Chamomile or camomile is the common name for several daisy-like plants of the family Asteraceae that are commonly used to make herb infusions to serve various medicinal purposes. Popular uses of chamomile preparations include treating hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasm, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, gastrointestinal disorder, and hemorrhoids.
HOW TO GROW
Plant chamomile seeds indoors in late winter. Fill a celled planting tray with damp potting mixture. Level and firm the potting soil with the back of an old spoon.
- Plant 2 or 3 chamomile seeds in each cell, then cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting mixture.
- Cover the planting tray with a clear plastic grocery bag. Place the celled planting tray in moderate light, but don’t place it in front of a window. The light will become too intense when it’s magnified through the glass. A spot a few feet from a sunny window is bright enough.
- Check the chamomile seeds every day. If the potting mix appears dry, mist lightly with a spray bottle. Keep the soil moist at all times, as dry soil causes a disease called “damping off,” which will kill the chamomile seeds.
- Remove the plastic and move the planting tray to a sunny window when the chamomile seeds germinate. If you don’t have a sunny window, put the planting tray under 2 fluorescent light bulbs, then turn on the lights for at least 14 hours every day. Normal room temperatures are warm enough, but don’t place the planting tray near a drafty door or window.
- Thin the chamomile seedlings when the tiny plants are about 2 inches (1/2 cm) high, leaving only one healthy seedling in each cell. To thin the chamomile seedlings, pinch the seedling off at ground level. Don’t pull the seedling, as you may disturb the roots of the chamomile plant you’re keeping.
- Pinch the growing tip from each chamomile seedling. Pinching the tip will cause the seedlings to branch out and create a bushier plant.
- Chamomile grows best in cool conditions and should be planted in part shade, but will also grow full sun. The soil should be dry.
- Once your chamomile is established, it needs very little care. Like most herbs, chamomile grows best when it is not fussed over. Too much fertilizer will result in lots of weakly flavored foliage and few flowers.
- Chamomile is drought tolerant and only needs to be watered in times of prolonged drought
- For the most part, chamomile is not affected by many pests. It is often recommended as a companion plant to plant in the vegetable garden as its strong scent often keeps pests away. That being said, a chamomile plant weakened by lack of water or other issues may be attacked by aphids, mealybugs or thrips.
- People use German chamomile to treat irritation from chest colds, slow-healing wounds, abscesses, gum inflammation, and skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, chickenpox, and diaper rash. For these conditions, you use chamomile in an infusion or bath, or as a tincture, which is a concentrated extract mixed with alcohol.
- People use Roman chamomile as a tea to treat an upset stomach, sleeping problems, or menstrual pain.