This orange flower is not only beautiful but is also edible. It is used in folk medicine for skin care.
|Common Name||Calendula, pot marigold, common marigold|
|Botanical Name||Calendula officinalis|
|Plant Type||Perennial, annual|
|Mature Size||1-2 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer, fall|
|Flower Color||Yellow, orange, red, white, pink|
|Hardiness Zones||2a-11b (USDA)|
Calendula is generally an annual plant. The seeds are easy to grow directly into gardens or containers.
Calendula is primarily an annual unless you live in hardiness zones 9 to 11, where it can be grown as a perennial. It is easy to grow from seeds directly sown in the garden or containers. Planting seeds indoors in early spring and transplanting into a garden that sees full sun after the frost dangers have passed. Surprisingly, Calendula can continue to thrive in poor conditions, however, rich soil is best. Once the plant has been transplanted, it’s doesn’t need much water or fertilizer. Even though this plant is a full sun plant, it doesn’t do well in hot temperatures and will start to wilt in high heat. Try pinching back young plants, this will promote bushy growth. Remove the dead heads, this will help reblooming.
- These plants are not toxic to dogs or cats.
- Calendula is an excellent companion plant for a vegetable garden because it attracts pollinators such as bees and bumblebees, as well as beneficial insects. The bright blooms are a favorite of butterflies.
- Ancient Greek, Roman, Arabic, and Indian cultures used calendula as a medicinal herb and as a dye for fabrics, food, and cosmetics.
Calendula prefers full sun, but it will start to wilt in the summer months. It may need some afternoon shade.
Calendula needs a well-drained soil. 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 (6.0 to 7.0).
Once the plants have been transplanted and well established, the plant will thrive on occasional watering. It’s best to use a watering can so you can control how much water the plant receives. Avoid too much water with these plants.
Temperature and Humidity
Calendula prefers early summer temperatures and may wilt or die by the end of summer and/or very hot climates.
A hard frost could also kill the plants. If frost or freezing temperature are on your forecast, you can protect the plants with a blanket overnight. Several inches of mulch can also protect the plants from old temperatures.
As long as the plant is planted in fertile garden soil, it doesn’t really require any additional feeding at all.
There are numerous varieties of Calendula officinalis. Popular varieties include:
- ‘Pink Surprise‘: Gold and yellow flowers, sometimes with pink edges and dark apricot centers
- ‘Touch of Red‘: Flowers with a mixture of orange and red shades with red-tipped petals
- ‘Greenheart Orange‘: Flowers with orange petals surrounding lime-green centers; a very unusual looking plant
- ‘Citrus Cocktail’: A compact, short plant with yellow and orange flowers; works well in containers
- ‘Dwarf Gem’: A compact variety with double-petal blooms of orange, yellow, and apricot; another good variety for containers
- ‘Prince‘: A tall variety that is heat-tolerant with orange and yellow blooms.
- ‘Golden Princess‘: Bright yellow blooms with a contrasting black center.
The flowers of a Calendula plant can be used as edible flowers in salads and other recipes. Some people describe the taste of the flower petals to be peppery and a little bitter. The petals can also be used to create a rich yellow dye. The flowers will need to be collected in the late morning, after the dew is dried. The flowers will need to be picked when they are fully open. Cut the flower head and spread them out on a screen and lay in a dry, shady spot to fully dry. Turn them occasionally until they are completely dry; then store them in canning jars until ready to use.
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10+ things to make with Calendula Flowers:
1. Calendula Flower Infused Oil
Calendula infused oil can be massaged directly onto dry, irritated skin or used as an ingredient in recipes for salves, diaper balm, lotions, creams, soaps, and lotion bars. Shelf life of strained, infused oil is around 1 year.
To make it: fill a canning jar about half-way up with dried calendula flowers. Cover with about twice as much as your favorite carrier oil, or to the top of the jar. Cap the jar of calendula flowers and oil and tuck away in a cabinet for around 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally as you remember to. When the infusing time has passed, strain.
2. Calendula Flower Salve
This recipe uses the infused oil we made above. It’s perfect for including in your first aid kit since it helps soothe many minor skin ailments such as scratches, dry spots, diaper rash, razor burn, minor scrapes, insect bites and more. Calendula salve can be used on pets and farm animals too!
To make it, combine 3.5 oz (100 g) of calendula infused oil with 0.5 (15 g) beeswax in a heatproof jar or empty tin can.
Set the jar/can down into a saucepan containing an inch or two of water. Place the pan over a medium-low burner and heat until the wax is fully melted. Pour the melted mixture into tins or jars. Shelf life of calendula salve is around 1 year.
3. Whipped Calendula Coconut Oil
This is a super simple recipe that requires only two ingredients:
- dried calendula flowers
- coconut oil
- Infuse calendula flowers in coconut oil, using the quick method (see #1 above.)
- Once fully infused and strained, pour the melted calendula-infused coconut oil in a bowl and place it in the refrigerator for about 20 to 30 minutes or until it starts firming up.
- Remove from the refrigerator and beat the chilled oil with a handheld mixer until it’s light & fluffy. This may take up to 5 minutes.
- Scoop the coconut oil in a jar and store in a cool area that stays under 76°F (24°C), the melting point of coconut oil.
4. Calendula Lotion Bars
Lotion bars are the best thing ever for dry, cracked skin. They’re really easy to throw together and make wonderful gifts too!
Lotion bars are usually made with equal parts (by volume) of infused oil, beeswax and a vegetable butter, such as shea, mango or cocoa. If you make a lotion bar and it feels too soft, just remelt it and add more beeswax. If it feels too hard, remelt it and add more oil. Lotion bars are very forgiving to work with!
To make, combine 1/4 cup (52 g) calendula infused oil, 1/4 cup (28 g) beeswax and 1/4 cup (44 g) shea, mango or cocoa butter in a heatproof canning jar or upcycled tin can. (For a vegan version, use roughly half as much candelilla wax instead of beeswax.)
Set the jar/can down into a saucepan containing an inch or two of water. Place the pan over a medium-low burner and heat until everything is melted. If you’d like to add a few drops of essential oil for scent, do so at this point. Pour the melted mixture into heatproof silicone candy molds.
To use, rub a lotion bar over your skin wherever it feels dry. They’re especially helpful for spot treating rough feet, knees and elbows. Store your lotion bars in a cool area, out of direct sunlight and they should have a shelf life of around 9 months to a year.
5. Calendula Bar Soap
This is a mild, unscented calendula soap bar that’s very gentle. It’s made with calendula infused oil and calendula tea.
6. Calendula Liquid Soap
This soap is made using a crock pot and potassium hydroxide, to form a soap paste that you can dilute and use as liquid soap.
7. Calendula Oatmeal Soak
This bath soak is specially designed for sensitive or itchy skin types. Ground oats soothe irritated skin while calendula flowers calm inflammation. If desired, you can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil for a light relaxing scent.
- 2 tbsp dried calendula petals
- 1/4 cup (26 g) rolled oats
- 1/2 cup (144 g) fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup (63 g) Epsom salt
- 2 to 3 drops lavender essential oil mixed with 1/4 teaspoon olive or sunflower oil (optional, for scent)
How to Make: Using an electric coffee grinder, blend the oats and calendula together until finely powdered. Stir together the sea salt and Epsom salt. If using, add the diluted lavender essential oil. Add the powdered oats and calendula and stir until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Store the soak in a tightly closed glass jar for three to four months, keeping in mind that the scent may fade over time.
How to Use: To use, dump the entire cup of bath soak into a bathtub as it fills with comfortably warm water.
8. Calendula Tea
Calendula tea can be used for all sorts of things, from a sore throat gargle to a disinfecting wound spray to a hot spot treatment for dogs.
9. Calendula Cupcake Sprinkles
Edible flowers, such as calendula, can be used as all-natural colorants to create cupcake and baking sprinkles that are free from fake colors.
10. Calendula Cream
This lovely calendula cream is thick and rich, almost like a body butter, and can be used like lotion or like a healing salve.
11. Calendula Cocoa Butter Balm
This Calendula Cocoa Butter Balm is filled with nourishing ingredients. The cocoa butter is deeply moisturizing, and the infused oils are softening and healing as well. The beeswax adds some hardening and further protects the skin.