Calendula is an annual herb with striking orange and yellow open flowers that are great for drawing beneficial predatory insects such as hoverflies as well as pollinating bees into your garden. The edible flowers and their petals look great strewn across a summer salad. Calendula plants can flower from spring right through summer and autumn until plants get halted by frost in winter. Calendula grows up to knee height depending on soil and variety.
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Sow or plant in early spring and summer countrywide.
Calendula grows well in full sun as well as partial shade.
Calendula grows well on most soils that have reasonable drainage and do not get too water-logged. If your soil is sticky then dig in coarse sand or fine pumice to help improve drainage – or plant calendula in a half-barrel, tyre stack or pot.
In early spring, sow seeds a finger-tip deep in trays or punnets filled with seed compost or directly into the garden or proposed container. Thin seedlings as they develop so that plants end up with about one or two hands’ lengths between them.
When your seedlings are about a finger’s length in height and the weather has settled and is reliably warm and sunny, plant seedlings at an average spacing of a good hand’s length to a forearm apart. I usually dot them around the vegetable garden and plant them on bed corners and at the end of rows.
Water young seedlings in dry periods. Once they are established and starting to grow you shouldn’t need to continue with watering unless weather is persistently dry and your soil dries out. Plants will wilt to let you know its time to get the watering can out.
Harvest: Picking flowers encourages more to be produced so enjoy them in displays, salads and in a cup of boiling water as a soothing tea.
As an annual, calendula will die at the onset of winter in cooler areas whereas in warmer parts of the country you can expect plants to hang about through the winter months too. Allowing calendula to flower and self-seed means you’ll be rewarded with a range of plants in all sorts of unexpected places next spring and summer. When you spot small seedlings in the spring you can simply lift them with soil around their roots and re-position them where you want them.