German chamomile is a daily-like flower in the sunflower family, and it has medicinal uses that were employed by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. This short, easy-to-grow annual has sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and possible antiviral/ antimicrobial properties. A tea of the flowers is said to be useful to reduce fungal growths in gardening and to prevent damping off. Growers also regard it as a good companion plant for essential-oil producing plants because it is said that chamomile will help these plants produce more of these oils. It enhances the well-being of other plants as well. Chamomile is an ingredient in herbal shampoos and cosmetics. Its anti-inflammatory properties have led to its utilization in topical ointments that sooth the skin. It is even said to speed healing. The flavorful tea, also made with the flower heads, is extremely popular for calming nerves and promoting sleep (particularly in higher doses). The tea may also be used to sooth sore throats. Additionally, its antispasmodic activity works to sooth stomach and appease Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Growing Information: Chamomile grows best in temperate climates. It enjoys full sun to partial shade and a light, well-draining soil. The seeds are most easily sown by sowing directly outdoors after the last frost. They can be spread directly on top of the soil or mixed with sand before broadcasting in the same manner. Keep the soil evenly moist until germination occurs. Seedlings can also be started indoors and transplanted if care is taken not to damage the roots. This species is considered an annual, but it tends to reseed itself rather easily if some flower heads are left on the plants. The flower tops should be harvested when they are in full bloom, making sure to cut them off as close to the flower as possible. The less foliage you have attached, the better quality the flowers will be for tea. For large harvests, they can be raked from the plants. Be sure to dry the flower tops quickly and without adding heat.
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