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How to Grow Chamomile — Chamaemelum

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Chamaemelum — commonly called Chamomile — is commonly grown for its medicinal flowers and for its foliage which releases an apple-like fragrance when crushed. The leaves and flower heads can be dried; the leaves are used in potpourri, the flowerheads for herbal tea. 

Chamaemelum can be grown as an ornamental lawn for a courtyard or patio where foot traffic is not heavy. It can be used as edging at the front of a border or along a walkway or along the margins of a pond or water garden.

Chamaemelum flowers are daisy-like with yellow disk florets and white fray florets. Flowerheads should be harvested when fully open and dried as entire heads. The leave can harvested at any time.

Chamaemelum is a genus of one species. It is native to moist woodland in eastern North America.

Chamomile flowers

Get to know Chamaemelum 

  • Plant type: Evergreen perennial 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 4 to 10 
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 4
  • Height and width: 4-12 inches x 15 inches (10.1-30.5cm x 38.1cm) 
  • Growth rate: Fast to moderate
  • Form and habit: Spreading 
  • Foliage: Soft-textured, spreading 3-12 inch (7.6-30.5cm) mat of bright light green, Lacy, finely divided leaves; releases a lovely aroma when crushed underfoot 
  • Flowers: Daisylike flower heads with yellow centers and white ray florets, or “petals” 
  • Bloom time: Midsummer 
  • Uses: Great lawn alternative when mowed, between stepping stones and pavers or in bulb beds, edging, front of border, along walk-way, or at the margin of a pond or water garden. 
  • Garden companions: Lacy foliage is a good foil for coarser-textured perennials 
  • Common name: Chamomile 
  • Botanical name: Chamaemelum 
  • Family name: Asteraceae 
  • Origin: Grassy pastures and wasteland in Europe

Where to plant Chamaemelum

  • Plant Chamaemelum in full sun.  
  • Plant Chamaemelum in light, well-drained, slightly acid, sandy soil; plants tolerate heavy soil. 
  • Chamaemelum are unsuitable where the summers are hot and muggy. 

When to plant Chamaemelum 

  • Plant Chamaemelum seeds in early spring.  
chamomile tea
Cup of chamomile tea, made from Chalmaemelum leaves and flowers

Planting and spacing Chamaemelum 

  • Space Chamaemelum 12 inches (30.5cm) apart.  
  • Where heavy foot traffic and wear will not be a problem, plant closely together to produce an ornamental lawn for a courtyard or patio.
  • To produce a lawn or seat, plant 5-6 inches (12-15cm) apart, and water freely until established.

How to water and feed Chamaemelum 

  • Give Chamaemelum moderate water; allow plants to dry down; tolerates drought. 
  • Feed Chamaemelum with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring. 

How to care for Chamaemelum 

  • Trim or mow Chamaemelum in spring after they flower to a height of 3-4 inches (7.6-10.1cm), particularly if you use Chamaemelum as a lawn alternative. 
  • Cut Chamaemelum back regularly to encourage dense, compact growth; occasional rolling of lawns will help to maintain an even surface.

Chamaemelum pests and diseases 

  • Pests and diseases are infrequent.

Chamaemelum propagation 

  • Propagate Chamaemelum from cuttings, or division in early spring. 
  • Use division for cultivars, which do not come true from seed.  

Chamaemelum varieties to grow 

  •  Chamaemelum nobile, Roman chamomile, Roman chamomile, formerly Anthemis nobilis, mat-forming 6-12 inch (15.2-30.5cm) tall plant that spreads to 1.5 feet (.5m). Bears threadlike, apple-scented leaves and .3-.5 inch (.8-1.3cm) wide daisies in summer on long stalks above the foliage.  
  • ‘Flore Pleno’ bears double white buttonlike blooms on 6 inch (15.2cm) plants.  
  • ‘Treneague’ is a nonflowering variety that needs no mowing. It’s a compact 4 inch (10.2cm) tall cultivar with especially aromatic leaves. It does not withstand more than rare foot traffic when planted as a lawn substitute, but it makes an aromatic carpet between steppingstones. Zones 6 to 9.  

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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