Chamomile is a fun and easy herb to grow for gardeners of all skill levels. While you can enjoy it in the garden all summer long, learning how to harvest and dry chamomile flowers for tea and herbal remedies is even more rewarding.

A bucket full of freshly picked chamomile.

I have always adored the look and smell of chamomile. I have a soft spot for tiny white flower and with their small daisy-like flowers, chamomile fits right into that. I have tried growing chamomile in our raised vegetable garden beds and in pots. Ihave had wonderful success with both methods resulting in summer-long harvests!

6 Ways To Use Chamomile

  1. Herbal Tea: Chamomile tea is the most popular use of this plant. It can help you relax and sleep. Chamomile is also used to soothe stomach aches and support digestive health.
  2. Skin Care: It can help in soothing skin irritations like eczema, acne, and allergies.
  3. Healing Properties: Chamomile creams and ointments are used to treat cuts, wounds, and skin conditions due to the plant’s healing properties.
  4. Aromatherapy: Chamomile oil is used in aromatherapy for stress relief, relaxation, and to aid sleep.
  5. Medicinal Uses: Beyond tea, chamomile is available in forms such as capsules, liquid extracts, tinctures, and topical creams.
  6. Cooking: Although less common, chamomile flowers can be used as a garnish or in salads for a light, apple-like flavor.
a mason jar full of dried chamomile

Identifying Chamomile

Chamomile flowers are its most identifying feature. They resemble small daisies, with a central, dome-shaped, yellow receptacle surrounded by white petals that lay flat or slightly droop downwards. The flowers usually measure about an inch or so across.

The leaves of chamomile plants are thin and feathery. They are usually bright green in color and are arranged alternately along the stem. The leaves of German chamomile are more finely dissected than Roman chamomile.

a close up of fresh chamomile with white petals and a yellow center.

German chamomile is typically taller than Roman and can grow up to about 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 centimeters) tall. Roman chamomile is shorter, often spreading across the ground.

The stems are slender and branch out, giving the plant a bushy appearance. German chamomile has a more upright growth habit, whereas Roman chamomile tends to grow closer to the ground.

When crushed or rubbed, the foliage of chamomile releases a sweet, apple-like fragrance, which is quite pleasant and a good indicator that you’ve identified chamomile.

fresh blooms of chamomile

Best Flower Stage For Harvesting

The best stage for harvesting your homegrown chamomile flowers, particularly for use in teas and medicinal purposes, is when the flowers are fully open but before they begin to wilt or fade. Here are a few pointers to identify the optimal harvest time:

Full Bloom: Harvest the chamomile flowers when the petals are flat or slightly reflexed back from the center. This indicates that the flowers are at peak bloom.

Center Color: The center of the flower heads should be yellow and plump.

Aroma: The flowers should have a strong, sweet apple-like fragrance.

Time of Day: The best time of day to harvest chamomile flowers is in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the sun is high. This helps to ensure that the oils within the flowers, which are responsible for flavor and aroma, are at their most concentrated.

Frequency: Chamomile can bloom all summer long, especially if the flowers are regularly picked. Harvesting every few days can help encourage more blooms.

a hand holding freshly harvested fresh chamomile blooms

​Harvesting Equipment

  • Gardening Scissors or Snips
  • Gloves
  • Drying Racks or Screens
  • Paper Bags or Cloth Sacks

Harvesting Tips

  • Chamomile flowers are delicate, so handle them gently to avoid bruising and to maintain their quality.
  • Frequent harvesting encourages the plant to produce more flowers.
  • Snip the flower stems just below the flower heads, leaving enough stem for handling without taking too much plant material that won’t be used.
  • Do not wash them with water as this can remove some of the natural oils.
fresh chamomile blooms in a woman's hand

How to Harvest Chamomile

Cut the Flowers: Use your fingers to pinch off the flower heads, or use a pair of scissors or garden snips to cut the stem just below the flower head. Be sure to leave the stems on the plant as short as possible to encourage new growth.

Gather Gently: Place the flower heads gently into your basket or tray. Avoid compressing or overloading the flowers to prevent bruising and damage.

Shade Dry the Flowers: If you’re not going to dry the flowers immediately, keep them in a cool, shaded place until you can start the drying process to preserve their quality.

Repeat Harvesting: Chamomile flowers will continue to bloom over the season, so revisit your plants every few days to harvest newly bloomed flowers.

Check for Insects: Before drying, lightly shake the flowers or check them to ensure there are no insects hidden in the petals.

chamomile flowers air drying on a marble surface

Drying Chamomile

Air Drying Method

Air drying is the most common method of drying chamomile. 

  1. Prepare for Drying: Remove any excess stem and separate the flowers to allow for better airflow around each one.
  2. Choose a Drying Area: Find a warm, dry area with good air flow and out of direct sunlight.
  3. Spread Out the Flowers: Lay out the chamomile flowers in a single layer on a clean, dry surface, such as a screen or drying rack. Ensure the flowers are not touching to prevent mold and to allow for even drying.
  4. Cover to Protect: You can cover the chamomile with a thin cloth or paper to protect it from dust and insects.
  5. Check Regularly: Chamomile typically takes 1-2 weeks to dry completely, depending on the humidity and temperature. Check them every couple of days to see if they are dry. They should feel crispy to the touch and the petals should be brittle.
  6. Store Properly: Once dry, transfer the chamomile flowers to airtight containers, and store them in a cool, dark place to preserve their aroma and medicinal properties.
  7. Label the Containers: It’s helpful to label the containers with the date of drying to keep track of freshness.

Dehydrator Drying Method

  1. Prepare the Flowers: Gently shake or check the flowers to remove any insects. Avoid washing them to preserve the natural oils unless they’re particularly dirty.
  2. Preheat the Dehydrator: Set your dehydrator to the lowest setting, typically between 95°F to 115°F (35°C to 46°C). Chamomile is delicate and can lose its aromatic oils if dried at too high of a temperature.
  3. Arrange the Flowers: Place the chamomile flowers in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Ensure they are not overlapping to allow for even drying.
  4. Start Dehydrating: Put the trays in the dehydrator and let them dry for 1-4 hours. The exact time can vary based on the dehydrator model and the moisture content of the flowers.
  5. Check Periodically: Check the flowers every hour to see if they are dry. They should be crispy to the touch, and the petals should be easily crumbled when they are fully dried.
  6. Cool Down: After drying, allow the chamomile flowers to cool to room temperature before storing to prevent condensation.
  7. Store Properly: Transfer the dried chamomile flowers to airtight containers, and keep them in a cool, dark place. Properly dried chamomile can last for up to a year if stored correctly.
  8. Label Your Containers: Mark the storage containers with the date of drying to track how long they have been stored.
chamomile flowers stored in an airtight glass container

Storing Dried Chamomile

Once completely dried, chamomile flowers should be stored in airtight containers, such as glass jars with tight-fitting lids, to protect them from moisture and air. Keep the containers in a cool, dark place, like a pantry or cupboard, away from direct sunlight, heat, and humidity, which can all degrade the quality of the chamomile.

When stored correctly, dried chamomile can last for up to a year, sometimes longer, without significant loss of aroma or medicinal properties. 

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How to Dry Chamomile

Learn how to dry fresh chamomile flowers for tea or herbal uses.
Dry Time 4 hours

Equipment

  • 1 Gardening Scissors or Snips
  • 1 Gloves
  • 1 Drying Racks or Screens
  • 1 Paper Bags or Cloth Sacks
  • 1 Dehydrator, optional

Ingredients  

  • chamomile

Instructions 

Air Drying Method

  1. Prepare for Drying: Remove any excess stem and separate the flowers to allow for better airflow around each one.
  2. Choose a Drying Area: Find a warm, dry area with good air flow and out of direct sunlight.
  3. Spread Out the Flowers: Lay out the chamomile flowers in a single layer on a clean, dry surface, such as a screen or drying rack. Ensure the flowers are not touching to prevent mold and to allow for even drying.
  4. Cover to Protect: You can cover the chamomile with a thin cloth or paper to protect it from dust and insects.
  5. Check Regularly: Chamomile typically takes 1-2 weeks to dry completely, depending on the humidity and temperature. Check them every couple of days to see if they are dry. They should feel crispy to the touch and the petals should be brittle.
  6. Store Properly: Once dry, transfer the chamomile flowers to airtight containers, and store them in a cool, dark place to preserve their aroma and medicinal properties.
  7. Label the Containers: It's helpful to label the containers with the date of drying to keep track of freshness.

Dehydrator Method

  1. Prepare the Flowers: Gently shake or check the flowers to remove any insects. Avoid washing them to preserve the natural oils unless they're particularly dirty.
  2. Preheat the Dehydrator: Set your dehydrator to the lowest setting, typically between 95°F to 115°F (35°C to 46°C). Chamomile is delicate and can lose its aromatic oils if dried at too high of a temperature.
  3. Arrange the Flowers: Place the chamomile flowers in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Ensure they are not overlapping to allow for even drying.
  4. Start Dehydrating: Put the trays in the dehydrator and let them dry for 1-4 hours. The exact time can vary based on the dehydrator model and the moisture content of the flowers.
  5. Check Periodically: Check the flowers every hour to see if they are dry. They should be crispy to the touch, and the petals should be easily crumbled when they are fully dried.
  6. Cool Down: After drying, allow the chamomile flowers to cool to room temperature before storing to prevent condensation.
  7. Store Properly: Transfer the dried chamomile flowers to airtight containers, and keep them in a cool, dark place. Properly dried chamomile can last for up to a year if stored correctly.
  8. Label Your Containers: Mark the storage containers with the date of drying to track how long they have been stored.

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