Chamomile: characteristics and cultivation

Chamomile: characteristics and cultivation

We all know chamomile: that beautiful white daisy that in the common imagination is immediately associated with relaxing herbal teas.

The industry makes extensive use of it, so we find chamomile on the shelves of every supermarket, but why not try to grow these humble precious flowers yourself?

Let's start by saying that the real chamomile (Matricaria chamomile) it is easily found spontaneously, especially on mountain paths and uncultivated fields, and is also considered a species indicating silty soils that tend to compact on the surface. Sometimes it can be confused with the "false chamomile” (Odorless Chamomilla) from which it is recognized, however, with careful observation, for its unmistakable perfume, and for the inside of the empty flower head. False chamomile does not smell as much and has no medicinal properties.

There Chamomile cultivation is simple and it can undoubtedly be carried out with an organic method, we discover below everything you need to be able to insert this relaxing flower among our crops.

The chamomile plant

The chamomile plant belongs to the Composite family, it is an annual herbaceous with erect stem, about 50 cm tall, and very branched.

The leaves are light green and the inflorescences are flower heads that appear over a period of time between May and September, they are numerous and fragrant.

We can also find this plant spontaneous, it also grows above 1500 meters above sea level, mountain chamomile it is considered particularly useful for medicinal purposes, because it grows in uncontaminated land and in pure air.

Suitable soil

To ensure that chamomile plants fully offer their odorous and medicinal potential, the best exposure is full sun. The plant prefers dry soils, even poor, and tolerates a certain level of limescale.

When working the soil it is good to incorporate 3 or 4 kg per square meter of well-ripened compost, because even if chamomile adapts to poor soils, maintaining a good level of organic matter in the soil is always important regardless of the crop that this hosts. But later no other particular fertilizations are needed for this species.

How to sow

The sowing of chamomile is very simple and it can be done in spring, directly in the open ground, broadcast. In this way, in fact, a beautiful mantle of chamomile is obtained that uniformly covers the entire surface dedicated to it.

So it's important finely prepare the seedbed with the consequent main work, to be done with the spade, or better still with the ground fork, in order not to overturn the slices of soil but simply move them deeply, and then continue breaking the clods with the hoe and leveling the surface with the rake. Once the soil is refined, it's possible wet it all with the watering can diffuser, evenly distribute the semi and cover with a veil of earth passed through a sieve.

Alternatively, especially if the surface is large, the classical technique to spread the seeds, cover them with the rake as best as possible and water afterwards.

How it is grown

If many seedlings are born, thanks to having used a fair amount of seeds as a precaution, it will be appropriate to thin them out a little, leaving about 15 cm between one plant and another, so that they are allowed to branch well.

As long as the seedlings are small we must provide for water them often, but later we can reduce the interventions until they stop altogether, since it is a species resistant to drought.

There reproduction of plants is practically spontaneous: even if we are interested in collecting the flowers, once they are ready, someone will inevitably disseminate and the species will continue to propagate itself. But obviously to make sure you always have chamomile plants in the desired quantities and spaces, it is better to continue multiplying it, keeping some plants in the field until the seeds mature, and then extract them and store them for the following year.

Chamomile it is not attacked by particular diseases and parasites, this is why it is very easy to grow it in a completely natural garden.

Collection and use

Even if the plant is all fragrant, they are mainly taken for use flower heads when they are in full bloom, because they are at their maximum concentration of active ingredients and their fragrance is intense. As we said, the flower heads bloom from May to September, so we can also collect multiple times.

You can choose whether to collect all the individual flowers or cut the entire plant at the base, then hang it in bunches and complete the drying in 2 or 3 days. The place suitable for this purpose is cool, shady and ventilated, in order to prevent mold or rot caused by humidity. Need avoid drying the plants in the sun because they would lose their aromas, and to protect the plants from dust we can wrap them in breathable cloths.

Once the plants have dried, the flowers are separated and placed in tightly closed glass jars, to be kept in dry cupboards.

Chamomile has several uses and is listed among the medicinal plants: the infusion, as is well known, relieves anxiety, but also headaches, stomach pain and menstrual pain. This can also be used for soak the seeds of other species to sow for the garden, because a bath in chamomile facilitates their germination. Also finds use in cosmetics for the preparation of shampoo with a lightening action on the hair, but for this purpose we can use the infusion directly for rinsing after normal shampooing.

Opportunity: growing chamomile for income

Mechanized cultivation of chamomile for professional purposes can be considered, given that on one hectare up to 400 kg of pure flower heads can be obtained, and by agreement with companies that collect all the crops to make herbal teas at a satisfactory price, you can make an income.

It could also be a valid idea for those who have a small organic farm and want to introduce different crops in their rotation plan, even if they will then have to pay close attention topest attitude of these beautiful flowers. It is a very interesting cultivation for mountain farms, since this medicinal plant grows well even at altitude.

Video: How to Grow Chamomile from Seed - Planting Chamomile Cut Flower Gardening for Beginners