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 yet again our plans are bearing fruit. This is why I am happily sharing insights on how to harvest chamomile and how to dry chamomile flowers…we have a lot of chamomile flowers!
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We made a plan to grow an herbal tea garden and the first of our tea crops are 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
Where to plant chamomile?
The first thing to know about growing chamomile is understanding where to plant chamomile in your garden. You will want to plant chamomile in a sunny, well-drained 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 its 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.
What does a chamomile plant look like?
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, they will be grown and ready to harvest.
When to Harvest Chamomile Flowers
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 and 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.
How to Harvest Chamomile Flowers
The first step in harvesting camomile is to gently pinch the stem of the plant, just below the flower head, with your left (or non-dominant) hand.
Next, place your forefinger 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 flowers and 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 be used for making chamomile tea and baking lemon chamomile shortbread cookies.
How to Dry Chamomile Flowers
Drying chamomile flowers is very simple to do. To dry the chamomile flowers, place the flower heads between two pieces of cheesecloth, 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.
More Gardening Ideas
Learn everything you need to know about growing and harvesting basil
And, learn how to harvest coriander seeds from your cilantro plants
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Sara Phillips says
We do not have a chamomile plant, but I didn’t realize you could harvest the entire plant!
You are such a naturalist, Jen. I love it! I’ve never even thought about the fact that you can grow your own chamomile! We have an herb garden (or rather, herbs scattered all about a few of our gardens), but I love the thought of an herbal TEA garden!
Thanks Jackie. We’ll have to see how the tea tastes!?!
Kim McD says
I have chamomile growing out of control in my yard, and had no idea what to do with it all or even where to start. Thanks for posting, going to harvest some today!
Awesome! Harvest away and enjoy!
[email protected] says
never would’ve thought of doing this on our own. thanks so much for sharing on #kidsinthekitchen
I put in two plants in the spring. One of them is apparently not chamomile…no flowers…and a strange smell. How do you get the chamomile to spread for future years? Also if you take off the flowers, will it produce more?
I would like to know how to harvest the whole plant and when it is a good time to do that exactly. I have chamomile and it looks like the flowers are done, and the leaves are getting very scraggly. What should I do to harvest? I have the same kind of Chamomile as in your picture,what kind/ breed is that plant- German or Roman?
Thank you for your support.
Hi Kathelleen – We are growing Roman chamomile. I have never tried harvesting the entire plant, only the flowers. I find that our chamomile has a large bloom in early summer and after I harvest the flowers it continues to bloom – only a few blooms at a time. I have found that harvesting the flowers repeatedly has helped my chamomile stay green longer. However, if your chamomile is looking tired, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to cut it back. Hope that helps.
[email protected] says
This was just what I was looking for. I’m going to harvest my first “crop” right now, thank you!
Enjoy your harvest. Thanks for stopping by.