Roman chamomile is a romantic and easy-care ground cover with marguerite-like flowers and feathery foliage.
Profile of Roman chamomile:
Scientific name: Chamaemelum nobile
Plant family: daisy family (Asteraceae)
Other names: English chamomile, garden chamomile, ground apple, low chamomile, mother’s daisy, whig plant
Sowing time: spring
Planting time: spring
Flowering period: June to August
Location: sunny to partially shady
Soil quality: sandy, moderately nutritious, humus rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: ground cover, borders, grave planting, apothecary garden, cottage garden, natural garden, prairie garden, rock garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6 (-20 °C / -5 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of Roman chamomile
Plant order, origin and occurrence of Roman chamomile
The Roman chamomile or garden chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) originates from the Mediterranean region, but has been known as a garden plant in Central Europe for centuries. The perennial grows to a height of about 20 centimeters and shows its white flowers from June to September. Already Shakespeare let his obese anti-hero Falstaff say about the Roman chamomile: “The more it is trodden on, the faster it grows”. But that’s not quite true: the fragrant carpet can be planted as a walk-on ground cover and can be used as a substitute for lawn, allowing occasional treading and even a garden party, but not regular soccer matches. It belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae).
Characteristics of Roman chamomile
The Roman chamomile grows as herbaceous plants or perennials and to a height of about six to 40 centimeters (16 in). They appear as annual and perennial plants. The English chamomiles form dense carpets, which usually reach a height of 20 to 30 centimeters (8 to 12 in).
The alternate leaves smell aromatic and are usually pinnate, needle-like to spatulate and grow up to 5 centimeters (2 in) long. The leaves are mostly light green and have linear leaf sections.
The marguerite-like, white flower heads bloom from June to August and exude an apple-like fragrance. The flower head contains tubular flowers and partly female or sterile ligulate flowers. The crown tube consists of two wings and a white tongue with two or three teeth. The bracts are arranged in several rows and enlarge outwards. Two fused carpels form the underdeveloped fruiting body.
The fruits of the garden chamomile are brown and roundish. They are about one millimeter in size and appear as closed fruits that do not open when ripe (achenes). They contain a seed, which is enclosed by a thin fruit wall. Unlike many species of composites, the fruits of the Chamaemelum do not have a pappus. This is the name of the typical hair crown on the fruits, as shown for example by the dandelion.
Roman chamomile – cultivation and care
Location and soil
Roman chamomile comes from southern countries and prefers full sun to partially shady locations on fresh soils. They tolerate dry substrates well, waterlogging should be avoided. They prefer to grow on sandy soils.
Roman chamomile is best planted in spring. 7 to 9 plants per square meter (10 sq ft) are sufficient.
The pleasantly fragrant Roman chamomile prefers an absolutely sunny location as well as a nutrient-rich soil, which may well have plenty of moisture. Sowing should then be done directly on site and preferably in spring. However, the garden chamomile also grows without problems in late summer, whereupon it develops well the following year. The plant will then spread independently over several years.
Although the Roman chamomile usually tolerates dryness well, the plant should be watered in the morning or evening, especially on hot summer days.
Fertilization of the plant is usually hardly ever necessary. If necessary, however, you can apply a complete fertilizer once a year in spring.
Already in the first late summer after planting, trim the plants with sharp hedge trimmers to promote branching. Only the upright growing branches are pruned, the rooted ground shoots remain uncut. As soon as the perennials have grown in well, more frequent pruning with a lawnmower set high is also possible – but if you prune the flowering varieties before June, you will have to do without the white flowers.
The best propagation is by division in spring, but is also possible by seed.
Diseases and pests
Pests and diseases occur only rarely.
Use in the garden
Roman chamomile is suitable for use as a fragrant lawn. Instead of being planted in the soil, they spread independently and form beautiful dense cushions over time, which smell wonderful.
Use as a medicinal plant
Roman chamomile is an important medicinal herb and replaces the true chamomile in many European countries. The effect of these two medicinal plants is almost identical. The flower heads of Roman chamomile are suitable for making tea or for the production of oils and drops. Roman chamomile traditionally helps with stomach aches, digestive problems, nervousness and inflammation. It is also wound healing and relieves sore throats and headaches. Roman chamomile is also used in cosmetics. When brewed, it lightens blond hair and gives it a great shine.