Annuals for Your Garden: Calendula Officinalis

Ilona Erwin

Calendula Officinalis

Called “Poor Man’s Saffron” and “Pot Marigold” the proper Latin name of Calendula officinalis tips you off to the fact that this was a plant which was accepted as an important medicinal plant, belonging in a monastery necessary storeroom.

The genus label was so called because the flower was reputed to be in bloom on the calendsthe first days of each month of every month. Who says learning the Latin nomenclature of a plant had to be boring? History and botanical details, but on to the plant at hand!

Today, although a novel edible plant, Calendula is mainly grown because it is so pretty and easy. Its blossoms can brighten up any sunny spot, but especially the edges of vegetable gardens.

Calendula Seeds

3 Important Things To Know About Calendula officinalis

  1. Calendulas survive light frosts and often bloom well into late fall.
  2. They self seed prolifically.
  3. Aphids are their most common insect problem

Calendula Officianalis In Your Garden

The Look

The flowers are either single with a daisy form, or they can be fully doubled looking very much like chrysanthemums. In shades of orange and yellow, the hybrids can have beautiful subtle colors such as cream and apricot. The center disc is often brown, but may be lighter.

It hath pleasant, bright and shining yellow flowers, the which do close at the setting downe of the sunne, and do spread and open againe at the sunne rising.-A Niewe Herball

Grows twelve to eighteen inches high, and can be a bit “sprawly”.

The light to medium green leaves look somewhat fuzzy and are a long oblong shape. Calendula foliage is clasping and sticky.

Just A Memory Now

Don’t mistake this English “Marigold” for the American one, which belongs to the genus “Tagetes”.

How To Grow Calendula

[Garden Guide]

calendula seeds

calendula seeds

Calendula is a native of the Mediterranean region. They are hardy annualsplants with one season growth cycle, which can tolerate light frost and can be directly sown into the garden.

  • Like sun, but also grows in part sun
  • Calendula like cool temperate areas with mild summers; they are cool season annuals in Ohio
  • Can be direct seeded in April in Ohio, anytime the weather is open.
  • In either fall or spring sow the seeds outdoors 1 1/4 inch deep.
  • Well drained, average soil of most any type suits Calendula officinalis.

More How-To

A second sowing in early summer for a fresh wave of flowers is possible, but not necessary.

Good growing practices:

  • Deadhead spent flowers for best blooming
  • The plants are easy to transplant, should you want to move them.
  • Requires darkness to germinate- sow 1/4″ to 1/2″ deep
  • You can give the entire plant a “haircutTrimming off the growth for rejuvenation of the plant” midseason


Calendula will self-sow, readily, but the results will not be the color or form of the hybrid varieties. Instead, the hybrids revert to the single flowers in golden yellow and orange; not unlike the one pictured here.

Garden Styles

Calendula make the perfect Cottage garden flowers, and are good for herbal and vegetable gardens, too. The fact that these annuals are “pot herbs” and have beneficial medicinal properties makes them worthwhile for these uses, as well as beautiful and easy to grow.

Having a very old history of cultivation, they are appropriate for historical gardens. Mentioned by Shakespeare, it would be a good addition to a Shakespeare theme garden.

Easy to grow, consider a planting of Pot Marigolds for a child’s garden.

Grow Children’s Love Of Nature

Calendula is also a candidate for the cutting garden. The blooms last well when cut and provide beautiful mum-like flowers in luscious colors if you plant the double forms.

Victorian cutting garden

Plant Facts

[Fun Facts]

The petals can be used in stews, soups, and spark fresh salads. That is why they have the nickname “Pot Marigold”. Try Calendula Citrus Salad. Use just opened flowers for best flavor.

Often used as an ingredient in face creams, Calendula officinalis is antiseptic, anti-fungal, and astringent; useful for wound-healing. An infusion can also be made for a hair rinse. Herb profile.

In the language of flowers, Calendula stands for “joy”.

Reputed to take the sting out of bee stings, and the dried petals to repel insects.

More than 100 varieties of Calendula are known to exist.

Annual Flowers

Additional resources
Some Med Facts

As a Crop

‘Bronzed Beauty’ Source:

Excellent resource books on herbs and annuals


Credits: Feature image courtesy of Audrey on Flickr.

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.