Rising Calendula: Vigorous, sensible edible flowers

The marigold growing in your garden will brighten up even the dullest corner with gorgeous bright yellow and orange, daisy-like blooms that bloom from late spring to the first frost. Growing calendula (also called marigold) from seed is easy and straightforward if you are new to gardening, as it is a great, easy-to-grow starter plant for people who are just starting out in gardening.

Traditionally, gardeners grow marigold flowers for medicinal and culinary purposes. Calendula has both antifungal and antimicrobial properties for fighting infection, as well as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits for boosting immunity. Flowers and leaves are edible and can be added to salads or dried for herbal teas. Skin-soothing beauty products are also made from the extracted oils.

It is possible to grow marigold plants for fresh cut flowers, and later the flowers can be dried for longer ornamental value. There are many new varieties of calendula that range in flower colors from creamy yellow, deep red, orange to pink.

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Brief instructions for care

Growing marigolds is very rewarding. Source:

Common name (s)Marigold, marigold
Scientific nameMarigold officinalis
Days to harvest6-8 weeks
BrightFull sun to partial shade
waterRegular watering
floorMost types of soil
fertilizerNot necessary
DiseasesPowdery mildew

Everything about calendula

Serrated petal tipsNote the delicately toothed tips of the petals. Source: Terrie Schweitzer

The botanical name for Calendula is Calendula officinalis, with the term "officinalis" indicating the medicinal or culinary benefits of the plant. Marigold is also commonly known as "marigold" and this can lead to confusion with other flowers such as French marigolds. While both plants are members of the Asteraceae family, the French marigolds come from the genus Tagetes and the marigold (Calendula) from the genus Calendula.

Calendula is an annual or short-lived woody perennial native to badlands and rocky habitats in southern Europe and northern Africa. The leaves are light to medium green and have a fuzzy texture on both sides. They are lanceolate to 2 to 7 inches with slightly wavy or serrated edges, and grow alternately along the stem. Daisy-like flowers, with single and double blooms ranging from pale to bright yellow, orange, and pale pink, are borne on branched stems in late spring, summer, and fall. Marigold flowers unfold from tight buds and can reach 2-3 inches in diameter. When the flowers fade, the green, crown-like seed heads mature to brown and easily self-sow. The seeds are crescent-shaped with a rough, prickly texture and about a quarter of an inch long. Calendula becomes about 60 cm high in the first year.

Although both the leaves and the marigold flowers are edible, the flowers are mainly used for cooking, e.g. For adding petals or whole flowers to a salad to add color and interest. Dried petals can also be used in herbal tea infusions and the pressed flowers can be used as cake decorations. Traditionally, marigold flowers have been added as a golden food coloring for butter, cream, and soups. Also known as the poor man's alternative to saffron, calendula gives dishes a subtle warmth, spice and orange color.

In medicine, marigold has been used in beauty products such as moisturizing and soothing body creams, lotions, lip balms, and soaps for its healing properties and the extracted oils.

This multitasking plant will even help attract beneficial insects into your garden to control pests, and its aromatic foliage will keep insects from devouring your vegetable garden.

Types of marigolds

There are many different varieties of calendula plants to choose from. Some of our favorites are:

  • Indian prince: Creates single and double roses in yellow and orange.
  • Snow Princess: One of the palest varieties with creamy-yellow-white florets.
  • Pink surprise: Yellow-pink double florets.
  • Touch of Red Buff: Pink with dark red-orange flower tips.
  • Neon: A bright neon orange marigold with double florets.
  • Direct hit: Almost pompom-like shape, with yellow petals and a dark, reddish-brown center.

Plant marigolds

Orange marigoldThis marigold is almost neon orange. Source: PMillera4

Plant marigold seeds directly in September / October before the first frost of the year or in spring after the last frost. Alternatively, marigold seeds can be sown in the house in starter cells in September / October and March / April.

Successful germination occurs between 15-25 ° C and seedlings should appear within 7-14 days. Plant marigold seeds half an inch deep in moderately fertile, well-drained, but moisture-retaining soil. Container grown plants may need some extra grain or perlite to be added to the soil / compost mixture for additional drainage once they are planted in their future permanent garden location.

If you're planting outdoors, planting seeds under the cover of a greenhouse or plastic tunnel can produce larger plants that will bloom earlier in the season. All plants grown indoors will need to harden for at least a week to get used to outdoor conditions.

If you have already grown marigold and would like to grow it again in the same location, simply sow your plants in your garden bed or in your pots yourself. Calendula tolerates full sun to light shade and prefers a protected location. Dilute directly sown plants and plant marigold grafts in the garden 30 cm (12 in) with 60 cm (2 feet) between rows of plants.

Calendula, when planted near food crops, can act as both a trap fruit and an herb. If planted nearby, the marigold will become an aphid feeding target rather than your prized vegetable. This can get rid of some of the pest strains you normally face while gardening and reduce the risk of aphids feeding on your leafy vegetables like lettuce or Swiss chard.


MarigoldCalendula plant in full bloom. Source: Unconventional Emma

You can easily grow calendula in your garden. Follow these tips for healthy, vigorous plants that will bloom by the first frost.

Sun and temperature

Grow marigold in full sun to partial shade as it prefers direct sun for at least 4-6 hours per day. USDA zones 8 through 10 are ideal growth locations. Plants bloom best in the cooler seasons and can be dormant in summer when temperatures rise above 29 ° C and bloom again in fall when the weather has cooled.

Calendula is frost hardy, but does not survive prolonged freezing temperatures. Plants that overwinter outdoors require frost protection with fleece or additional heating. If you want, bring your plant indoors and grow the marigold in containers by a bright window during the winter months. This keeps them away from risky weather conditions.

Water and moisture

Water in the morning or in the evening when the plants are wilting. Timed soaking tubes work well. Alternatively, if you water by hand and water the soil around the plant in a targeted manner, you will avoid wetting the foliage. Humid conditions can cause powdery mildew and other fungal diseases of the leaves and stems.

Calendula is relatively drought tolerant as it comes from rocky wasteland habitats.


Calendula grows well in most types of soil and is not fussy about fertility or soil pH. However, like many plants, it works best if you plant marigold in loamy, well-drained, moisture-retaining soil.

If you are growing in containers, provide plenty of good quality compost and loamy garden soil with additional gravel or perlite for drainage.


Calendula usually does not require feeding and will grow quite happily if the right soil, light, and water conditions are in place. However, if the plants aren't thriving, supplement with liquid algae or a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the spring to give young plants a boost, followed by a potassium-rich fertilizer during flowering. If you'd like, you can give it an extra boost in the summer to encourage more bloom development.


Periodically dead marigold plants to produce continuous marigold flowers. Pinch out the growth tips of young plants to encourage branching, and prune the side branches throughout the season to develop bushier new growth and less spindly plants.


Calendula is propagated from seeds. The seeds can be sown directly in their final growth position or in modular cell trays for later transplanting.

For direct planting, sow marigold seeds in autumn 6-8 weeks before the first frost of the year or in spring after the last frost. When growing in starter cells, sow indoors 6-8 weeks before the first winter frost or in spring 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Sow the seeds half an inch deep, cover, and water well.

If you've grown marigold in the past year, you may discover plenty of free home-seeded marigold seedlings popping up in the garden. These are great for transplanting to other locations, including containers and flower boxes, or as gifts to friends and neighbors.

Harvest and storage

Calendula officinalis var. BatteredThe "Shattered" variety of the marigold is very noticeable. Source: Thoughtful Look

The best part about growing marigolds is the harvest! Whole flowers can be used in salads, ornamental arrangements and even dried for a therapeutic tea.


Harvest marigold in the morning when the flowers are fully open. If you are harvesting as a cut flower, cut the stems to the desired length, leaving some leaf knots to encourage more flowering stems. Put the stems in a bucket of fresh water and let them sit in a cool and shady place. This allows the flowers to condition, hydrate, and any hitchhiking bugs can head for new pastures. After a few hours the flowers are ready to be served.

When you are harvesting marigold for the flower heads and petals, just cut the flowers off and keep them in a cool place until needed.


Marigold flowers will stay fresh in the vase for up to a week if the water is changed regularly and the stems are cut off at the bottom with each water change.

Flower heads are best kept in sealed plastic cups or glassware in the refrigerator. This is how the flowers look optimal and protect the petals of the marigold from pressure points. Flowers, similar to herbs, can be air-dried, either strung by their stems or laid flat on a tray in a cool, dark, and ventilated place. Once completely dry, flowers can be kept in airtight jars for up to a year.


Center of marigoldClose up of the center of a calendula flower. Source: ccrrii

While calendula is fairly straightforward and easy to grow, there are a growth problem or two to watch out for.

Growing problems

The main difficulty in growing marigolds is plants will sow too early, become long-legged, and in general messy in appearance. This usually happens if the plants have not died regularly and side branches have been pruned to keep the plant bushy.

Another common problem is plants Self-sowing at the beginning of the season and compete with the mother plant for space, water and nutrients. The simple solution is to regularly remove the seed heads instead of dropping the seeds on the ground and sorting out seedlings as soon as they appear.


Aphids are the main pests of marigold, especially towards the end of the season when the plants are weaker. Aphids (Aphidoidea) are small, sticky, yellow, green, and black pests that feed on the sap of new growth. Encourage many beneficial insects to enter the garden by planting a good variety of wildflowers and umbelliferae such as coriander. Spray with an organic insecticidal soap or neem oil. When infested, pyrethrin is an organic pesticide that can address the problem and reduce the pest population on your marigolds. Crushing aphids with your fingers or knocking them off with a quick jet of water can also help reduce the number.


Marigold is prone to mildew when grown in moist, shady conditions, and especially towards the end of the growing season. It grows as thick whitish dust on the leaves, inhibits photosynthesis and hinders growth. Maintain good garden hygiene and remove infected leaves to prevent the disease from spreading and re-infecting in years to come. Make sure there is sufficient sunlight and good air circulation. Treat affected plants with an organic fungicide such as sulfur, copper fungicide, or potassium bicarbonate before or at the first sight of the disease.

frequently asked Questions

Q: is calendula annual or perennial?

A: Calendula is so easy to grow that it is usually grown as an annual. It can also be grown as a short-lived perennial in warmer climates.

Q: is marigold a good companion plant?

A: Calendula is a great companion plant that will trap aphids from your vegetable garden and attract beneficial insects.

Q: Are marigolds cut and do they come back?

A: The more flowers you harvest from a marigold, the more flowers it will produce in return. By consistently cutting off and pinching out the side tips, healthy, strong plants full of flowers develop.

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