Chamomile is renowned for it's calming properties, and can't we all use a bit of soothing these days. Curling up in a big comfy chair with a book and steaming cup of chamomile tea is high on my list of priorities recently. Besides being a fantastic relaxer, chamomile is also super simple to grow indoors. Even those short on time, energy, and motivation can easily grow chamomile in a kitchen window-box.
This herb doesn't just have healing properties when steeped for a tea; it also blooms beautiful small flowers. It's not fancy, bold, or super colorful, but that's what makes it so wonderful. The flowers are many-petaled, small, and white with a bright yellow center. They look like little daisies, a brilliant dash of simple happiness bursting into the room. There is always space for humble, unembellished elegance in our lives.
Traditional folk medicine remedies include chamomile as a treatment for many ailments. Research is still being done in the scientific community to explore these uses, with much promise.
Benefits of Chamomile Tea
- Soothes and relaxes nerves
- Relieves stress
- Alleviates pain from menstrual cramps
- Calms upset stomachs
- Eases muscle spasms
- Facilitates restful sleep
- Improves lack of appetite
- Morning sickness
Types of Chamomile
The two main types of chamomile are German and Roman (or English). Their medicinal benefits are the same, and they both produce abundant white and yellow flowers. The big difference is how they grow. The annual German chamomile grows between 1-2 feet tall. The perennial Roman chamomile is low-lying and often used as a ground cover. Growing methods for both are the same, so you can follow the planting instructions here, no matter which one you get. You'll need to know which type it is, though, so you can choose an appropriate potting container.
How To Grow Chamomile Indoors
- Choose a pot with drainage holes, and fill it with a high-quality organic potting soil.
- Wet the soil thoroughly. Let it drain.
- Spread the seeds lightly over the soil. They are small and virtually impossible to plant individually. Don't worry about spreading too many; they can be thinned later.
- Press the seeds into the soil without covering them completely.
- Place the container in a south-facing window, where it will get at least 6 hours of sun per day.
- The seeds need temperatures around 68°F to germinate. If your house is cold, use a heating pad under the pot or place the container near a heat source.
- Mist the soil every day, so it is moist without being soggy.
- In approximately 2 weeks, the seeds will sprout.
- Once the seedlings are 3-4” tall, then thin them to 8” apart for ideal growth.
How To Care For Your Indoor Chamomile Plants
Water once a week or so when the top of the soil feels dry. Do not overwater, though, or you will drown them. Chamomile is drought-tolerant, so it is better to err on the side of dry rather than overly wet. Chamomile plants are best in a south-facing window; they need that daily sun. There is no need to fertilize chamomile. In fact, doing so may negatively affect the flowers' potency.
Harvesting Chamomile Flowers For Use
Chamomile flowers will be ready to harvest in approximately 60-80 days. Consider planting several containers of chamomile a few weeks apart so you'll be able to enjoy the blooms for a long time. And, you'll have more to harvest!
- When the flowers begin blooming, they can be harvested. It is best to wait, though. The potency will be stronger, plus you'll get to enjoy the blooms longer.
- Only harvest flowers that are fully spread out, flat, not curled towards the center (this means they're still growing), and don't have spaces between them.
- Pick the droopy flowers first.
- Pop the flowers off the stem by pulling the top gently.
- Chamomile flowers can be air-dried, dried with a dehydrator, or done in an oven on low temperature.
- Store them in an airtight container, like a glass jar with a lid, when they are thoroughly dry.
- Do not crush the flowers until you are ready to use them.
A Simple Chamomile Tea Recipe
An added bonus to the already numerous wonders of chamomile is the way it smells. The flowers are fragrant like apples, and they make such an enjoyable tea.
- Crush flowers and combine them with boiling water.
- Let steep for five minutes. Do not steep too long, or the tea will become bitter.
- Remove the flowers.
- Add a sweetener of choice.
- Pick up a book or magazine, curl up on the couch, and enjoy your tea!