Calendula – Calendula officinalis

by Gini Sage

Calendula is a very prolific, easy to grow annual flower that produces orange, yellow, lemon, apricot and cream coloured flowers on long stems. It is native to the Canary Islands, South and Central Europe, and North Africa, and a common sight in most “cottage gardens”. The blooms of Calendula are daisy-like in shape, up to 4 inches across, and are produced from mid-summer to the first heavy frost. They can be used in cut flower arrangements, and the petals are edible, often used in soups, stews and salads.

Calendula is best grown from seeds. They should be sown directly into the garden early in the season and covered with ¼ inch of soil, as they require dark to germinate. They prefer rich, well drained soil, but will tolerate average soils. They prefer full sun, but will grow in partial shade. Add plenty of compost, and an all-purpose fertilizer once per month to optimize bloom production. Calendula deters asparagus beetle and tomato hornworms making them excellent companion plants to these vegetables. The plants should be dead-headed to promote longer bloom time. The last flowers of the season, however, should be left on the plants to mature, and drop their seeds, as Calendula will readily re-seed and provide years of lasting enjoyment in your garden.

Article originally published in the Uxbridge Horticultural Society Newsletter, November 2007

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