Spring is very definitely in the air so I thought we’d do something different this month: a flower instead of a vegetable. Before you turn away, asking “What value is that?”, read through the rest of the article – you may be pleasantly surprised.
Calendula is an annual flowering plant to 60cm. Sometimes called ‘pot marigold’, calendula comes in a limited range of colours: the most common being orange, then yellow and, more rarely, cream or pale yellow. Calendula is a member of the family ‘compositae’ or ‘asteraceae’, commonly called “daisies”. Like all daisies, calendula is very attractive to pollinators and other beneficial insects, particularly hover-flies, lacewings and ladybugs. Pot Marigolds are easy to grow, hardy, and the bright colours make a cheerful addition to any garden or vase. For these reasons alone, calendula would be worth growing.
Calendula can be added to your summer meals because they have tasty leaves which add a spicy flavour and edible flowers which add a bright touch of colour to a salad, or spice up a dessert.
Calendula petals can be used in homemade soaps and beauty products, such as ointments, creams and lotions. Food and natural fibres can be dyed yellow by using calendula flowers. The flowers are said to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
The scientific, or Latin name, for the plant is Calendula officinalis. Translated, ‘officianalis’ means “from the officina”, the storeroom of a medieval monastery where the herbal ingredients, remedies and potions were stored. When ‘officianalis’ is part of a plant name, it shows that the plant was used, in medieval times, for its medicinal properties. Other plants with ‘officianalis; in their title are asparagus, borage, comfrey, ginger, hyssop, jasmine, lemon balm, rosemary and watercress
Seeds can be sown directly or into seed trays, late winter to early autumn, that is, August to March. They flower, on average, 10 to 12 weeks after being transplanted to the garden.
PSW Seed Bank has four varieties of calendula available:
- the common orange variety. also known as ‘pot marigold’ (a single row of petals around the centre)
- yellow flowered, as in the photo above
- ‘Mayan Orange’ – double orange flowers
- ‘Pacific Beauty’ – large orange, yellow and cream flowers
Seeds are only available to current financial members of Permaculture Sydney West.
The current seed catalogue is open until 30 November:
Until next month
Lynne (PSW Seed Savers Coordinator)
Disclaimer: This article is for gardening information and general interest only. Being neither a herbalist or qualified medical practitioner, I cannot give any medical advice on the use of calendula, internally or externally. Readers of this article must do their own research before using calendula for any purpose other than as a garden plant.