German Chamomile vs Roman Chamomile: What’s the Difference?

german chamomile vs roman chamomile

German chamomile is a branching stem flowering plant while Roman chamomile is a single stem flowering plant. When found as an ingredient in beauty products or supplements there is no significant difference between the two types of chamomile.

What are the health benefits of chamomile and are the two types of chamomile really that different from each other? Read on to learn more about both German and Roman chamomile and which one you should plant at home.

What Is the Difference Between Roman Chamomile and German Chamomile?

When you compare Roman and German chamomile, you have to consider two aspects: their physical differences and the difference in their properties as an ingredient.

How do you recognize the different kinds of chamomile? It is actually quite simple. The easiest way to recognize the two varieties is by remembering that roman chamomile has a single stem with a single flower while German chamomile has several flowering branches growing from its stem.

These are the main characteristics of Roman and German chamomile.

Roman Chamomile:

  • Perennial plant
  • Low growing plant (max. 12 inches)
  • 1 flower per stem
  • Hairy stems
  • Alternative for lawn grass

German Chamomile:

  • Annual plant
  • Taller growh (approx. 24 inches)
  • Branching stems with several flowers
  • Fern-like foliage
  • Great for flower beds

What Is Chamomile Good For?

Roman and German chamomile are a very popular essential oil and is said to have many health benefits. You might find it in topical creams, serums or beauty products.

As a tea or as an ingredient in medication, chamomile acts as:

  • An anti-inflammatory ingredient
  • Soothing an upset stomach
  • Relieving indigestion and flatulence
  • Improving appetite
  • Reducing nausea and vomiting

It is also a relatively common ingredients in beauty products for its sweet smell and skin soothing properties. Roman chamomile also kills germs so it helps to keep creams, gels and ointments free of germs.

As an essential oil, Roman and German chamomile is used in aromatherapy for its calming properties. Some research suggests that it may be helpful for those experiencing anxiety or depression and can help people sleep better.

Can You Substitute German Chamomile for Roman Chamomile?

German chamomile and Roman chamomile have very similar properties so they are perfect substitutes for each other. In fact, many products containing chamomile may use a combination of both.

The only thing to consider is their intensity. Some say that Roman chamomile is the milder version and so is more suitable for those that have more sensitive skin or easily upset digestive systems.

However, when chamomile has already been worked into a certain products, the specific type should not change its effectiveness. In other words, it doesn’t make much difference whether a product contains German or Roman chamomile.

How to Grow Chamomile at Home

Both Roman and German chamomile are relatively sturdy flowers and make for a wonderful addition to your backyard or as a potted plant. Here are some tips on how to grow chamomile at home.

Although they are tough plants once they have matured, they are still sensitive as seedlings. They also have a slow germination period so they are best started as seeds indoors before transplanting them outside.

Plant chamomile in the late spring or early summer, well before the weather starts to cool. This gives them the time to toughen up before the temperatures drop.

Roman Chamomile Care Tips

Roman chamomile is a great addition to your lawn. Not only does it grow rapidly but it also leaves a lovely sweet scent in the air.

On the other hand, it does have the tendency to take over your lawn if you let it. To avoid this, you can also grow it as a companion plant in pots or in your vegetable garden.

Sunlight: full sun in temperate climates, partial sun in hot climates

Water: can go for long periods without watering but keep soil moist in hot climates

Temperature: tolerant up to 90°F

Humidity: prefers drier conditions

pH: ideally between 5.6 – 7.5

Soil: regular potting soil

Nutrients: limited need of nutrients, no fertilizer necessary

German Chamomile Care Tips

German chamomile is the variety used in most teas. So, if you want to grow your own herb garden or have a balcony full of herbs, this is the type of chamomile you should choose.

Both the flowers and the leaves can be added to tea as fresh ingredients or as dried ingredients. However, the leaves tend to be more bitter so be careful how much you use.

Sunlight: full sun in temperate climates, partial shade in hot climates

Water: no need to water if grown outdoors, let soil dry completely between watering if grown indoors

Temperature: tolerant up to 90°F

Humidity: prefers drier conditions

pH: ideally between 5.6 – 7.5

Soil: potting soil for succulents

Nutrients: limited need of nutrients, no fertilizer necessary

Frequently Asked Questions:

Which Chamomile Is Best for Sleep?

Both German and Roman (also known as English) chamomile have calming properties that may help promote better sleep. Generally, German chamomile is used in sleep-promoting teas and it is also the recommended type for making your own bedtime herbal tea.

Which Chamomile Is Best for Skin?

For direct use on the skin, Roman (or English) chamomile is better than German chamomile. This is because it is considered the milder option and so has a lesser chance of causing skin reactions.

Is Chamomile Safe for Dogs?

Be careful of giving your dog any kind of herb because their bodies react differently to ours. Although chamomile is not toxic for dogs, some dogs can develop an allergic reaction. Always consult your vet before using any pet supplements.


German and Roman chamomile have very similar flowers and nearly identical properties when used in teas, creams, gels or aromatherapy. You will only notice their difference when you see how their stems are different.

Despite German chamomile being an annual plant and Roman chamomile a perennial, these two flowering plants grow best in very similar conditions. They both love lots of suns and are extremely low maintenance since they do well in dry and nutrient-poor soil.

Being so similar, both Roman and German chamomile are ideal substitutes for each other when it comes to adding them as ingredients to products. However, when growing them yourself there are slightly different needs.

When planting chamomile yourself, it is best to grow Roman chamomile as a lawn alternative or as a companion plant while German chamomile makes a great addition to your herb garden. Chamomile is very easy to grow and have many potential benefits so why not give it a try?

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