How and When to Harvest Chamomile

Chamomile is one of my must have herbs in the tea garden.  Not only does it add beautiful, cheery little blossoms to the garden, but it also makes a delicious comforting tea. In this post, I share how and when to harvest chamomile as well as how to dry it and brew it into a cup of tea.

before harvest
German chamomile ready for harvest.

 

Chamomile makes a soothing, comforting tea perfect for upset tummies, anxiety or sleepy time. I remember my mom making us chamomile tea if we had a mild fever, upset stomach or couldn’t get to sleep. It’s a tradition I’ve carried on with my kids who ask for a cup of chamomile if they’re feeling a little under the weather.

What Part of Chamomile to Harvest

Unlike many other herbs, when harvesting chamomile, it is the blossoms you want to collect, not the stems, leaves or roots.  Those gorgeous white daisy like flowers are all you want to harvest for chamomile tea.

chamomile blossoms

When to Harvest Chamomile

Harvesting chamomile is a continuous activity, since chamomile flowers will bloom all summer long, especially if picked regularly. So, get ready to harvest chamomile blossoms all summer! Good thing, it’s easy to do.

Chamomile flowers are ready to harvest when they are at full bloom. Ideally, the blossoms are open to their fullest, just before the tiny white petals begin to droop down. It’s not unsafe to harvest the blossoms if they’re a little premature or a little droopy, it’s just that they’re beneficial properties may not be at their fullest and most potent state.  chamomile in garden

The best time of day to harvest chamomile, or any other herb, is in the morning after any dew has dried and before the midday sun has started to beat down on the blossoms.

How to Harvest Chamomile

Here’s a video giving a quick demo.


When picking the flowers, use your fingers as a comb to get just the flower head.  Then simply pluck the flower head off the stem while using your other hand to hold the stem of the plant.how to pick chamomile

Or, pinch off each flower head using your forefinger and thumb just underneath the flower head.

Gather all the blossoms you can. You’ll have to come back several times over the summer to collect blossoms when they’re at full bloom.

By the way, if you don’t harvest your chamomile blossoms, expect a little self-seeding to occur. Chamomile is an annual that self-seeds quite well. In fact, I often leave a few blossoms to go to seed on purpose so I get volunteer chamomile plants the following year. And I leave a few blossoms to dry out and then harvest them for the seed. I’ve had pretty good success growing chamomile from saved seeds.

after harvest
After the harvest. The more you pick, the more blossoms grow. I was able to pick another bowl full the next day!

How to Dry Chamomile

Gently shake the flowers and look them over to remove any insects or dirt that may be on the flower heads.

If you wish, you can wash the flowers in a basin of water. Drain well and gently pat dry. (I don’t always wash the blossoms.)

washing chamomile

Air Dry – Spread out the flowers in a single layer and allow them to dry for 1 to 2 weeks in a dark, warm, dry space.

Dehydrate – Dry flowers on a lined dehydrator tray to prevent tiny dried blossoms from falling through the mesh. To avoid blossoms from blowing off the tray, place a mesh liner on top of the chamomile flowers.  Set the dehydrator on it’s lowest setting (95°F or 35°C) and dry for 12 to 18 hours. Delicate herbs and flowers should always be dehydrated at the lowest settings for optimum results.

Once the flowers are thoroughly dried and cooled, store in a well sealed glass jar until next year’s chamomile harvest. Always store dried herbs out of direct heat or sunlight to best preserve the color, flavor and medicinal properties.  dried chamomile

How to Make Tea with Fresh or Dried Chamomile

Dried Chamomile: use 2-3 teaspoons of dried chamomile per 1 cup of boiling water. Steep for 2-5 minutes.

chamomile tea

Fresh Chamomile: use 6-8 teaspoons of fresh chamomile per 1 cup of boiling water. Steep for 2-5 minutes.

Do you ever drink chamomile tea? Do you use it for a specific purpose or do you just enjoy it? If so, have you ever tried growing and harvesting your own chamomile?

I’d love to see your chamomile blossoms. Take a photo, post it on Instagram and tag #getgettys so I can see it and like it!

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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10 Comments

  1. I add that chamomile is generally considered a safe herb for anyone, including during pregnancy, but in very rare cases it can cause an allergic reaction

  2. After you harvest the flowers is there any benefit or drawback for the whole plant to trimming the specific now-naked stem?

    1. When you remove the flowers, chamomile will produce new flowers. It is very determined to create seed and will re-flower several times. I have harvested flowers four or five times this season. It’s worth keeping the frilly stems around.

  3. Can you make chamomile tea with fresh flowers or do they have to be completely dried first?

    1. Hi Sasha,
      It is possible to make tea from fresh herbs, you’ll just need to use 3 to 4 times more fresh flowers than dried. So you’re looking at about 3-4 Tbsp of fresh flowers/herbs per cup of tea steeped for about 5-8 minutes. Enjoy!

  4. if we get to the flowers after the petals have fallen off – can we still use the yellow heads for tea? I missed the boat and now have tons of yellow heads with no petals….!

    1. Hi Heidione,
      Shucks! Sometimes that happens. You could try making tea with just the heads or you could dry them and mix them in with your next flower harvest. Or, you could just let those heads dry to the point where you can harvest the seeds so you can sow more chamomile next year! You may even get another crop this year as they germinate and mature very quickly – about 5 days to germinate and 30 days to mature. Hope it works out for you.

  5. Thank you! I’m growing chamomile and a few other plants for teas this year for the first time. This helped a bunch <3

    1. Hi Bunny, thanks for stopping by, glad you found this post useful. Good luck with your herbal tea gardening, I’m sure you’ll love it.

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