About Roman Chamomile: The word “chamomile” comes from the Greek words for “earth apple,” referring to its pleasant scent reminiscent of apples. Though an ancient plant, Roman Chamomile received its name from a 19th century English botanist who discovered it growing wild in the Colosseum. Of the two most common types of chamomile, the Roman variety has a stronger and slightly more bitter flavor; most chamomile tea and herbal medicine contain the German type, while chamomile essential oil usually contains the Roman type. When distilled, the oil of Roman chamomile can be used topically to reduce swelling, infection, or inflammation. Because of its apple-like scent when trodden underfoot, this plant often acts as a ground cover or lawn substitute; traditional chamomile lawns can still be found in England, most notably at Buckingham Palace.
Roman Chamomile Germination: Loosen the soil to a depth of 3”, then direct sow in the spring or fall. Since the seeds need light to germinate, plant them just below the surface. Roman Chamomile prefers rich, well drained soil and full sun or light shade. Keep the soil lightly moist and weed free until germination, which should take place within 7-10 days at 60-65 degrees F. Thin the seedlings to 4” for ground cover or lawn, and 8-12” for the garden.
Growing Roman Chamomile Seeds: This plant does not do well in the heat of summer, and prefers the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. It tolerates drought well, and too much watering will cause disease. If left to drop its seed, this plant will produce volunteer seedlings. Once established, this hardy plant will come back for years to come. Mature plants of several years growth may need to be divided. In fall, the foliage should be cut down and the plant covered with mulch for protection from the cold. Roman Chamomile attracts beneficial insects and repels pests. This variety also grows well in containers, but is most popularly used as a fragrant ground cover; it also helps prevent erosion.
Harvesting Roman Chamomile: As soon as the flowers open, they can be harvested for fresh use or for drying. The flavor reaches its peak immediately after the flowers open, and lessens as they age. For drying, snip off the flowers underneath the head; rinse and pat them dry, then spread them on a screen and to dry in an airy, sunny place. When completely dry, store the flowers in an airtight container in a dark place. The leaves can be harvested fresh when needed, but have a very bitter taste and are best used for their scent. Dry them in the same manner as the flowers, but without rinsing them.
Saving Roman Chamomile Seeds: When the flowers drop their petals and begin to dry and turn brown, remove the heads and spread them out to dry away from direct sunlight. Thresh or shake them lightly to remove the seed. Store the seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Roman Chamomile Info: Origin: Northwestern Europe Other Common Names: Garden Chamomile, Ground Apple, Low Chamomile, English Chamomile, Whig Plant Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 6-12 inches Spacing: 8-12 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Dry USDA Zone: 4a-9b Seeds Per Oz: 17,000 Produces finely cut, feathery green leaves and small, apple scented daisy-like flowers.