This week we are taking a look at a plant that has a common name shared between two different species – Chamomile. With it’s cheery white and yellow daisy-like flowers typical of the Daisy Family (Asteracae) flowering from late spring to midsummer, this plant is a delightful addition to any garden. The two main types of chamomile can be perennial (Chamaemelum nobile) or annual (Matricaria recutita). More information about the species can be found below.
Cultivation & Care
The cultivation and care requirements differ slightly between the two main species of Chamomile so I have included them separately below.
Matricaria recutita is the annual species of chamomile and can grow to up 50 cm in height. While it lives and dies in just 1 year, it does self-sow so more plants will sprout the following year, just be sure to keep an eye on where the seedlings pop up as this species does enjoy taking over the garden.
As for cultivation, this species grows well in a well-drained soil, in a sunny spot. Preferring neutral to slightly acidic soils, M. recutita will also succeed in poor soils.
This species is the evergreen, perennial counterpart of M. recutita. Growing up to 20 cm high, this species can be used as a low maintenance, environmentally and wildlife friendly lawn alternative. Tolerant of most soils, so long as they are well-drained, C. nobile prefers sandy soil in a sunny position. Partial shade will also be tolerated and once established the plants will be drought tolerant. Very wet or cold winters can cause plants to deteriorate, however come springtime they will recover.
Chamomile flowers can be used dried or fresh to make a calming herbal tea. The flavour is usually sweeter when using fresh flowers. I often enjoy some chamomile before bed to calm myself into a sweet slumber. You can also combine the herb with chopped up ginger and together they can help when you have a cold or the flu.
Wildlife & Eco Gardens can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Both species can be used to great effect as a liquid feed or plant tonic which can prove effective against various plant diseases. There are also fungicidal qualities present in the plant which can prove useful in preventing damping off disease in seedlings. An effective insect repellent can also be made using all parts of the plant. Anyone interested in natural dyes will be pleased to discover that yellow to gold dyes can be obtained from the flowers.
Growing chamomile is great for attracting various insects to the garden ranging from bees, hover flies, butterflies to many different species of beetle. It can also function as a plant to distract typical garden pests like black fly away from plants you wouldn’t like them to eat.