Learn how & why you should grow Calendula in your garden. We offer FREE Calendula Seeds, so you can grow your own and reap the benefits!
Why Grow Calendula
Bright yellow and orange flowers, historically used for medicinal and culinary purposes, come from easy calendula care when growing this simple flower. Commonly called the pot marigold (Calendula officinalis), the calendula flower has long been a staple in British cottage gardens.
Petals are used in cooking, and were used as yellow coloring in cheeses and butters in centuries past. When used in stews, broths and salads, these petals add a spicy taste similar to saffron to many dishes. All parts of calendula plants are useful in many ways. The plant is said to stimulate the immune system and is currently used as an ingredient in many cosmetics.
Flowers and leaves of the calendula may be dried and stored for later use. In the vegetable garden, calendula draws aphids away from valuable plants. While uses of calendula plants are diverse, growing calendula in the flower or herb garden is an optimum use of this attractive plant.
Calendula plants are frost tolerant and somewhat cold hardy and add long-lasting color and beauty in a flower bed or container.
Calendula is easy to grow from seeds directly sown in the garden or containers. Plant seeds in early spring and repot or transplant sturdy seedlings after the threat of frost. Calendula will tolerate poor conditions but grows best when it has rich soil. Once established, it doesn’t need much water or fertilizer to grow. Calendula is a full sun plant, however, it’s not a fan of sweltering hot temperatures and might start wilting in intense heat.
Calendula has no serious insect or disease problems. They can sometimes be susceptible to powdery mildew (remedied by good air circulation), and slugs and snails may feed on them, especially young plants. Keep ground areas clear of debris to minimize slug and snail damage. Aphids and whiteflies can sometimes be a problem; spraying with water or treating with insecticidal soaps can control these pests.
Calendula generally prefers full sun, but it sometimes languishes during the hottest months unless it receives some afternoon shade in hotter areas.
Like most members of the daisy family, calendula needs a well-drained soil high in organic material. Dense, wet soils can cause the roots to rot. This plant tolerates a wide range of soil pH but prefers a slightly acidic to neutral soil.
Water frequently until the plants are established. Mature plants thrive on only occasional watering. Avoid too much water with these plants.
Temperature and Humidity
Calendula prefers mild summer temperatures and may die away by the end of summer in very hot climates.
Calendula does not need much in the way of feeding. If planted in fertile garden soil, it requires no additional feeding at all. Marginal soils may require feeding with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer, but over-feeding can make the plants leggy and spindly. Container plants require monthly feeding with a diluted, balanced fertilizer.
How to Care for Your Calendula
If deadheaded regularly, this plant can bloom from spring through fall and beyond. In warmer areas, the calendula may take a break from blooming during summer heat and then put on a show as temperatures fall in autumn. Regular pinching keeps the 1-3 foot (30-90 cm.) plant bushy and prevents tall, spindly stalks.
Now that you’ve learned how to grow calendulas, take advantage of their long-lasting blooms in the herb garden or light shade area. Experiment with use of calendula flower petals to replace saffron in recipes. If you are so inclined, use plant parts as a topical treatment for minor scrapes and cuts.
Calendula can be found in many different preparations. It is the flower heads that are used to prepare the calendula medicine.
Calendula extract can be prepared as a tincture to be taken internally or as an ointment to be used externally. Calendula ointment, calendula oil or calendula cream can be used to promote wound healing on the skin, especially shallow wounds by applying it around the area.
Furthermore, calendula plants can be prepared as a tea which is one of its more traditional uses. Calendula tea is a gentle way to incorporate the healing properties of the flower into your daily schedule. This way it helps to soothe all of the tissues of the digestive tract while also calming the body down.
Soothing and Healing
Possibly the most important and well-known properties of the Calendula herb is its anti-inflammatory action. These anti-inflammatory properties allow calendula oil to topically soothe inflamed skin and rashes of any kind. It both works to soothe and calm down the reaction on the skin as well as heal the skin so that this reaction does not continue to happen in the future.
In addition, these actions make this an incredible tool for healing tissues internally as well. Calendula has an affinity for the digestive tract. It helps to stimulate the digestive function decreasing stagnation and allowing food to move through our bodies. It also helps to support any of the digestive tissue along the way that is inflamed or compromised in any way. It can heal the tissue and tighten it up making it more resilient to stressors. At the same time, it can help to decrease pain by calming the tissues themselves. This can help it to relax the muscles and can be especially helpful in digestive cramping or period cramping.
Overall this herb is one that works to soothe the entire body from an internal and external place.
Caution should be taken when using calendula over deep wounds as it is so efficient at healing that it could theoretically heal the outer layers of skin before the inner layers. Those with an allergy to the Asteraceae family including daisies and daisy-like plants should avoid using calendula in any capacity as it could elicit an allergic reaction.
To make a tea that soothes internal mucous membranes, add calendula flowers to water in a ratio of a tablespoon of fresh or two teaspoons of dried flowers to a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer or allow to steep for 10 minutes.