All About Calendula: In the Garden
Not all flowers are easy to start from seed, yet Calendula, with its twisting pods are reliable and germinate easily. Ideal for a children’s garden, since the seeds are sizable, and easy to handle, they are an economical way to get a lot of flowers for a little money.
A packet of seeds can be sown directly in the garden or started in seed trays or pots. In less than 6 weeks, the plants will fill a flower bed with color, and with any luck, produce seeds to self sow more plants for a succession of blooms.
Sow seeds in ordinary garden soil, or in a pot. Water and place in full sun or part shade. Plants will bloom more prolifically when the soil is not amended with compost or over fertilized, which will produce lush foliage, yet fewer blossoms. Plants can reach 15 inches in height, with a multi-branching habit. Calendula are at their best when grouped together as a large clump, in a flower bed or mixed container. The bright colors are a nice complement to blue flowers such as lobelia and salvia when planted together.
Calendula are popular in kitchen gardens or meadows, because of their natural shape and easy going habit, and attract beneficial pollinators. The more popular varieties include the “Kablouna Series”, which contain a range of gold, orange and apricot flowered blossoms on powdery mildew resistant plants. Or “Pacific Beauty” mix, which is heat resistant, with long stems prized by cut flower growers. An unusual mixture is called “Flash Back” named for the flashy red or maroon backs of the petals, which are tricolored with orange, apricot, peach or cream, and yellow. At night, they fold up for the night revealing a “flashy” back side.