Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is a bright and cheerful flower that blooms in shades of yellow and orange. It is a member of the daisy family and has a long history of medicinal and culinary use. Calendula petals can be used to make teas, infused oils, and salves that are said to have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. In the garden, calendula is a popular companion plant that attracts pollinators and beneficial insects while repelling pests. It is easy to grow from seed and thrives in full sun and well-draining soil.
How to Grow Calendula Organically
- Choose the right time: Calendula is an annual herb that is best planted in the spring or fall. Seeds can be planted in the fall in mild-winter areas.
- Select a location: Calendula prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. It can grow in a variety of soil types, but prefers a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
- Prepare the soil: Loosen the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches and remove any rocks or debris. Add compost or aged manure to the soil to improve soil fertility and drainage.
- Plant the seeds: Calendula is usually grown from seed. Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and 12-18 inches apart. If planting a large area, consider using a seed spreader.
- Water the plants: Keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged. Water the plants deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather.
- Fertilize the plants: Calendula does not need a lot of fertilizer. You can add a light application of balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, once or twice during the growing season.
- Control pests and diseases: Calendula is generally pest and disease-free. However, it can attract aphids and spider mites. Use organic methods like neem oil or insecticidal soap to control pests.
- Harvest the flowers: Calendula flowers are usually harvested when they are fully open. Cut the flowers off the plant using a sharp pair of scissors or pruners.
Following these steps will help you grow calendula and harvest its bright, cheerful flowers. Calendula is commonly used in herbal remedies and skin care products due to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It can also be used as a dye for textiles and as a culinary herb.