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More Than Just a Garden Beauty: How to Dry, Use, and Grow Calendula

There are a lot of great reasons to grow Calendula. In addition to their bright orange and yellow daisy-like blooms which bring cheer to the garden, Calendula attracts good insects like bees and butterflies while deterring unwanted pests. But most importantly, Calendula has a long-standing reputation as a natural anti-inflammatory skin care treatment. It’s easy to grow, harvest, and dry in the home garden, and beneficial for use in recipes and DIY beauty products, a practice that dates back to ancient history.

How to grow, dry, and use calendula

The early Greeks and Romans used to drink Calendula tea for upset stomach as well as adding the flower to soups and stews to improve digestion. The bright hues were often used to dye fabrics and cosmetics. Most commonly, Calendula was used in salves, ointments, or as a poultice for treating wounds. Calendula has been historically used for burns, cuts, bruises, and conditions that involve inflammation.How to Grow and Use Calendula

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is part of the daisy family, Asteraceae, and they are also known as pot marigolds. Many gardeners grow calendula in the vegetable garden to attract pollinators and repel pests. Calendula contain the phototoxin alpha-terthienyl, which protects against root-eating nematodes. Nematode-susceptible tomatoes do very well with companion-planted marigolds. You can also plant marigolds near cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts to deter cabbage worms. These fragrant flowers are also reported to mask the scent of the vegetables protecting them from veggie-sniffing insects far and wide.How to Grow and Use Calendula

How to Grow Calendula from Seed

Calendula can easily be started from seed, either indoors or out. To sow the seeds outdoors, the best time to plant them depends on what type of climate you live in, but a good rule of thumb is to plant them just after the last frost of the season. To start Calendula indoors, plant them approximately 8 weeks before you plan to move them outside into the garden and allow them to germinate in the dark for a week or two.

Plant the seeds about ¼” deep. Dwarf Calendula should be spaced 8” apart, while the taller varieties should be about 20” apart. Calendula like lots of sunlight and can become leggy if they do not get enough, so plant them somewhere bright but not extremely hot.

How to Grow and Use Calendula

How to Grow Calendula in the Garden

Calendula can survive in dry conditions, but during the hottest time of year water them once a week to keep them perky and encourage blooming. Deadhead old flowers regularly to promote new growth, and if the plant begins to look wilted or otherwise unhealthy cut it back quite drastically. It will come back healthier and bloom later in the year.

Calendula can fall victim to powdery mildew, a fungal disease that can be identified by white patches on foliage. Remove the affected area of the plant as soon as you notice it and dispose of it to prevent the disease from spreading.

How to Grow and Use Calendula

How to Harvest, Preserve, and Use Calendula

Organically-grown Calendula flowers are the gold standard for medicinal plants, so you will probably want to preserve some for home use. Harvest flowers when they are fully open and spread them out on a screen or in a shallow basket to dry. They are ready when the petals feel papery to the touch. Store in an airtight jar and use them in natural beauty recipes, herbal infused oils, or tea.How to use Calendula

You can also use the flowers fresh as cake decorations, or add the petals to a fresh salad.Calendula petals on salad

Here are some of the recipes on Garden Therapy that include Calendula:





  1. I am a big fan of calendula-mostly as a flower in my garden, but I do use calendula oil to treat minor abrasions and find that it works quite well! Your photos are gorgeous and I am finding myself envious of your garden.

  2. I have grown calendula plant in my garden and it looks very beautiful. You have shared such a nice tips on calendula with growing tips and beautiful images. Keep sharing such an informative articles

  3. Seed Question: How about the small tightly curved dark inner ones? Are they seeds and are they more or less viable then the outer larger lighter spiky seeds?

    • Hi Julie, The seeds I plant for calendula come from many unique varieties and I find that the seeds can look very different. Some are small and dark as you say, while others are the larger shell-like spikey light coloured ones. I would think that if you are getting different looking seeds it could be from different varieties. To test the viability of your particular seeds, why not do a germination test? Put 10 seeds in a damp paper towel and put that in plastic someplace warm. Check daily for germination and log the results of how many of the 10 were viable.

  4. OMGGG! That PUZZLE! So awesome, yet so hard! I’m ashamed to say it took me 150 moves to open it! Such a fun idea!


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