Updated: Feb 8
Plant Family: Asteraceae
Planting and Saving Calendula Seeds
This lovely annual herb has neat looking seeds and is easy to grow in the ground or in pots. You can start calendula seeds as transplants to move out to the garden or just direct sow them in the ground, which is what we like to do. The plants are easy to grow and will thrive all through mild winters, springing up with vibrant yellow-orange flowers that continue to bloom all through spring and sometimes into summer. We like direct seeding calendula in the fall, but we also grow starts to make sure we have plenty to tuck into the garden in early spring too. With the increasingly erratic Texas weather, this has proven to be a good strategy. Growing calendula in patches is also a good idea so they can be covered more easily in case of a deep freeze.
Snip off the resinous flower heads when they’re in full bloom and they will reward you with continuous blooms for many months. You can then put them face down on a screen to dry or use a dehydrator. Then store them in an airtight jar until ready for use.
Calendula in the Garden Ecosystem
Calendula is a great addition to the garden ecosystem and is good medicine, too.
In the landscape, calendula:
🌱attracts pollinators. The flowers stay blooming over a long period and are always buzzing with bees and butterflies!
🌱makes a living mulch. Its dense, thick leaves help cover and protect the soil. They also add biomass to the soil, enriching it as they break down.
🌱traps pests. The flowers’ sticky resin traps pests like aphids and whiteflies, making calendula a great companion for plants prone to these pests. In attracting certain pests, these blooms also attract beneficial insects to the garden like ladybugs and lacewings.
Working with Calendula
Calendula blooms have many first aid uses, and are known to help ease inflamed, irritated tissues - internally and externally. It makes a lovely oil, salve, or spray that is helpful for minor wounds such as scrapes, cuts, and rashes, and it has antimicrobial and antifungal properties as well. Internally as a tea or broth, it soothes irritation in the gut and eases digestion. As a food, the flower petals are edible and add a nice brightness to salads or sweets.
These statements are for educational purposes only. They have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult a licensed health care professional before consuming a new plant -- especially if you are pregnant or have pre-existing medical conditions.