Growing Herbs

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How to Grow Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)

  • Plant: perennial, hardy to 20o
  • Height: 3.12 inches
  • Soil: moist, well drained
  • Exposure: sun, semi-shade
  • Propagation: seeds, divisions
  • Uses: tea, ground cover

How to Grow Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)

There are several species of Anthemis, but A. nobilis, called Roman or English chamomile, is the one used most often in herb gardens. It is perennial and evergreen, growing in a soft-textured mat 10cm high when not blooming but rising to 30cm high when the flowers are allowed to develop. Its aromatic leaves are a light, bright green and finely cut, resembling fingers on a hand. The summer-blooming flowers have white daisy-like rays and yellow centers. Chamomile is a creeping herb and the stems root themselves as they spread. When mowed, chamomile makes a good lawn substitute.

Roman chamomile, or ground apple, has always had an important part in herb gardens. When bruised or walked on, it emits a delightful fragrance; Shakespeare's Falstaff says of it, "the more it is trodden on the faster it grows," and it has been a traditional ground cover over garden paths and walks. Old-fashioned garden seats of earth also were covered with chamomile. A popular belief held that chamomile was the garden's doctor and when planted near sick or dying plants it would cure them. The flowers are used to flavour a dry Spanish sherry, and a tea brewed from the flowers has been taken for nervousness.

Chamomile grows best in sun or semi-shade and moist, light, well drained soil. It does not seem to last long in dry summer areas, and brass buttons (Cotula squalida) is often substituted for it there. Sow seeds in the early spring or late fall. Once plants are established they will spread by runners and can be divided for additional plantings.

If you love beauty, get flowers by post and select from a wide variety of fresh, vibrant arrangements.

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