Virtues: We love pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) for its bright flowers, tolerance of cool temperatures and ease of care. Calendula flowers attract butterflies and they are edible flowers useful in salads or to tint cake batter and frosting. Calendula officinalis is also used in alternative medicines and in cosmetics, like many other ornamental herbs.
Common name: Pot marigold
Botanical name: Calendula officinalis. (Pot marigold is not a kind of true marigold, which are members of the genus Tagetes.)
Calendula flower: Yellow, orange, white and red are the typical colors of the calendula flower. They are daisy-like and may have a single or double row of petals, depending on the variety.
Calendula foliage: Green, two to four inches long, ovate.
Calendula plant habit: The calendula plant generally grows one to two feet tall and wide, with a rounded habit and dense branching and leaves.
Best season: Spring and fall. Pot marigold is grown for its flowers. In the warmest areas calendula flowers and grows through the winter.
Origin: Calendula officinalis is native to southern Europe. A number of named cultivars are available to gardeners, including several heirloom varieties such as Calendula ‘Radio’, which appeared on the cover of Horticulture‘s January 2011 issue.
Growing calendula: Pot marigold is a cool-season annual. It grows best in the spring and fall in most regions. In USDA Zones 9b, 10 and 11, calendula will flower through the winter.
Because of pot marigold’s preference for cool weather, plant it in the spring or the fall for seasonal color. It is suitable for container gardening or growing in the ground. Calendula is easy to grow from seed, which can be direct sown.
Calendula officinalis prefers full sun. It tolerates all kinds of soil with good drainage and requires even watering. In hot climates, cut pot marigold back in summer. It may revive in fall.
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