The sun has been shining brightly on our little backyard garden and as a result, our plants are growing beautifully. All of our springtime planning and planting is paying off. Over the years we have made many different plans for growing a home garden and this yet again our plans are bearing fruit.
We made a plan to grow an herbal tea garden and the first of our tea crop is ready to be harvested…chamomile. I noticed the plant was covered in tiny white and yellow flowers, ready to be plucked. I called my daughters into the garden so that I could teach them how to harvest chamomile.
How to Grow Chamomile
What does a chamomile plant look like? The first thing to know about growing chamomile is understanding what chamomile looks like and where to plant chamomile. You will want to plant chamomile in a sunny, dry spot in the garden. They like the heat. Chamomile can be invasive…which is good if you have a patch of garden that you want to fill. If however, you would like to keep it under control, plant chamomile in a pot or in it’s own garden. Our chamomile has popped up in other garden beds…yep it can be quite invasive. Thankfully, it is easy to control. If chamomile pops up where you don’t want it, simply pull the young plant (before it flowers) and that’s it, the plant is gone.
Chamomile is a beautifully feathery, tall plant. The leaves look similar to dill. In fact, you might think it is dill as it starts to grow. Once you see the stalks divide and the little flower heads appear, you know it isn’t dill.
The signature tiny daisy-like flower heads are the source of much of chamomile’s fragrance and flavour.
How long does chamomile take to grow? Chamomile is a fast grower. You will see the first shoots in late spring and within a few weeks it will be grown and ready to harvest.
How to Harvest Chamomile
The best time to harvest chamomile is a dry day. Harvesting wet flowers might lead to your flowers turning mouldy instead of actually drying nicely. You will know when to harvest chamomile when the flowers are ready to be harvested when the blooms are completely open. The white petals should be fully extended…if they are past this point, and the petals have begun to point downward, you can still harvest the flowers. By harvesting chamomile flowers at their peak point they will have the most essential oils in the flower head.
Next, place your fore finger and middle finger under the head of the camomile flower…between the flower head and your other pinched fingers. My daughter was most comfortable facing her hand downward. I preferred turning my palm up. Whichever way you are comfortable will work.
Gently pull and pop the flower head off. It is quite simple to do…they really do pop right off. In a few moments you will have harvested all of the open chamomile flower clean flower heads. Be sure to leave behind any heads that have not come into bloom…these will be your next crop. By removing the blooming heads the chamomile plant will reward you with many, many more flowers.
What to do with chamomile flowers?
Now you have a pile of chamomile flowers and you’re probably wondering what to do with them. Well, there are plenty of things to do with chamomile flowers. We are planning on drying our chamomile to use for making chamomile tea and to bake chamomile cookies with.
How to Dry Chamomile Flowers
Drying chamomile flowers is very simple to do. To dry the flowers, simply place them between two pieces of cheese cloth, or paper towel, in a dry spot. Make sure you have dusted off any dirt or sand…the flowers must be clean. The flowers will take about a week to dry, depending on the humidity in your home. Once the chamomile flowers are dry, store them in an air tight jar until ready to use.
Do you grow chamomile in your garden? Do you have any tips for us? Feel free to share your tips in the comments below.
Looking for more gardening tips…
Bake a batch of delicate and buttery chamomile & lemon shortbread cookies
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