Calendula officinalis, commonly known as pot marigold, is a short-lived plant grown in warmer regions. They are primarily found as bright orange and yellow flower blooms, though shades of pink and cream are also available. Flower beds and herb gardens often have pot marigold flowers. The flowers bloom from late fall through early spring.
The calendula flowers are said to have healing qualities. It is also a common anti-inflammatory agent and can fight many a disease. They are aromatic herbs that can help treat wounds, scars, ulcers, frostbites, skin damage, and herpes. They are also used for blood purification.
Characteristics Of Calendula Officinalis
Pot marigold is mainly found in shades from bright yellow to deep orange. The flower heads contain tubular disc flowers in the middle and ray flowers. The plant does not have any spines.
Once fully grown, the plant can have a height of anywhere between 1 to 2 feet. It is usually grown as an annual flower.
Calendulas are suitable for growing on sandy, loamy, and clayey soils. The plant prefers well-drained soil and can thrive in soils that are nutritionally poor. The soil should have a pH from 6.0 to 7.0. However, these medicinal plants are capable of tolerating a wide range of pH. They also prefer sunshine, though they can grow in partial shade as well.
How To Grow Calendula Officinalis
Growing calendula officinalis is not a highly complex process. You can grow calendula from either seeds or transplants. They should be planted in well-drained and fertile garden soil, in spots that receive 6-8 hours of sunlight. The seeds should be sown before the last frost date of the spring.
1. Growing From Seed
About 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date, start planting calendula seeds indoors in a seed starter mix. You could also sow them directly into the garden soil, just before the last spring frost date. The plant should bloom within two months of sowing the calendula seeds.
2. Growing In Containers
Calendula is also sometimes planted in pots or containers. While most varieties of calendula thrive in pots, shorter variants are better suited. While selecting a pot, make sure that it is a well-draining pot and use organic soil.
If the pots or containers do not have enough drainage holes, it will make the roots soggy, leading to rotting. You will have to feed potted plants with a balanced fertilizer regularly.
3. Harvesting Calendula
Once you’ve sown the seeds, germination takes somewhere between 5 to 14 days. When they hit maturity, the yellow and orange flowers have to be picked every couple of days. This promotes the flower’s growing phase and prolongs the calendula’s flowering season.
If some of the flowers have petals sticking out at odd angles or even petals that have dropped off, they have to be deadheaded. These are overripe blooms.
The best time to pick out flowers is in the heat of the day, under the full sun. This time is when they have evaporated, and the flowers look perky. After picking, dry out these calendulas in airy baskets or on screens. It may take 7 to 10 days to dry up a calendula flower properly.
While calendula is reasonably easy to grow, attention should be paid to certain factors. Let’s dive right in and have a look at some important considerations for growing pot marigold.
In general, calendula prefers the sunlight. However, it may perish under extreme heat. In such hot areas, it should receive shade at times.
While in the growing stage, Calendula officinalis should be watered frequently. Once the plants are established, they only need occasional watering. Avoid giving them too much water.
Calendula should consistently be grown in fertile garden soil. It does not require additional feeding in such cases. When using marginal soil, you may need to add some water-soluble fertilizer to your garden. Be careful not to add excess fertilizer to the seeds as it may ruin them.
4. Temperature and Humidity
The calendula plant prefers mild summer temperatures. It is not suited for scorching hot climates and may die when it is peak summer in such areas. The seed needs sun, but not humidity.
Calendula needs well-drained garden soil. It should also be rich in organic material. If it is not well-drained, wetness can cause rotting of the roots. The plant can tolerate a wide range of soil pH but prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil.
Care Tips For Calendula Officinalis
Once you’ve considered factors such as sunlight, water, temperature, humidity, etc., there are a few tips that you can follow to ensure healthy plants.
- Stir a few inches of compost into the garden soil for the health of the calendula seed. It promotes hardiness and flowering.
- Choose the sunny spots of your garden for planting pot marigold seeds. A little shade is suitable for areas with extreme heat so that the plants don’t end dried up. Remember, if grown in very shady locations, the plant may become leggy.
- To encourage summer blooms, give the plant somewhere between 1 to 1.5 inches of water once a week. This is only required during hot weather.
- Smear a layer of mulch on your soil, about 2 to 3 inches tall. It will prevent the growth of weeds while simultaneously helping the soil maintain a consistent moisture level and cool temperature.
- If there are still any weeds growing near the calendula plant, pull them out.
- Pests may grow on the underside of the leaves. While calendula does not easily suffer from insect-related issues, regularly inspecting the leaves is a good idea. It may sometimes attract aphids and whiteflies.
- Calendulas may self-seed at times and become weedy. Removing spent flowers will keep your flower bed neat and tidy.
- For a bushier form, pinch back young calendulas. If the summer heat or sun gets to your plant, cut it and give it time to recover.
- With the help of your garden hose, give the foliage a strong blast of water to control pests.
- Look out for powdery mildew. It is a fungal disease that leads to the growth of white powdery patches on the foliage of the calendula. If you find any plant tissue that has been affected, immediately dispose of it.
- Calendulas should be grown along with vegetables. Good companion crops are cucumbers, peas, asparagus, tomatoes, and carrots.
These tips will help you grow your plants into healthy blooming calendulas. They are essential in getting those beautiful and bright, orange and yellow color flowers.
Why Grow Calendula Officinalis?
Calendula is a very beneficial species. It can be helpful in various aspects, including but not limited to the ones mentioned below. Read on to find out why you should grow calendulas.
1. Medicinal Benefits
Calendula has many healing and medicinal properties. It is one of the main uses of the plant. The stem, as well as the petals, have significant advantages.
It can be used to treat a wide range of ailments affecting the skin. It is also helpful in treating fungi and infections. It is commonly used for skin infections such as diaper rashes, yeast infections, wounds, and other conditions.
It is common to use calendula to reduce pain and inflammation. The plant has also been used as an aid in cancer treatments, especially for side effects of radiation treatment. Herbalists use calendula to heal sunburn, cuts, chapped lips, scrapes, and minor burns.
Calendula is high in antioxidants and is widely used in cosmetics. It is known to stimulate bile production and regulate menstrual cycles. It helps in relieving muscle spasms and boosting weak immune systems as well. Historic texts mention the use of calendula as an anti-depressant herb.
2. Soil Protection
The calendula plant has thick and fibrous roots. These roots are effective as cover crops to protect the soil. They mimic living mulch, like compost.
If you want to protect your soil for the winter season, sow calendula seeds in the middle of the summer, and the crop will bloom by fall. It will keep the garden covered for the winters. If you want a crop cover for the spring season, sow the calendula seeds in the fall.
The plants are quick to grow and die out eventually. When they perish, they enrich the soil.
We know that calendula is known as pot marigold. However, did you know marigolds are a visual pleasure? You can cut the flower off of your plants and use them in bouquets, table arrangements, etc. They are also a stunning addition to flower beds or garden beds with their colorful petals.
4. Trap Crop
These yellow and orange color flowers have a reputation for being “trap crops” or “companion crops.” They ooze out a sticky sap that pests find very appealing. This keeps nearby plants secure.
The sap discharged by the calendula is more delicious to pests than other crops. While the pests are busy attacking these flowers, the rest of your plants remain safe. It is an excellent companion to other plants.
5. Attracting Insects
The flowers of a calendula plant provide nectar and pollen. This nectar attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. It ends up attracting and trapping valuable insects such as hoverflies, lacewings, and ladybugs on their petals.
These insects stick around wherever they find food in abundance. So, they stay on calendulas and even mate on their petals, leading to an increase of beneficial insects in the ecosystem.
The use of pot marigold is encouraged in edible landscaping. The bright orange and yellow color flowers plaster a cheerful color on the garden bed. They help in making landscapes beautiful without much effort. These medicinal plants with colorful petals are easy to grow and are pretty low maintenance.
7. Culinary Creations
Adding calendula to food is quite common. Calendula is edible in its fresh as well as dried form. They can be used in salads, cream cheese, or with cooked vegetables. Calendula is also used as natural food coloring at times, such as in broths or frostings.
Calendula also happens to be a crowd-pleaser when it comes to teas. It is like a hug in a mug during wintertime. A warm cup of calendula tea can be incredibly uplifting.
Dried calendula flowers make an excellent addition to soups and stews. They serve as immunity-boosting tonics in winters. In medieval Europe, calendula was added to loaves of bread, syrups, and conserves as a herb.
Whole flowers harvested in the summertime can be easily added to ice cube trays and frozen with water. They make beautiful ice cubes and elevate summer beverages in the most delightful manner.
8. Calendula Oil
Calendula oil can be extracted from the flowers. It has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties. This oil also works as an antiseptic.
The oil extracted from calendula can be used to make ointments, creams, salves, tinctures, teas, and capsules.
This oil is an excellent option for protection against the sun. It works as a sunscreen and reduces the chances of skin cancer as well.
Calendula oil is often used to treat acne. It is a part of many face cleansers and masks. Other than that, it is a great healer for rashes and wounds.
These are just a few of the common uses of pot marigold. It can be used for many more things, including hair dyeing and coloring rice in fresh or dried form. The usability of this plant is extremely impressive.
There are so many reasons to grow calendula. These yellow and orange flowers are an excellent medicinal healing herb. They bloom into beautiful flowers and grow without much fuss. The bright yellow calendula flowers give your garden a charming golden hue. Calendulas also attract pollinators good for the ecosystem. The flowers are edible as well.
The list of benefits of this plant is endless. From all that we’ve read so far, it can be concluded that having pot marigolds in your garden is a great choice. From beautiful to practical, these blossoms are indeed a gift to humanity.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.