Scientific Name: Chamaemelum nobile
Common Names: German Chamomile, English Chamomile, Ground Apple, Groundcover Chamomile, Low Chamomile, Garden Chamomile
Roman chamomile is native to parts of Western Europe.
Flowers can be collected, dried and used to make chamomile tea. Although Roman chamomile produces fewer flowers than German chamomile, it's a perennial that produces year after year without replanting. Roman chamomile plants are low growing, they can be planted as a creeping ground-cover between pavers, in rockeries or along the outer edges of border plantings. Roman chamomile makes a great alternative to lawn in small areas that receive little foot traffic, it can be mowed to keep its growth extra compact but can also be used to fill areas that are inaccessible to lawn mowers as well. The feathery foliage of Roman chamomile has a pleasant apple-like scent when crushed. Roman chamomile flowers help to attract beneficial insect species to your garden.
For best flowering choose a growing site for Roman chamomile that receives full sun or light shade. The soil should be free-draining, a sandy-loam is ideal. If your soil is heavy with clay you can improve it's structure by laying down organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure over the surface prior to planting. Worms, fungi and other soil micro-organisms will feed on and incorporate this organic matter over time improving the soil structure. Roman chamomile shouldn't require supplementary fertilising but you can apply a top dressing of a complete organic fertiliser around plants if growth is slow or at the first sign of any nutrient deficiencies. Roman chamomile is drought tolerant, but grows best when watered regularly especially when planted as a lawn replacement. If growing conditions are ideal Roman chamomile may spread aggressively and root along any section of stem in contact with the ground, if this becomes a problem prune back each stem with a single cut and pull out the entire length of each stem segment. Alternatively you may wish to grow Roman chamomile in a pot to keep it contained, be sure to use a free-draining premium potting mix for optimum growth.
When to Sow:
In temperate and subtropical regions of Australia sow Roman chamomile seeds any time during Spring or from early to mid Autumn. In tropical regions of Australia sow Roman chamomile seeds during the dry season, from early Autumn to mid Winter is best.
How to Sow:
Surface sow Roman chamomile seeds and cover only very lightly with a sprinkling of growing media. Roman chamomile seeds require light to reach them in order to germinate so don't cover them too deeply. Press down gently to ensure good contact between the moist growing media and the seeds, this will help prevent them from drying out between waterings. Thinning seedlings to about 20cm apart will give their root systems room to expand while still allowing a solid carpet of flowers to form once established.
Roman chamomile seeds are generally quick to germinate, taking between 8 and 15 days for most seedlings to emerge.
Time to Flowering:
Roman chamomile takes from 4 to 8 months after sowing to start producing flowers.