Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
To about 1ft tall with mounding habit. Flowers range from golden to orange to cream with all combos in between.
Full sun, regular garden soil.
Seeds can be direct sown in spring or fall, or started in flats and transplanted out. Calendula is a really great 'starter herb' for your home apothecary garden, it has large seeds that are easy to handle and germinate. These large seeds look a little like tiny alligators, so it's a fun one for kids to plant too.
Easy to care for annuals. The plants are shallow rooted and they do require a few waterings throughout the hot season. Deadheading, or harvesting the flowers, will prevent self-seeding if you wish to avoid this. Otherwise you can look forward to having Calendula plants return year after year.
Harvesting Calendula is a little like harvesting sunshine. The flowers are the medicinal part used. The entire flower head can be plucked easily from the plant and then used fresh or laid out to dry. The flowers are most medicinally potent in the heat of summer.
The flowers are entirely edible and can be used to decorate your plate. The petals add some colour and sunshine sprinkled in garden salads. The flowers are also sometimes used to colour cheese, or as a substitute for saffron.
Calendula is well know is the Western herbal materia medica for its skin healing properties. When steeped in oil, the bright orange and yellow flowers offer their sunny colours to the oil lending it a glow like liquid gold. With an affinity for the epithelial cells of the body, Calendula oil can be applied topically to heal chapped skin, rashes, fungal infections, eczema, wounds, and all that ails the skin.
More than just a topical herb, Calendula tea or tincture can be taken internally to heal the lining of the gut, or our 'inner skin'. It can be useful for treating Candida overgrowth, and healing intestinal hyperpermeabilty (aka Leaky Gut Syndrome) which can in turn help us heal from autoimmunity and allergies (Calendula's action as a lymphagogue and gentle liver stimulant also work great here too.)