addition to your summer salads. To preserve the flower-heads for use in the winter months, place them on a dry flat area in a well ventilated spot where the humidity is low. When they are completely dry, place them in an airtight jar in a dark cupboard.
Chamomile flowers can be ground in a mortar and pestle and used topically as a paste to treat burns, rashes and skin infections and can be liberally sprinkled in a bath of warm water to help with the pain from cystitis and menstrual cramps. Chamomile can also be used in a steam inhaler if you are suffering a bad bout of hayfever, although I haven’t personally tried this, it’s known to work wonders!
Natural Mother’s Soothing Tisane
- Linden flowers 1 part
- Chamomile 2 parts
- Catnip 1 part
- Lemon balm 1 part
- Stevia ¼ part
Natural Mother’s Sleepy-Time Tisane
- Valerian 40%
- Chamomile 30%
- Speramint 20%
- Catnip 10%
What to do
After you have dried the herbs above, blend the herbs together and keep them in an airtight jar in a dark cupboard.
Take a saucepan, put in your dried chamomile flowers-the exact amount is up to you, I use a couple of handfuls. Add 125 ml/4.3 fl oz of olive oil and heat over the lowest possible heat for a minimum of 4 hours. I try to keep it going for around 14 hours. When infused, drain off the oil and use this in your healing salve recipe. If you find you have some left over, chamomile oil is wonderful to massage into your belly when suffering menstrual cramps.
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Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for educational purposes only, although every effort is made to provide accurate and up-to-date information. Unless otherwise noted, the articles at this website are not written by doctors or other health care professionals. If you are concerned about your health, or that of your child, consult with your health care provider regarding the advisability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your individual situation.