Calendula flower is a beautiful cool-season flower. It is also called pot marigold, for it being edible. It is a hardy annual with Mediterranean origins. The most common variety is the Calendula Officinalis. Here is how to grow calendula from seed to harvest in Central Texas and any warm regions.
When to grow calendula in Warm Regions?
Regions with mild winters can grow calendula from fall through early summer. Calendula thrives in cooler weather and tends to succumb to powdery mildew in the humid summers.
Is calendula a perenial or an annual?
Most people treat calendula as an annual plant. In mild-winter climates, calendula can survive and be a perennial if provided shade during the hot summer. Keep in mind that calendula is a self-seeder.
Direct sow vs seed start calendula seeds?
Calendula transplants are abundant in nurseries, but starting the seeds indoors gives you a head start on the season. By the way, calendula seeds are unique-looking. They have different shapes but mainly they look like little horns.
Starting calendula seeds is very easy, despite its fairly low germination rate. The best time to start them is around September, or six to eight weeks before your first frost date.
How to start calendula seeds?
It is best to start calendula seeds in three-inch containers, rather than the seed starting cells. This will prevent unnecessary transplanting step to bigger pots later, which may disturb the root ball.
- Fill clean containers with pre-moistened seed-starting mix,
- Pack the soil in slightly to get all air pockets out.
- Put two to three seeds per container.
- Cover the seeds with soil and pat it gently.
- Don’t forget to label.
- Put under grow light or on a window sill.
How long does it take for calendula to germinate?
If the soil is moist at all times, not dripping wet, the seeds should germinate within a week or so. Keep the light on all day for the seedlings to prevent the stretching of their stem.
When to pot up the calendula seedlings?
Calendula is a tough plant. It can survive in its pot as long as it is getting adequate water supply. As mentioned above, it is best to start the seeds in a good size pot rather than seed cells.
If the plants risk becoming root-bound and the weather does not permit planting them out just yet, pot them up with care. Try to keep the root ball as intact as possible.
When to plant calendula out?
Calendula flower does not like hot weather. In mild winter regions, summer may linger till October. Plant your calendula as soon the weather cools down, with temperatures of 75F (25C) during the day, and 65F (16C) at night.
Protect your newly planted seedlings from the harsh sun by using shade cloth. Direct sunlight may burn the plants and eventually kill them.
How to plant calendula transplants?
- Choose a sunny spot with well-draining soil. Add compost to clay soil to improve its drainage and to sandy soil to increase its water retention.
- Dig a hole as big as the root ball.
- You may add a slow-release fertilizer to the planting hole at this point.
- Hold the plant upside down on the palm of your hand. Squeeze the bottom of the pot gently to release the root ball.
- Flip back the plant and place the root ball in the hole at the soil level.
- Backfill with soil and pat gently to eliminate air pockets.
- Water thoroughly.
Does the calendula need fertilizing?
Calendula is an easy-going plant. It does not demand a lot of attention as long as the growing site is right. Adding compost or slow-release fertilizer is plenty for calendula to thrive and bloom.
Frequent deadheading and removing yellow or old leaves will keep your plant happy.
How to water calendula plants?
Water calendula plant regularly after planting. Allow the soil to dry between each watering. Once the plant is established and new growth appears, it can handle short dry periods.
Growing calendula in pots
Calendula is a great container flower. You plant it on its own pot or add it to an arrangement as a filler. A few pointers to be successful in growing calendula in pots:
- Use well-draining soil.
- Fertilize occasionally to replenish the soil.
- Containers dry out fast, so keep a good watering regimen.
- Calendula plant reaches 24 inches wide tall, so keep the container size in mind.
calendula pest and disease problems
During the growing season, calendula does not suffer from many issues. The problems start showing up when the weather warms up.
1- Powdery Mildew
This is a fungal disease that thrives when it’s warm and humid. It shows in a form of white powdery blotches on the leaves. You may treat the plant with a fungicide of your choice.
Most of the time the plant recovers once the weather is right. If the plant suffers severely, it is best to discard of it and avoid composting it.
They are the most annoying pest in the home garden. They show up around spring. The best defense against them is encouraging the population of ladybugs, their number one predator.
Another way to treat aphids is by using a strong jet of water to wash them off the plant. This should be done twice to three times a week until they disappear.
3- Geometridae larvae
One of the seasons I grew calendula, I noticed this weird-looking yet interesting worm in the middle of the flower. I had a hard time identifying it, but apparently, it is called Geometidae larvae.
It is very small and yellowish in color, with geometrical shapes on its back. This is the larvae of a nocturnal moth, and it feeds off of the center of the flower. If detected early, you can just remove it manually. In small amounts, they do not represent a serious threat to the plants.
The bright-colored flower is very attractive and brightens up any winter garden. It is daisy-like with single or layered petals. The colors range from buttery yellow, orange, to coppery pink.
Calendula is also known by the name Pot Marigold, for it being edible. The yellow petals are used as a replacement for saffron, hence its nickname “Poor man’s saffron.”
Calendula blooms during the cool-season from October till May. Keep deadheading to encourage more flowers. Cut back the plant slightly at the end of winter, to promote bushier spring growth.
How to harvest calendula petals?
People harvest calendula for its medicinal properties, which are used mostly for skin problems. Many collect the petals only, but you can harvest and dry the whole flower head.
Pick the flowers when they are fully open, and before they start wilting. The base of it should feel firm to the touch. Wash thoroughly and look for insects before laying them flat to air dry. Store in an air-tight glass jar.
How to harvest calendula seeds?
To collect calendula seeds, allow the flower to die and dry out. The petals will fall off, leaving the head full of weird-looking seeds. Notice that calendula seeds are not uniform.
Make sure the seeds are completely dry before storing them. Any moisture may cause mold to grow on them and rot. Store them in a paper seed bag, or a glass jar, and keep them in a dry place.
Calendula seeds do not have a long shelf life. Mark the harvest date on the seed pack and use it within a year.
Calendula flower uses
The information provided below is for information purposes. Use your due diligence before consuming anything.
- You can use calendula in teas to calm an upset stomach or soothe a sore throat. Steep two tablespoons-worth of calendula, fresh or dried, in a cup of boiling water for fifteen minutes.
- Add color to your rice or soup with calendula petals.
- Make calendula-infused oil to use on dry skin and eczema. Fill a glass jar halfway through with calendula petals, then fill it up with clear mild oil such as almond or coconut oil. Close it tight and keep it in a dark place for four weeks. Strain then use the infused oil for the skin or use it in homemade skin creams.
Click here to learn more about calendula uses.
How to make calendula-infused oil?
There are many uses for calendula-infused oil. You may use it directly on dry skin to hydrate it and soothe it. You can also use in the home-made skin moisturizing cream.
Choose a mild oil to infuse your calendula flowers in, such as almond. Use one of the following infusing methods.
- Fill a glass jar halfway through with petals, then pour oil over it till full. Shut it close and store in a dark place for four weeks. Strain before use.
- Put oil in a glass bowl and add the petals, one teaspoon per cup. Place on a double boiler and infuse gently for twenty minutes. Don’t allow the oil to boil. Strain and store in an air-tight jar in a dark place.