How to Grow Calendula
The easiest way to grow calendula is by sowing it in open ground. Alternatively, you can start it from seeds indoors and replant, which will allow you to enjoy cheery blooms earlier in the season.
Calendula at glance
- Latin name – Calendula Officialis
- Annual flower
- Easy to grow
- Loves light, full sun is preferable
- Height: 8-27” (depending on variety)
- Flower color – yellow, gold, or orange
- Blooms from June till autumn frost
- Propagation – by seeds
- Days to maturity when planted from seed – 45-55 days
- Harvest: seeds ripen in late summer – early autumn, pick flower heads for the natural remedies in June
- Calendula plant uses: flower heads utilized for medicinal uses (read more here); flower petals used in salads, teas
Choosing calendula seeds
Calendula is propagated by seeds. So, obviously, if you want to grow calendula you need to buy seeds to start.
For calendula seeds you have 3 options:
- Buy organic seeds
- Buy conventional seeds
- Harvest seeds from your own calendula for planting the next year
If you are just starting out to grow calendula, then you have to decide between choice 1 and 2.
If you are planting calendula for medicinal uses or planning to use petals for salads or teas, then, preferably, go for organic calendula seeds. Once planted, you will be able to pick and store seeds for the next year from your own organic calendula plant.
If you plant calendula for decorative purposes, then it doesn’t matter much which seeds you use.
The other thing to consider when you are buying calendula seeds is what height of the plant you are looking for. Depending on variety calendula plant height can range from 8″ to 27″. Short calendula varieties will look good when planted in the borders. Tall variety with large flower heads can be used for cut flowers and bouquets.
Because calendula flowers come in various shades of yellow and orange color when getting seeds be sure that you find a calendula variety with the color of your preference.
You can buy seeds from Home Depot, Lowes, grocery stores in spring time, or various seeds catalogs. Below are my favorite calendula seeds that can be obtained online from Amazon.
Calendula is an unpretentious flower that tolerates cold well and is easy to grow. The flower needs abundant light but will take partial shade. Calendula will do well in average soil. If you are planning for calendula to self-seed (more on that later in the article) then have a dedicated patch in the garden where soil will not be disturbed after seeds fell on the ground in the autumn.
If you are planning to grow calendula in pots – find a place for a pot where it will receive plenty of sunshine.
When and how to plant calendula
Calendula can be sown in open ground, transplanted from seedlings, or planted in a pot.
The easiest way to grow calendula is by sowing seeds in open ground.
Calendula can be planted twice a year: in the spring when the soil thaws and dries and the danger of frost passes, and in the autumn, before the onset of stable frost. If you plant calendula in fall – it will bloom next year.
For spring planting – sow calendula seeds directly outdoors in the garden in April (after danger of frost has passed). The fall planting of calendula is done when the frost at night becomes regular but the soils has not yet frozen.
Calendula plant: annual or perennial?
Calendula is an annual plant, but if you dedicate for calendula undisturbed patch in your garden, the seeds will fall on the ground in the autumn and will sprout, grow, and bloom next year. Then the cycle will repeat over and over. So, practically, you can plant calendula once and have flowers each year afterwards.
Starting plants indoors
If you want to start your calendula from seedlings – sow seeds indoors from the end of February till the beginning of April. Water and cover after sowing so that the soil will not dry up. After the emergence of shoots, remove the cover. Seedlings require bright light and moderate watering.
Begin to harden the seedlings several days before planting in the open soil. Hardening can be achieved by placing seedlings outside a few hours a day for one week before you intend to transplant them.
Calendula seedlings can be transplanted outside when outdoor temperature reaches 55-60 F and no more frost predicted in the forecast.
Calendula takes transplanting well, even during flowering time.
Growing in pots
Calendula is suitable for container gardening and will grow well in a pot on your deck or patio. You can sow seeds in spring directly in the pot, or start indoors and transfer the seedling to the outdoor container later.
Calendula flowers are suited for mass planting , as well as for single planting,
For mass planting the seeds should be sown 3”apart, for a single planting in the flower beds allow 1 square foot for each plant.
Sow calendula seeds 1” deep. Seeds planted in spring should be watered with warm water. Seeds planted in autumn should not be watered.
Calendula seedlings will emerge in 5-7 days after sowing, and in a month the seedlings can be thinned if necessary.
Growing calendula is easy. Since the calendula plant doesn’t require much care, all that you need to do is to keep the soil moist all summer long to ensure bountiful blooming, and do not let your calendula plants get overgrown by weeds. If fertilizers have been added to the soil in advance, then feed calendula with caution, not exceeding recommended amount. Also, at the beginning of flowering, calendula plants can be sprinkled with a complex fertilizer containing boron. This micro element promotes long and luscious bloom.
if you want your calendula to bloom abundantly till autumn frost, then immediately after the first blossoms fully open, snip all the opened flower heads. (You can dry the picked flowers and use them for making natural remedies). Doing so will encourage the formation of large amount of buds and insure lush flowering that will last until deep autumn. If you skip this step, the blooming time of the calendula will last until the end of July.
Calendula is great companion plant to use in strawberry bed because it repels nematodes. Also, you can plant calendula with asparagus to repel asparagus beetles.
Calendula will also attract a lot of beneficial insects and pollinators. You almost always can see bees zooming around calendula flowers. So, you can plant it close to the plants that require pollination in order to attract pollinators.
You can harvest petals, flower heads and seeds from calendula plants.
To ensure the best healing properties harvest flowers in June, right after they have gotten fully opened.
If you use petals for salads and seasoning or use them to make a tea – try to pick petals from newly opened flowers for a pleasant and mild taste: the older the flower – the more bitter the petals will taste.
Calendula seeds ripen at the end of summer – early in the autumn. At the beginning calendula seeds are green ( see photo above), they should be dark brown when you collect them. Calendula seeds are curved and resemble the letter C (or kitty claws. So cute! )
Store seeds in the moisture proof container in your refrigerator for long term storage. According to a scientific study “the seeds stored at 4°C ( 39°F) resulted in higher percent germination than the seeds stored at room temperature and at −15°C, on subsequent testing”.
Final thoughts on How to Grow Calendula
Calendula is one of the easiest plants to grow. As long as you have a sunny spot – you are good to go. You can start the seedlings indoors, or sow seeds directly into the soil outdoors, or grow this beautiful flower in containers. When you let calendula self-seed it will please your eye for years to come and provide you with a bountiful supply of flowers that can be used for making calendula natural remedies.
Do your grow calendula? Do you let it to reseed itself? Share in the comments
And if you found this article useful – be so kind to share with friends.
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