Chamomile

(Matricaria recutita) The cheery and aromatic flowers of chamomile are a delight for gardeners and pollinators alike. A favorite tea plant with potent calming properties, its sweet apple scent, soft feathery foliage and pretty blossoms make it an ornamental medicinal. This easy-to-grow annual herb performs best in cool conditions and should be planted in partial shade, but will also tolerate full sun. Start indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Surface sow seeds, gently pressing into soil; cover lightly with a fine sprinkle of soil. Keep moist until sprouts appear. Set out the transplants after last frost of spring. Plants should be spaced 8-10 inches apart. You may also direct seed after frost; just keep those little seeds gently watered until they germinate. This useful herb self sows readily. Drought-tolerant chamomile is often recommended as a companion plant in vegetable gardens, as its strong scent helps to repel insects! Harvest when blooms are fully open; the petals should be flat or blown back like a shuttlecock, for peak potency.

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