Today, chamomile is most commonly known as a caffeine-free herbal tea. It comes from the Asteraceae family of plants, and is heralded for its soothing and digestive properties, and many people nowadays do find the herb an effective sleep aid.
In the past, the herbal flower was used to treat rheumatic pain, menstrual discomfort, and ulcers, and as a topical application for wounds. While it’s up for debate whether it’s actually effective when used for these purposes, there are a few clever ways to put the herb to good use in your garden — both to get seeds growing and to keep your plants healthy.
Give your seeds a head start
The mild fungicidal properties of chamomile tea can keep your plants from damping off — which, as explained by Gardener’s Path, is “a soil-borne fungal disease that affects seedlings, causing the rotting of stem and root tissues at and below the soil surface of the young plants.” To prevent your seedlings from dying before they get a chance to grow, spritz your soil with chamomile during your regular watering routine.
According to Gardening Know-How, chamomile also contains tannins, which “can promote seed germination by softening seed casings” if you soak your seeds in a cup of weakly brewed tea for 8-12 hours — but no longer, lest they begin to rot.
Remove white, fuzzy mould from plants
We’ve reported on how you can use vinegar to remove black mould and fungi from your plants. The same process can treat them if they are afflicted with white fuzzy mould, and help them stay healthy longer. Brew a large pot of chamomile tea, let it cool, and pour it into a spray bottle. Spritz the affected areas whenever you spot mould to stop the spread.
Make a gentle, natural insecticide
Gardening Know-How also touts the benefits of using chamomile to make a gentle, natural insecticide that can keep pests like aphids away without harming beneficial insects like bees. Simply brew a strong pot of tea (letting it steep as long as 24 hours), the site advises, they pour it into a spray bottle and spritz the affected plants (provided there are no bees buzzing around at the moment).