Calendula annual or perennial

Marigold Flowers: Different Strokes for Different Folks

Are marigolds effective as companion plants? According to the University of California, Davis, “When grown along with annual vegetables, nematode control usually isn’t very good.” Researchers at the University of Florida verified root-knot nematodes will find and reproduce on roots of susceptible crops or weeds, so inter-planting marigolds and susceptible crops together, is very risky and may increase the damage to the susceptible crops by increasing nematode populations because some varieties of marigolds attract root nematodes, while other varieties repel them.

All soils contain nematodes, some of which are beneficial and some that are detrimental to vegetable crops, provided they are in large enough numbers. Only soil tests specifically for nematodes can determine the soil population and kind of nematodes in any given garden.

If inter-planting or companion planting isn’t useful to repel insects, do marigolds have other beneficial uses in the garden? According to Cornell University Department of Agriculture, destructive above-ground pests often locate their food by smell (cabbage moths, for instance). Marigolds, as well as many culinary herbs such as garlic, chives, catnip, horehound, wormwood, basil, mints, and tansy, all give off scents which seem to repel pests, or at the very least, confuse the unwanted insects. A small amount of insect protection can be achieved by inter-planting some of these as companion plants — herbs and marigolds — in large enough numbers.

Marigolds are useful for repelling or eliminating large numbers of root nematodes, (provided a nematode assay shows you have them), by crop rotation. Researchers at Cornell University have demonstrated significantly beneficial effects in controlling nematodes by growing a thick cover crop of marigolds for one season prior to planting the vegetable crop. Researchers insist that in order to ensure nematode control, plantings should be dense, at the rate of one marigold plant every 7 inches in all directions. Further, to be effective, weeds must be removed since some nematodes are attracted to native weeds and will reproduce on them.

No marigold variety controls all types of nematodes. ‘Cracker Jack’ marigolds show good control of southern root-knot nematode but is a host plant for other nematodes such as the stubby-root and reniform nematodes. Growers need to determine which nematodes they have before choosing a marigold variety to use as a cover crop.

Planting a cover crop of marigolds after the first spring crop is finished, can be useful in controlling nematode populations. The spring crop of spinach, radishes, cucumbers or lettuce, for example, can be followed by densely planting marigolds for the remainder of the season. If populations of root nematodes are high, the crop rotation with marigolds will need to be done annually to keep the populations under control.

So the proven facts in all this? Companion planting of marigolds have little value other than being pretty and attracting some butterflies, and possibly masking the attractive smell (to pests) of the crop. To actually control nematodes, dense plantings of marigolds, spacing 7 inches apart, works best. Some marigolds repel nematodes, while other varieties can actually create a home for them to reproduce.

Nematodes aren’t the same in every part of the country. Unless you know you have severe problems with root nematodes, the best advice by the experts is to plant some marigolds and enjoy their beauty and avoid planting the ones that might help establish nematodes in your garden.

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Use marigold flowers in salads, with cream cheese and basil in tomato dishes, in rice and egg dishes. Marigolds are their own unique plant with a history that dates back before recorded history and they are a pleasure to have in the garden.

Marigold

Calendula has been considered beneficial in reducing inflammation and promoting wound healing. It has been used to treat a variety of skin diseases and has been seen effective in treatment of skin ulcerations, eczema, juvenile acne and dry phthiriasis. Improvement has been seen in as little as 3-4 days of treatment according to the Universitatea de Medicina si Farmacie.

Calendula is one of several herbs used traditionally to treat conjunctivitis and other eye inflammations as it helps to reduce the swelling and redness of eye infections. It is also believed that calendula may have some anti-spasmodic action, and as such, it has been used to relieve menstrual cramps.

Calendula is used to aid the healing of wounds and internal and external ulcers. It is an anti-septic and improves blood flow to the affected area. Some clinical studies validate the early treatment of stomach ulcers, although further research is needed (Chakurski 1981; Krivenko 1989).

Calendula cream is good for acne and nappy rash. An infusion is good for digestion and relieves colitis and symptoms of menopause. As an anti-fungal agent, it can be used to treat athlete’s foot, ringworm, and candida. The tincture applied neat to cold sores encourages healing.

Calendula contains chemicals, which have been shown in animal studies to speed up wound-healing by several actions that include increasing blood flow to the affected area and promoting the production of collagen proteins. Calendula also possesses anti-septic and anti-inflammatory effects due to its flavonoid content. In mouthwashes and gargles, calendula soothes sore throat or mouth tissue; in solutions, it has been uses to treat hemorrhoids.

Compresses of calendula blossoms are helpful for varicose veins. Results from recent animal and laboratory studies show that calendula may also have some anti-infective properties, particularly against fungal infections and against viruses.

Calendula’s high-molecular weight polysaccharides stimulate immune system activity (Wagner 1985) and has been researched for immune system activity. It was initially determined to have some potential therapeutic activity against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): extracts significantly inhibited HIV-1 in vitro, and reduced HIV-1 reverse transcriptase in a dose- and time-dependent manner (Kalvatchev 1997).

Calendula today, is being investigated for it’s anti-cancer properties. In conjunction with other herbs such as Echinacea purpurea, Scorzonera humilis L., and Aconitum moldavicum, there has been evidence of success in treating certain cancers (Heren’s carcinoma) according to the Fedkovich Chernivtsi State University in the Ukraine.

In one small study of about 250 women undergoing radiation therapy after surgery for breast cancer, a commercial calendula ointment reduced the amount of skin irritation better than another commonly-used commercial preparation. Women who used the calendula ointment also reported less pain from the radiation. Investigations into anti-cancer and anti-viral actions continue.

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Pot Marigold
(Calendula officinalis LINN.)
Click on graphic for larger image

Botanical: Calendula officinalis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae

  • History
  • Cultivation
  • Parts Used
  • Medicinal Action and Uses

—Synonyms—Caltha officinalis. Golds. Ruddes. Mary Gowles. Oculus Christi. Pot Marigold. Marygold. Fiore d’ogni mese. Solis Sponsa.
—Parts Used—Flowers, herb, leaves.

The Common Marigold is familiar to everyone, with its pale-green leaves and golden orange flowers. It is said to be in bloom on the calends of every month, hence its Latin name, and one of the names by which it is known in Italy – fiore d’ogni mese – countenances this derivation. It was not named after the Virgin, its name being a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon merso-meargealla, the Marsh Marigold. Old English authors called it Golds or Ruddes. It was, however, later associated with the Virgin Mary, and in the seventeenth century with Queen Mary. —History—It was well known to the old herbalists as a garden-flower and for use in cookery and medicine. Dodoens-Lyte (A Niewe Herball, 1578) says: ‘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.’ Linnaeus assigned a narrower limit to the expansion of its flowers, observing that they are open from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon. This regular expansion and closing of the flowers attracted early notice, and hence the plant acquired the names of solsequia and solis sponsa. There is an allusion to this peculiarity in the poems of Rowley: ‘The Mary-budde that shooteth (shutteth) with the light.’ And in the Winter’s Tale: ‘The Marigold that goes to bed wi’ th’ sun, And with him rises weeping.’ It has been cultivated in the kitchen garden for the flowers, which are dried for broth, and said to comfort the heart and spirits. Fuller writes: ‘We all know the many and sovereign virtues in your leaves, the Herbe Generalle in all pottage.’ (Antheologie, 1655.) Stevens, in Maison Rustique, or the Countrie Farme (1699), mentions the Marigold as a specific for headache, jaundice, red eyes, toothache and ague. The dried flowers are still used among the peasantry ‘to strengthen and comfort the hart.’ He says further: ‘Conserve made of the flowers and sugar, taken in the morning fasting, cureth the trembling of the harte, and is also given in the time of plague or pestilence. The yellow leaves of the flowers are dried and kept throughout Dutchland against winter to put into broths, physicall potions and for divers other purposes, in such quantity that in some Grocers or Spicesellers are to be found barrels filled with them and retailed by the penny or less, insomuch that no broths are well made without dried Marigold.’ Formerly its flowers were used to give cheese a yellow colour. In Macer’s Herbal it is stated that only to look on Marigolds will draw evil humours out of the head and strengthen the eyesight. ‘Golde is bitter in savour Fayr and zelw is his flowur Ye golde flour is good to sene It makyth ye syth bryth and clene Wyscely to lokyn on his flowres Drawyth owt of ye heed wikked hirores . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Loke wyscely on golde erly at morwe Yat day fro feures it schall ye borwe: Ye odour of ye golde is good to smelle.’ ‘It must be taken only when the moon is in the Sign of the Virgin and not when Jupiter is in the ascendant, for then the herb loses its virtue. And the gatherer, who must be out of deadly sin, must say three Pater Nosters and three Aves. It will give the wearer a vision of anyone who has robbed him.’ From Eleanour Sinclair Rohde’s Old English Herbals: ‘Of marygold we learn that Summe use to make theyr here yelow with the floure of this herbe, not beyng contet with the naturall colour which God hath geven the.’ Gerard speaks of: ‘The fruitful or much-bearing marigold, . . . is likewise called Jackanapes-on-horsebacke: it hath leaves stalkes and roots like the common sort of marigold, differing in the shape of his floures; for this plant doth bring forth at the top of the stalke one floure like the other marigolds, from which start forth sundry other small floures, yellow likewise and of the same fashion as the first; which if I be not deceived commeth to pass per accidens, or by chance, as Nature often times liketh to play with other flowers; or as children are borne with two thumbes on one hande or such like; which living to be men do get children like unto others: even so is the seed of this Marigold, which if it be sowen it brings forth not one floure in a thousand like the plant from whence it was taken.’ Culpepper says it is a: ‘herb of the Sun, and under Leo. They strengthen the heart exceedingly, and are very expulsive, and a little less effectual in the smallpox and measles than saffron. The juice of Marigold leaves mixed with vinegar, and any hot swelling bathed with it, instantly gives ease, and assuages it. The flowers, either green or dried, are much used in possets, broths, and drink, as a comforter of the heart and spirits, and to expel any malignant or pestilential quality which might annoy them. A plaister made with the dry flowers in powder, hog’s-grease, turpentine, and rosin, applied to the breast, strengthens and succours the heart infinitely in fevers, whether pestilential or not.’

—Cultivation—The Marigold is a native of south Europe, but perfectly hardy in this country, and easy to grow. Seeds sown in April, in any soil, in sunny, or half-sunny places germinate freely. They require no other cultivation but to keep them clean from weeds and to thin out where too close, leaving them 9 to 10 inches apart, so that their branches may have room to spread. The plants will begin to flower in June, and continue flowering until the frost kills them. They will increase from year to year, if allowed to seed themselves. The seeds ripen in August and September, and if permitted to scatter will furnish a supply of young plants in the spring.

Only the common deep orange-flowered variety is of medinical value.

—Parts Used—The flowers and leaves.

Leaves. – Gather only in fine weather, in the morning, after the dew has been dried by the sun. Flowers. – The ray florets are used and need quick drying in the shade, in a good current of warm air, spread out on sheets of paper, loosely, without touching each other, or they will become discoloured.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Marigold is chiefly used as a local remedy. Its action is stimulant and diaphoretic. Given internally, it assists local action and prevents suppuration. The infusion of 1 ounce to a pint of boiling water is given internally, in doses of a tablespoonful, and externally as a local application. It is useful in chronic ulcer, varicose veins, etc. Was considered formerly to have much value as an aperient and detergent in visceral obstructions and jaundice.

It has been asserted that a Marigold flower, rubbed on the affected part, is an admirable remedy for the pain and swelling caused by the sting of a wasp or bee. A lotion made from the flowers is most useful for sprains and wounds, and a water distilled from them is good for inflamed and sore eyes.

An infusion of the freshly-gathered flowers is employed in fevers, as it gently promotes perspiration and throws out any eruption – a decoction of the flowers is much in use in country districts to bring out smallpox and measles, in the same manner as Saffron. Marigold flowers are in demand for children’s ailments.

The leaves when chewed at first communicate a viscid sweetness, followed by a strong penetrating taste, of a saline nature. The expressed juice, which contains the greater part of this pungent matter, has been given in cases of costiveness and proved very efficacious. Snuffed up the nose it excites sneezing and a discharge of mucous from the head.

The leaves, eaten as a salad, have been considered useful in the scrofula of children, and the acrid qualities of the plant have caused it to be recommended as an extirpator of warts.

A yellow dye has also been extracted from the flower, by boiling.

—Preparations and Dosage—Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1 drachm.

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Lemon Gem Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) Seeds
Orange Gem Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) Seeds
Red Gem Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) Seeds
French Marigold (Tagetes patula) Seeds
Mexican Marigold (Tagetes minuta) Seeds
Aztec Marigold (Tagetes erecta ‘Crackerjack’) Seeds
Sweet Marigold (Tagetes lucida) Seeds
Lemon Gem Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) Plants
Orange Gem Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) Plants
Red Gem Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) Plants
Lemon Mint Marigold (Tagetes lemmonii) Plants
Tarragold™ Marigold (Tagetes lucida) Plants

Common Name Index
A MODERN HERBAL Home Page

Bear in mind “A Modern Herbal” was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900’s. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.

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History And Folklore

In medieval Europe calendula was widely available and was known as “poor man’s saffron” as it was used to color and spice various foods, soup in particular. It was used not only to color foods, but also as a dye to color hair and to make butter look more yellow. Believed to be first cultivated by St. Hildegard of Bingen, an herbalist and nun practicing herbalism in the 11th century in present day Germany, calendula is a mainstay in a variety of European historical herbal texts. A Niewe Herball, from 1578, by English botanist Henry Lyte states that calendula ‘… hath pleasant, bright and shining yellow flowers, the which do close at the setting down of the sun, and do spread and open again at the sun rising’ referring to the flower’s well known propensity to open in the day and close at night or on overcast days.

Nicholas Culpepper, a 17th century botanist, herbalist and astrologist, mentioned using calendula juice mixed with vinegar as a rinse for the skin and scalp and that a tea of the flowers comforts the heart. Astrologically associated with the sun and the fire element, calendula was believed to imbue magical powers of protection and clairvoyance, and even to assist in legal matters. Flowers strung above doorposts were said to keep evil out and to protect one while sleeping if put under the bed. It was said that picking the flowers under the noonday sun will strengthen and comfort the heart.

Calendula was used in ancient times in India as well, and according to Ayurvedic healing principles is energetically cooling and has a bitter and pungent taste.

And, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), calendula (called Jin Zhan Ju) is considered energetically neutral and drying and is used to support healthy skin.

Traditionally, in North American indigenous cultures, it has been employed to combat the occasional upset stomach. Traditional use mirrors many of our contemporary applications of this plant.

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Calendula

Calendula (common name: pot marigold) is a genus of plants that belong to the family Asteraceae. There are about 20 species of plants that come under the genus Calendula. Calendula is herbaceous, in the sense that the leaves and the stem above the level of the soil die at the end of the growing season.

Some species of calendula die in one year (annual). Some other species live more than two years (perennial). The genus is native to the region stretching eastward from Macaronesia (a group of islands in the North Atlantic around the Europe-North Africa region) to Iran, with the whole Mediterranean region in between.

Its common name marigold is likely to owe its origin to the Virgin Mary. Gardening connoisseurs consider the marigold to be one of the best flowers that can be grown in a garden because they are rugged and not at all finicky about where they grow. However, the ideal location for their growth is a sunny place with a soil rich in substances favorable to plant growth and that is well-drained.

Scientific classification

Kingdom Plantae Division Magnoliophyta Class Magnoliopsida Order Asterales Family Asteraceae Tribe Calenduleae Genus Calendula

Facts about Calendula

  • Calendula (marigold) grows well in all seasons except in very coldest climates.
  • Marigolds propagate by means of seeds.
  • Different marigolds have different colors. African marigolds have a color different from the French marigolds.
  • Pot marigolds are grown as herbs. Marigolds are thought to be edible and they are used to naturally color salads.
  • Marigolds are eaten by certain species of insects and the flowers need to be protected if you are growing them.

Growing tips

  • Sow seeds in spring. The seeds germinate easily in sunny and half-sunny locations.
  • Maintain a distance of 10 inches between the seeds.
  • The plants will begin flowering in June and will continue till late fall/ winter when the frost kills them.
  • The seeds ripen in late summer and the scattering of seeds will result in a fresh brood of plants in the spring.

Calendula (Marigold)

Interesting facts about Calendula:

Since ancient times, this herb has been used for various medicinal purposes.
It has been used traditionally to treat various diseases and conditions, such as fever, stomach upsets, ulcers, menstrual problems, capillary engorgement, chronic ulcers and varicose veins. The plant is also used to heal wounds, improve eyesight, improve mood, and ease digestive issues.
Calendula is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and is often used to treat infections.
It is also well known for its beneficial effect on human skin and can be used to treat a range of skin problems, from wounds to acne. It can be used on cuts, bruises, burns, scrapes, and insect bites. The powerful skin regenerating properties of Calendula stimulate collagen, making it an effective anti aging and glow boosting tool.
Moreover, it can also reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

The flowers of Calendula are edible and make a pretty addition to salads, soups, stews, syrups, conserves and even cocktails.
Due to its strong orange color and slightly bitter taste, this plant has traditionally been used as a substitute for the more expensive saffron.

The golden dye of Calendula has been used for fabrics and cosmetics.
Calendula has many essential oils which are extracted for use in the cosmetic industry for perfumes, lotions, lip balms, face toners, massage oils and some bath bombs.

Calendulas have been used in rituals, religious ceremonies and celebrations through time.
The Egyptians considered the herb to have rejuvenating properties, while Hindu people adorned the statues of their gods in their temples with Calendulas.
Early Christians called Calendula “Mary’s Gold”, after the belief that the Virgin Mary wore the blossoms ornamentally.
Aztecs, Romans and Greeks used these flowers in many rituals and ceremonies.
The French believed that if you stared at Calendula flowers for a few minutes every day that your eyesight would improve.

Growing calendula (Calendula officinalis) from seed provides a spectacular display of light yellow to deep orange blooms from early summer until frost. Sun-loving plants are usually low and compact with attractive double blossoms that can be 2-1/2 to 4 inches across. Start in flats for early season flowering or sow directly in the garden. Gorgeous in patio pots or mixed borders.

Calendula’s edible flowers and spicy leaves add zest to summer salads and will draw plenty of ooohs and ahhs when presented in a meal. Used in salves, lotions and balms, the daisy-like flower is more than a pretty face, where it’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties are valued for soothing and restoring the skin.

You’ll have this annual’s beauty all season, since it is cold hardy and stands an eye-catching 18-24 inches tall.

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Calendula Seeds

Also known as “pot marigold,” calendula’s orange and yellow blossoms will last all summer.

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Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Caring for Calendula

  1. Have bright, sassy orange and yellow flowers 2.5-4 in. across on plants 18-24 in. tall
  2. Easy to grow indoors (start 6-8 weeks before last frost) or sow outdoors after last frost
  3. Offer full sun and compost-rich soil or potting soil
  4. Bloom all season long; deadhead and fertilize to increase blooms
  5. Like marigolds, will help repel insects, so are great for companion planting

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 45-60 days from seed to flower
Height: 18 to 24 inches
Spacing: 24 to 36 inches apart in all directions

Site Preparation

Plants prefer full sun but will tolerate light shade in warmer areas. Calendula is best planted in prepared garden beds or large containers filled with organic potting soil. Prior to planting in beds, work a shovelful or two of well-aged manure or compost into the ground to improve soil conditions (watch 6 Tips for Growing Great Flowers – video).

How to Plant

A cool-season plant, calendula can be started indoors under grow lights 6-8 weeks before the last frost or directly seeded outdoors after the last frost (see Starting Annual Flowers Indoors). Seeds germinate in 5-15 days.

Water well throughout the gardening season and apply a liquid bloom fertilizer several times during the gardening season to promote big, beautiful blossoms. Pinch off spent flowers on a regular basis to extend the blooming period. Mulch to prevent weeds, conserve moisture and help keep roots cool.

Insect & Disease Problems

Insects and disease are not typically a problem for calendula. In fact, the flower may be helpful for deterring many insect pests, making it a good companion plant for vegetable gardens. Try planting pot marigolds around chard, carrots and tomatoes for added insect protection.

Seed Saving Instructions

Calendula will produce lots of seed in a similar fashion to a zinnia or marigold. When the blooms dry out, cut them off and hang upside down in bundles. The seeds are contained in the heads, and once dry and crisp, they can be lightly hand-crushed and winnowed from the seed chaff.

Calendula in the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid, Spain.
Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is one of the most reliable cool season annuals.

Not only does its brightly-colored flowers make it a cheeful addition to the garden, calendula also has an interesting history. Its flower petals have been used throughout history medicinally, as a religious symbol, and as a dye.

Dried calendula petals can be ground up to produce a pale yellow dye that can be used on fabrics or in cooking; early American colonists actually used calendula to color butter and cheese.

Calendula has also been valued by some for its therapeutic use in a salve for burns and cuts, or for generally hydrating the skin.

Characteristics

Calendula produces cheerful, daisy-like flowers. These flowers are either single or double and can be yellow or orange. The flowers are edible and can be used whole as a garnish, or dried and ground for use as a culinary dye. It’s suggested that you taste the flowers before cooking with them, as some people find the taste bitter.

Calendula, sometimes called pot marigold, has a dense, rounded shape and grows to a height and spread of about 1 to 1.5 feet. It works well in mass plantings as an annual groundcover, either in an open bed or beneath a small tree. As its other common name would imply, it also does well in containers. Calendula blossoms attract butterflies and keep well as cut flowers.

Planting and Care

Calendula can be planted in full sun or partial shade, spaced 12 to 18 inches apart, in well-drained soil. It can be difficult to find calendula transplants, so your best bet is to look for seeds.

This plant self-sows, so you may find yourself with some bonus calendulas popping up next year. You can help prevent this by deadheading spent flowers before they go to seed. Deadheading will also help your pot marigold continue to put out new flowers. If you do find yourself with a few “volunteer” calendulas, you can dig up the seedlings and plant them elsewhere in the landscape or pass them along to a friend.

Don’t limit yourself to the flowerbed, though—calendula looks great in the winter vegetable garden, bringing a spot of color next to the collards and cabbage.

Yellow calendula flower. Photo by Rob Duval. (CC-BY-SA 4.0)

UF/IFAS Publications

  • Calendula officinalis, Calendula, Pot Marigold

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Calendula

Common Name

pot marigold

Traits

  • Sun
  • Container

Flowering Season

Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring

Genus

This genus in the daisy (Asteraceae) family comprises around 20 species of somewhat aromatic annuals and perennials that are the original marigolds, and which originate from the Mediterranean region and the nearby Atlantic Islands. Now widely naturalized, they often colonize waste ground and thrive in poor soils, which doubtless helped them to establish well away from home. The genus name comes from the Latin calendae, meaning the first day of the month, and refers to the long flowering season, as calendulas bloom almost all year round. Several species, especially Calendula officinalis, have a long history of herbal and culinary use.

Appearance

These small bushy plants have simple lance- to spatula-shaped, often aromatic leaves that form dense clumps. From mid-winter to late autumn, depending on the species, they are covered in cream, yellow, or orange flowerheads, with many ray florets. These plants can be troublesome, their ease of establishment on almost any soil type has seen them become widespread garden escapees, however, many cultivars have been raised, and these make a cheery border planting and are useful companion plants.

Cultivation

Calendulas are undemanding plants that are easily grown in a position in full sun or half-sun in any reasonably fertile well-drained soil. Regular deadheading will help to prolong flowering. These plants can fall victim to mildew in autumn and are also susceptible to other fungal diseases. Propagation is mainly from seed, though the perennials may be divided. They often naturalize and may become slightly invasive.

Gardening Australia suggests you check with your local authorities regarding the weed potential of any plants for your particular area.

© Global Book Publishing (Australia) Pty Ltd from Flora’s Gardening Cards

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