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What would an herbal tea garden be without chamomile? Missing a very sweet plant!
Type: Annual; perennial
Space Required: 12" (30 cm)
The most common varieties of the chamomile herb are:
Easy to grow from seed, this no-fuss plant is perfect for first-time herbal tea gardeners.
Characteristics: Annual. Long, "leggy", multi-branched stems with sparse, feathery foliage, topped by a daisy-like flower.
Cultivation: Seed or starter plant. Sow seeds in early spring for same-year bloom. Sow in late autumn for next-year flowering. After this herb is established in the garden, it's a prolific self-seeder.
Growing Conditions: Average soil, full sun. Can tolerate a little drought, but blooms best when the soil is kept evenly moist (not water-logged!)
Bloom Time: Early summer to first frost.
Average Height: 12-18" (30-46 cm)
Parts Used for Tea: Blossoms
Taste: Light, apple-y flavor with a hint of pineapple.
Also commonly known as "English Chamomile", this variety makes a resilient, aromatic ground cover - as well as a tasty tea.
FYI: It's no big deal if your hubby runs this plant over with a boat trailer. (Guess how I know!) This herb is a tough little perennial. It'll bounce back pretty quickly.
Characteristics: Perennial. Hardy to -20° F (-29° C). Low-growing, with wispy leaves and small, daisy-like flowers. Unlike the German variety whose scent is primarily in the blossoms, Roman Chamomile's leaves are aromatic, too. They give off a spicy apple fragrance when pinched, stepped on, or clipped by that wayward lawn mower ;-)
Cultivation: Seed, starter plant, or division from a well-established plant. Roman Chamomile seeds germinate more slowly than the German variety. Once established, the plant's stems creep along the ground, rooting and spreading.
Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade. Average, well-draining soil, kept evenly moist.
Bloom Time: Early summer to late autumn.
Average Height: 3-12" (8-30 cm)
Parts Used for Tea: Blossoms
Taste: Delicate apple flavor. To my taste buds, tea made from the Roman variety isn't quite as light and sweet as tea made from the German variety. Your taste buds might disagree, so try both chamomile teas and compare for yourself.
For centuries, chamomile has been touted as a moderate sedative. I'm not sure if there's any scientific proof of chamomile's calming effects. But I can tell you, it sure works for me!
When I'm stressed or having a tough time falling asleep, a warm cup of chamomile tea always does the trick.
It's a good tea for soothing an upset tummy or a scratchy throat, too.
Are you plagued by sinus congestion or a stuffy nose? Just simmer a handful of chamomile in a small pan of water and inhale the warm (not hot!!!) steam.
People with a sensitivity to ragweed or other pollens may be more prone to suffer an allergic reaction to chamomile.
If you have any health issues, or if you're taking any prescription medications or over-the-counter supplements, be sure to check with your medical care provider about possible interactions and side effects before you drink chamomile tea.
Ladies who are pregnant or breast-feeding shouldn't use chamomile without a doctor's permission. And always get the pediatrician's approval before allowing an infant or young child to taste your cammy tea or inhale its vapors!