How To Plant Calendula [ Full Guide ]

Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is a stunning and beneficial addition to any garden. Not only does it add vibrant colors, but it also attracts pollinators and has medicinal properties. Planting and growing calendula is a relatively straightforward process, making it a great choice for both beginner and experienced gardeners. In this guide, we will explore all the necessary steps to successfully plant and cultivate calendula, from choosing the right location to selecting the best varieties and caring for your plants.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Calendula

Before delving into the detailed steps, here is a quick overview of how to plant calendula:

  1. Choose the right location: Select a spot with full sun to partial shade, well-drained soil, and good air circulation.
  2. Prepare the soil: Ensure the soil is rich in organic matter and has a slightly acidic to neutral pH.
  3. Plant at the best time: Calendula can be planted from seeds in early spring or late summer to early fall.
  4. Select suitable varieties: Choose from a wide range of cultivars suited to your climate and the intended purpose of the plants.
  5. Care for your plants: Maintain consistent moisture, deadhead spent flowers, and protect them from pests and diseases.

Following these steps will help you establish healthy and flourishing calendula plants in your garden.

Choosing The Right Location For Your Calendula

The success of growing calendula largely depends on selecting the right location. Calendula thrives in certain conditions, and choosing an appropriate spot in your garden is crucial for its growth and development.

Light And Sun Requirements

Calendula plants thrive when they receive ample sunlight. They prefer full sun, which typically means at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. However, they can also tolerate partial shade, especially in hot climates. If you live in an area with scorching summers, providing them with some protection from the intense midday sun can be beneficial.

When choosing a location, observe your garden throughout the day to identify areas that receive the required amount of sunlight. Typically, a south-facing spot or an area with east-west exposure works well for growing calendula.

Soil Conditions

Calendula prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It thrives in moderately fertile soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. Ideally, the pH level should be between 6.0 and 7.0. You can easily test the pH of your soil using a commercial soil test kit available at garden centers.

Ensure that the chosen location has good air circulation to prevent the development of fungal diseases, as stagnant air can promote the growth of mildew and other issues that may affect the health of your calendula plants.

Consider the existing soil conditions in your garden and identify areas with the right pH and drainage. If necessary, you can amend the soil to create an ideal environment for your calendula plants.

Temperature Considerations

Calendula is relatively hardy and can tolerate mild frost, making it suitable for a wide range of climates. However, it thrives in cooler temperatures and may struggle during the peak of summer in hot regions.

If you live in an area with scorching summers, providing some afternoon shade or planting your calendula where it receives partial shade during the hottest part of the day can help protect the plants from heat stress.

Take into account the temperature patterns in your region and choose a location where your calendula plants can thrive without being subjected to extreme temperature fluctuations or prolonged periods of intense heat.

Preparing The Soil For Planting Calendula

Once you’ve identified the ideal location for planting calendula, it’s important to prepare the soil to create a hospitable environment for the plants to thrive.

Soil Preparation Steps

  1. Clear the Area: Begin by clearing the chosen planting area of any weeds, debris, and other unwanted vegetation. This ensures that your calendula plants won’t have to compete with other plants for nutrients and resources.

  2. Loosen the Soil: Use a garden fork or a tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of around 12 inches. This helps to improve aeration and drainage, allowing the roots to penetrate the soil more easily.

  3. Incorporate Organic Matter: Add well-decomposed compost or aged manure to the soil to increase its fertility and organic content. Work the organic matter into the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches to ensure it is evenly distributed.

  4. Adjust Soil pH: If necessary, adjust the soil pH to the recommended range for calendula. Adding lime can raise the pH if the soil is too acidic, while sulfur can lower the pH if it is too alkaline.

  5. Level the Soil: Smooth out the soil surface to create a uniform planting bed, removing any large clumps or rocks that may impede planting and growth.

By following these soil preparation steps, you can create an ideal growing environment for your calendula plants, setting the stage for healthy and vigorous growth.

Best Time For Planting Calendula

Calendula can be grown from seeds or transplants, and the best time for planting depends on your chosen method and your local climate.

Planting From Seeds

If you opt to start your calendula from seeds, the best time to sow them directly in the ground is in early spring after the last frost has passed. In colder climates, you can also sow seeds in the garden in the early fall for a late-season bloom, which can carry through mild winter climates in some regions.

When planting from seeds, it’s important to ensure that the soil has warmed to at least 60°F (15.5°C) for optimal germination. The seeds should be sown at a depth of around 1/4 inch and spaced 8-12 inches apart to allow the plants room to grow.

Planting Transplants

If you choose to plant transplants instead of seeds, you can do so in the early spring after the danger of frost has passed. This allows the plants to establish and grow during the milder months, ensuring they are well-established before the heat of summer sets in.

In regions with mild winters, planting transplants in the fall for a late autumn and winter bloom can also be effective, especially if your winters are relatively mild and frost-free.

Consider your local climate and the seasonal conditions in your area to determine the best time for planting calendula, whether from seeds or transplants, to give them the best start and maximize their growth potential.

Selecting The Best Varieties Of Calendula For Your Garden

Calendula comes in a wide array of cultivars, offering various colors, sizes, and characteristics. When selecting varieties for your garden, consider factors such as climate suitability, intended use (ornamental or medicinal), and desired colors. Here are some popular varieties to consider:

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‘Pacific Beauty’

This variety is known for its large, vibrant, and diverse flower colors, ranging from bright oranges and yellows to creamy whites. ‘Pacific Beauty’ is a popular choice for both ornamental and medicinal gardeners, and its long stems make it suitable for cutting and bouquet arrangements.

‘Bon Bon’

‘Bon Bon’ is a compact variety that produces double flowers in a mix of orange, yellow, and apricot hues. It’s perfect for small gardens or containers and provides a continuous display of blossoms throughout the growing season.

‘Flashback Mix’

For gardeners who love unique and unusual colors, the ‘Flashback Mix’ offers an assortment of blooms in shades of apricot, peach, and cream with charming dark centers. This variety adds a touch of whimsy and charm to any garden setting.

‘Resina’

If you’re interested in growing calendula for its medicinal properties, ‘Resina’ is a top choice. This variety is known for its high resin content, making it valuable for medicinal preparations such as salves and ointments.

‘Ball’s Orange’

For a classic, bright orange calendula, ‘Ball’s Orange’ is a reliable choice. It’s an easy-to-grow variety with single, bold orange flowers that add a cheerful pop of color to any garden bed or border.

‘Pink Surprise’

For a departure from the traditional orange and yellow hues, ‘Pink Surprise’ is a delightful option that produces soft, pastel pink flowers with a hint of apricot tones. This variety brings a unique and charming touch to garden displays.

When selecting varieties, consider your gardening goals and preferences, and choose cultivars that align with your aesthetic and functional needs. Whether you’re looking to create a lively display of vibrant blooms, craft herbal remedies, or attract pollinators, there’s a calendula variety suited to your specific needs and preferences.

Calendula is a versatile and rewarding addition to any garden, offering not only stunning blooms but also practical and medicinal applications. By selecting the right location with proper sunlight, soil conditions, and temperature considerations, preparing the soil effectively, and choosing suitable varieties, you can cultivate healthy and thriving calendula plants in your garden.

Whether you're a novice or experienced gardener, the process of planting calendula is relatively straightforward, and the vibrant flowers and beneficial properties make it an attractive choice for gardens of all types. With the guidance provided in this comprehensive guide, you can confidently plant and grow calendula, enjoying its beauty and benefits throughout the growing season.

Starting Calendula From Seed

Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is a beautiful and versatile flowering plant that can be easily grown in gardens and containers. It is valued for its vibrant colors, aromatic fragrance, and medicinal properties. Calendula flowers can be used for culinary purposes, as well as in herbal remedies, skincare products, and dyes.

  1. Selecting the Seeds: Begin by choosing high-quality calendula seeds from a reputable source. Look for varieties that suit your preferences in terms of color, size, and growth habits. Calendula seeds are readily available at garden centers, nurseries, and online seed suppliers.

  2. Preparing the Soil: Calendula thrives in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Prepare the soil by removing any weeds or debris and incorporating compost or well-rotted manure. Calendula prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6.0-7.0).

  3. Sowing the Seeds: Calendula seeds can be directly sown into the garden bed or started indoors. If you choose to start them indoors, fill seed trays or small pots with a seed-starting mix. Moisten the mix and sow one or two seeds per cell or pot, covering them lightly with soil.

  4. Providing Optimal Conditions: Place the seed trays or pots in a warm location with temperatures around 70°F (21°C). Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. The seeds should germinate within 7 to 14 days. Once the seedlings have emerged, move them to a location that receives plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.

Planting Calendula Seedlings

  1. Choosing the Planting Site: Select a location for planting your calendula seedlings that receives full sun or partial shade. Calendula can tolerate light shade but produces the best blooms in full sun. Ensure that the soil is well-draining and has good fertility.

  2. Preparing the Soil: Before planting the seedlings, prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris. Loosen the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) and incorporate compost or well-rotted manure for added nutrients.

  3. Transplanting Seedlings: Gently remove the calendula seedlings from their containers, being careful not to damage the delicate roots. Make a hole in the prepared soil that is slightly larger than the root ball of the seedling. Place the seedling in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole, firming the soil gently around the base of the plant.

  4. Spacing the Seedlings: Space the calendula seedlings approximately 12 inches (30 cm) apart to allow for proper airflow and to prevent overcrowding. This spacing will also ensure that each plant receives sufficient sunlight, nutrients, and water.

  5. Watering the Seedlings: After transplanting the seedlings, water them thoroughly to help settle the soil and promote root establishment. Ensure that the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. Avoid overhead watering, as damp foliage can make the plants susceptible to diseases.

Maintaining And Caring For Calendula Plants

  1. Watering Requirements: Calendula plants have moderate water needs. Water them deeply once or twice a week, providing approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water per week. Adjust the frequency of watering based on the weather conditions and the moisture levels in the soil. Ensure that the soil is allowed to dry out slightly between watering to prevent root rot.

  2. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants can help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Use materials such as straw, wood chips, or compost as mulch. Apply a 2 to 3-inch (5 to 7.5 cm) layer, taking care to keep the mulch away from the stems to prevent rotting.

  3. Deadheading: To prolong the blooming period and encourage continuous flower production, deadhead the faded or spent flowers regularly. Removing the dead flowers prevents the plant from diverting energy into seed production. Simply pinch or cut off the wilted blooms down to the nearest healthy leaf or bud.

  4. Pruning: Although calendula does not require extensive pruning, occasional trimming can help maintain a compact and tidy appearance. If the plants become leggy or overgrown, use clean, sharp pruning shears to remove the excess growth. Cut back the stems to just above a healthy leaf or bud to promote branching and new growth.

  5. Pest and Disease Management: Calendula is generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, occasional problems such as aphids, slugs, powdery mildew, or botrytis may occur. Monitor the plants regularly and take appropriate action at the first sign of infestation or disease. Use organic pest control methods, such as manually removing pests, applying neem oil, or using insecticidal soap.

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Fertilizing Calendula For Optimal Growth

  1. Soil Testing: Before fertilizing your calendula plants, it is recommended to conduct a soil test to determine the nutrient levels and pH of the soil. This will help you tailor the fertilizer application based on the specific nutritional needs of the plants.

  2. Choosing the Fertilizer: Calendula generally requires a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Look for fertilizers with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14. Alternatively, you can opt for organic fertilizers such as compost, well-rotted manure, or fish emulsion.

  3. Applying the Fertilizer: Apply the fertilizer to calendula plants when they are actively growing, usually in early spring or after the seedlings have been transplanted. Follow the package instructions for application rates. If using granular fertilizer, broadcast it evenly around the base of the plants, taking care not to let it come into direct contact with the stems. Water the plants thoroughly after fertilization to help the nutrients penetrate the soil.

  4. Additional Nutrient Boost: If your soil test reveals any nutrient deficiencies, you can apply specific fertilizers to address those deficiencies. For example, if the soil lacks phosphorus, use a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content (e.g., 5-10-10) to encourage healthy root development and flowering.

  5. Avoid Overfertilization: Calendula plants do not tolerate excessive fertilizer applications, which can lead to lush foliage growth at the expense of flower production. Avoid applying too much fertilizer or using heavy doses of nitrogen, as it can make the plants prone to diseases and result in weak stems.

Planting calendula can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for gardeners of all skill levels. By starting from seeds or seedlings, providing optimal conditions, and properly caring for the plants, you can enjoy a beautiful display of vibrant calendula flowers in your garden or containers.

Remember to choose high-quality seeds, prepare the soil adequately, and ensure that the plants receive appropriate sunlight, water, and nutrients. Regular maintenance tasks like deadheading, pruning, and pest management will help keep your calendula plants healthy and blooming throughout the growing season.

With their cheerful flowers, fragrant aroma, and medicinal properties, calendula plants are a valuable addition to any garden. So go ahead and plant some calendula, and enjoy the beauty and benefits they bring to your outdoor space.

Choosing The Right Location

Calendula, scientifically known as Calendula officinalis, is a beautiful and versatile plant that belongs to the daisy family. Known for its vibrant orange and yellow flowers, calendula is not only a delight to the eyes but also offers a range of medicinal and culinary uses.

When it comes to planting calendula, it is relatively easy to grow and requires minimal maintenance.

Before planting calendula, it is essential to choose the right location for optimum growth. Calendula thrives in full sun but can tolerate some shade. Therefore, select a spot in your garden that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.

Moreover, the soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter. Calendula prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. Conduct a soil test to determine the pH level and make amendments accordingly. Adding compost or well-rotted manure to the soil prior to planting will enhance its fertility and improve drainage.

Starting From Seeds

Calendula can be grown from seeds, which is the most common method of propagation. This method allows you to have control over the entire growth process, from germination to harvesting.

  1. Germination: Start by filling a seed tray or small pots with a good quality potting mix. Place the seeds lightly on the surface and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Moisten the soil with a gentle spray of water and keep it consistently moist throughout the germination process. The ideal temperature for germination is around 60-70°F (15-20°C).

  2. Thinning: After the seedlings have sprouted, thin them out by removing weaker ones, leaving the strongest seedlings in each pot or tray. This will allow the remaining seedlings to have enough space and resources to grow successfully.

  3. Transplanting: When the seedlings possess 2-3 sets of true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into the garden. Ensure that the danger of frost has passed before moving them outdoors. Dig small holes in the prepared garden bed, spacing them about 12-18 inches apart. Carefully remove the seedlings from their pots, taking care not to damage the roots, and place them in the holes. Gently firm the soil around the base of the seedlings and water them well.

  4. Watering: Calendula requires regular watering to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Watering deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather conditions, will be sufficient. Avoid getting the foliage wet, as it can lead to diseases.

Caring For Calendula Plants

Calendula is a relatively low-maintenance plant, but it still requires some care and attention to ensure healthy growth and beautiful blooms.

  1. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants will help retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and maintain a consistent soil temperature. Use materials such as straw, wood chips, or shredded leaves for effective mulching.

  2. Fertilizing: Although calendula is not a heavy feeder, providing it with some additional nutrients can promote vigorous growth and abundant flowering. Apply a balanced organic fertilizer, following the package instructions, once a month during the growing season.

  3. Deadheading: To encourage continuous blooming, deadhead the faded flowers regularly. This process involves removing the spent flowers before they have a chance to set seed. Pinch or cut the stem just above a set of healthy leaves or side shoots.

  4. Staking: While calendula generally doesn’t require staking, taller varieties may benefit from some support. Insert a stake near the base of the plant and gently tie the stem to it with garden twine. This will prevent the plant from toppling over during heavy winds or excessive rain.

  5. Weeding: Regularly remove weeds from around your calendula plants to prevent them from competing for nutrients and water. Frequent weeding also reduces the risk of pests and diseases.

Controlling Pests And Diseases In Calendula

Although calendula is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, it can still fall victim to certain issues. By taking preventive measures and implementing proper care techniques, you can keep your calendula plants healthy and pest-free.

  1. Aphids: These tiny, soft-bodied insects tend to cluster on the undersides of leaves and extract sap from the plant. To control aphids, you can use a strong blast of water to dislodge them or apply insecticidal soap as per the package instructions. Introducing ladybugs, lacewings, or other natural predators can also help control aphid populations.

  2. Slugs and Snails: These slimy pests can cause significant damage to the leaves and flowers of calendula. To deter slugs and snails, you can create barriers using copper strips or crushed eggshells around the plants and remove any hiding spots such as rocks or debris.

  3. Powdery Mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease characterized by a white, powdery coating on the leaves, stems, and buds. It thrives in humid conditions and can hinder the growth and aesthetics of calendula. To prevent powdery mildew, water the plant at its base rather than overhead and ensure adequate spacing between plants for good air circulation. Fungicidal sprays containing sulfur or neem oil can help control the disease if it occurs.

  4. Leaf Spot: Leaf spot appears as small, dark spots on the leaves, eventually leading to yellowing and defoliation. Proper sanitation, such as removing and destroying infected leaves, can help prevent its spread. Avoid overhead watering, as moisture on the leaves creates favorable conditions for leaf spot development.

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How To Harvest And Preserve Calendula

Harvesting calendula flowers at the right time ensures maximum potency and prolongs the blooming season. Follow these steps to harvest and preserve your calendula:

  1. Choosing the Best Time: Harvest calendula flowers when they are fully open, preferably in the morning after the dew has dried. The petals should be vibrant and show no signs of wilting or discoloration.

  2. Gently Harvesting: Grasp the base of the flower and use a pair of clean, sharp scissors or pruners to cut the stem about 1 inch above a set of healthy leaves. Avoid pulling the petals off the flower head, as this can damage the plant.

  3. Drying the Flowers: Once harvested, spread the calendula flowers in a single layer on a clean screen or drying rack. Place them in a dry, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Allow the flowers to dry completely for one to two weeks or until they become brittle to the touch.

  4. Storage Options: Store dry calendula flowers in airtight containers, such as glass jars or resealable bags, in a cool, dark place. To retain the vibrant color and potency, keep the containers away from heat, light, and moisture.

Creative Uses For Calendula In Your Garden

In addition to its ornamental value, calendula serves various creative and functional purposes in the garden. Here are a few ideas to incorporate calendula into your garden design:

  1. Companion Planting: Calendula attracts beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies that help pollinate other plants in your garden. Planting calendula near vegetable crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and beans can enhance pollination and potentially increase yields.

  2. Edible Flowers: Calendula flowers have a slightly tangy, peppery flavor that adds a vibrant splash of color and taste to salads, soups, and other culinary creations. Use the petals fresh or dried to garnish and elevate your dishes.

  3. Natural Dye: Calendula petals can be used to create natural dyes for fabrics and fibers. Boil a handful of petals in water and add the fabric to be dyed. Experiment with different flower-to-fabric ratios and dye times to achieve different shades.

  4. Infused Oils and Salves: Calendula flowers are known for their skin-soothing properties. Harvest the fresh flowers and infuse them in a carrier oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil, to create a healing and moisturizing oil that can be used in skincare products or as a standalone remedy for dry or irritated skin.

Troubleshooting Common Calendula Growing Issues

  1. No Flowers: If your calendula plants are not producing flowers, it could be due to insufficient sunlight. Ensure that they are receiving at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Over-fertilization with nitrogen-rich fertilizers can also inhibit flowering, so avoid excessive use of nitrogen in the soil.

  2. Stunted Growth: Stunted growth in calendula can result from overcrowding or poor soil quality. Make sure to provide adequate spacing between plants and maintain well-drained, fertile soil. Address any potential nutrient deficiencies by incorporating organic matter or applying a balanced fertilizer.

  3. Leggy Plants: Leggy, elongated growth in calendula can occur when they do not receive enough sunlight. This causes the plants to stretch in search of light. To prevent legginess, ensure sufficient sunlight and consider pruning back the plants to promote branching and compact growth.

  4. Wilting and Yellowing Leaves: Overwatering or poorly draining soil can lead to wilting and yellowing leaves in calendula plants. Check the moisture level of the soil before watering and ensure proper drainage. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly to maintain a moist but not waterlogged growing environment.

Conclusion

With its eye-catching flowers and multiple uses, calendula is a versatile plant that can bring beauty and functionality to your garden. By choosing the right location, starting from seeds, and providing proper care, you can enjoy the vibrant blooms of calendula throughout the growing season. Remember to control pests and diseases, harvest and preserve the flowers correctly, and explore creative ways to incorporate calendula into your garden. With these guidelines, your calendula plants are sure to thrive and enhance your gardening experience.

FAQS

What Is The Best Soil For Growing Calendula?

Calendula prefers well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter, such as compost or peat moss. It can also tolerate a range of soil types, but avoid heavy clay soils.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Calendula?

Calendula seeds can be sown directly outdoors in the spring after the last frost date. They can also be started indoors about 6-8 weeks before the desired planting time.

How Deep Should I Plant The Seeds?

Calendula seeds should be planted about 1/4 inch deep in the soil. Avoid planting them too deeply as this can hinder germination.

How Much Sunlight Does Calendula Need?

Calendula plants prefer full sun to partial shade. They will tolerate some shade, but may not produce as many flowers.

How Often Should I Water My Calendula Plants?

Calendula plants should be watered regularly, about once or twice a week depending on weather conditions. It is important to keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Be sure to water at the base of the plant to avoid getting the foliage wet, which can increase the risk of disease.