Calendula is a member of the genus that consists of about 20 species, belonging to the family Asteraceae. The common name of Calendula is pot marigold. Calendula flowers are often confused with the marigolds you often see in the garden which are actually members of genus Tagetes. Genus Tagetes belongs to the same family as Calendula, that is, Asteraceae. Calendulas are native to Western Europe, southwestern Asia, Macaronesia, and the Mediterranean region.
The word Calendula is derived from a Latin word calendae which means ‘little calendar,’ referring to the long blooming season. These brightly colored, yellow and orange flowers bloom about every month of the year.
Calendulas have been used for medicinal and culinary purposes since ancient times. Almost all parts of this plant are used for one purpose or the other. Calendulas are very popular garden plants due to their brightly colored flowers. Other than their medicinal and culinary uses, Calendulas are used for ornamental purposes as well, because you just can’t help but be in awe by their strikingly beautiful colors.
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Types of Calendula Flowers
Calendulas belong to a genus of flowering plants that contain only about 20 species. Among these 20 species, not all are popular. Different types of Calendula flowers are found all over the world. Some of the most popular types of Calendulas have been listed down for you.
Calendula officinalis (Pot Marigold)
Calendula officinalis is the most widely known specie of Calendula. Common names of Calendula officinalis are common marigold, pot marigold, Scotch marigold, and ruddles. It is native to southern Europe.
It is an herbaceous perennial that has a short life and can grow to a height of about 80 cm. The stems of Calendula officinalis are either erect or branched. The leaves of pot marigold are oblong-lanceolate, about 2 to 7 inches long. They have hair on both the upper and inner surfaces. The leaves also have margins running along the entire length of the leaves.
The flowers are present in clusters of yellow flowers. The inflorescence has a flower-head (capitulum) with a diameter of 4 to 7cm, which is surrounded by two rows of hairy bracts. Wild plants have a single ray of florets that surround the disc florets in the center. The disc florets are darker in color.
Calendula officinalis require a moderately fertile soil that is well-drained. They also need full sun exposure for optimum growth. They prefer growing in areas that receive full sun during most of the day, with some afternoon shade. Calendula officinalis is found growing in warmer areas. The seeds of these types of calendulas are sown after the last frost has passed because they cannot tolerate cold temperatures.
To promote flower growth, spent flowers should deadhead. Because of their bright yellow-orange color, they make stunning flower beds and garden borders.
Numerous varieties of Calendula officinalis are found. Growth requirements, habit, foliage, and other features of all varieties of Calendula officinalis are similar. The flowers form the basis of differentiation.
Radio Extra Calendula is a long plant that has blooms like a cactus. The blooms are bright orange in color. Radio Extra is one of the most unusual types of Calendula.
Pink Surprise Calendula has ruffled flowers that are gold and yellow in color. They have pink edges and dark apricot colored centers. Some of the blooms can be truly pink having gold highlights.
Touch of Red
The blooms of this variety are a mixture of red and orange. Petals are red-tipped with undersides red mahogany.
Bronzed Beauty has copper-peach and cream-colored flowers that grow on tall stems.
The blooms of Tangerine Cream are bi-colored. They are cream and bright orange in color.
Greenheart Orange is a variety that is quite different from typical cultivars of Calendula. They have orange colored petals that surround centers that are lime-green in color.
Neon variety has double flowers which can be found in many bright colors.
The Citrus Cocktail plants are compact and very small. Their flowers are yellow and orange in color.
The blooms are brightly colored having black centers.
Sherbet Frizz has buff-colored flowers, having deep red undersides. The petals are red-tipped.
Dwarf Gem is a compact plant that has double blooms that are yellow, orange, and apricot colored.
Fruit Twist has single, double, and semi-double flowers that are found in different shades of orange and yellow.
Prince Calendula is a tall plant that is heat tolerant. It has yellow and orange colored blooms.
Bonbon is early-blooming plants. They have small blooms that are yellow and orange in color. they are a type of dwarf calendulas.
Pacific beauty Calendula is a heat tolerant plant with yellow and orange blooms on sturdy and tall stems.
Calypso variety has double blooms that grow on compact, dense plants. Their flowers are orange and yellow in color with dark centers. They are ideal varieties for containers.
Flashback Calendula has flowers that are a blend of colors. They can be bi-colored or tri-colored, in shades of cream, yellow, peach, and apricot.
These are mild-resistant varieties with orange and yellow colored blooms, having tufted centers.
Calendula arvensis (Field Marigold)
The common name of Calendula arvensis is Field Marigold. It is native to Southern and Central Europe and is also found growing all over the world as an introduced species.
It is an annual or a biennial herb that grows to a height of about 50cm. the leaves of field marigold are lance-shaped. They are borne of petioles that emerge from hairy and slender stems. The inflorescence consists of a single flower-head that is about 4cm wide. The inflorescence has a bright yellow-orange floret ray around yellow colored disc florets. The fruits of field marigold are achene that may be any shape, including ring-shaped.
Calendula arvensis are adaptable and low-maintenance plants. They perform well in a poor to average fertile, well-drained soil. They need occasional watering. They grow well in full sun or even shady areas. They prefer cool temperatures and therefore survive well in shady areas. Occasional deadheading can promote blooming from spring season through fall.
They can be grown in containers, or make beautiful flowerbeds.
Calendula maritima (Sea Marigold)
Calendula maritima is more commonly known as the Sea Marigold or the trailing marigold. Calendula maritima is a very rare specie that has been declared endangered. It is only found in the Sicilian coast (only 5 small cities in East Sicily).
Calendula maritima is a perennial plant. It grows to a height of 20 to 40cm. the leaves have short sticky hair on the surface. The leaves have a fleshy texture and have quite a strong smell. The leaves can be linear or egg-shaped. The stems are lignified on the underparts. The stems are erect when they are young but as the plant grows, the stems start hanging and spread on the ground. The blossoms are basket-shaped. The flowers are pale to bright yellow in color. The diameter of the blossoms is 3 to 5cm. they flower from May to June.
Calendula maritima are low maintenance plants. They can grow in moderately fertile soil. They need light watering regularly. they can grow in acidic, basic, or neutral soil pH. They perform well in both sun and part shade areas.
The common name of Calendula palestina is Palestine Marigold. They are annual plants that can grow to a height of 40cm. The leaves are 2.5 to 10cm long and can be as wide as 20mm. the leaves are flat, rough, and hairy, with wavy and toothed margins. The tips of the leaves are pointed. The flower-heads of Palestine Marigold have yellow petals and centers.
Planting Calendulas in your garden is a great way of transforming your garden into a breathtaking sight. Growing Calendulas from seeds is not a very challenging task. There are two ways of planting Calendulas; by seeds or seedlings. Seeds can be sowed in indoor pots about 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. If you are planning to plant seedlings, they should be planted only after the last frost has passed. Seeds can tolerate cold temperatures but seedlings cannot. Seeds germinate in 5 to 15 days, depending upon the conditions provided.
Calendulas prefer areas where there is full sun. However, they perform well in areas with part shade as well. They require fertile soil for best growth. It is recommended that you treat the soil with compost or manure before planting Calendulas so that proper nourishment of the plant is ensured. The soil should be well-drained. If the soil is too wet, the roots of Calendula plants will rot and the plant would wither. Therefore, only occasional watering should be done.
Taking Care of Calendula
Lie we have mentioned earlier, Calendulas are low-maintenance plants but they need care for best growth results. If you are planning to grow Calendula in your garden, there are certain things that should be taken care of.
- Look for an area where the plants would receive full sun. If the temperatures are too hot, the plants may benefit from part shade but if grown in shady areas, the Calendula plants would become leggy.
- If you want to promote growth, you should add 2 to 4 inches of compost in the soil before planting the seeds or the seedlings. Although Calendulas do not require fertilizer, if you incorporate all-purpose fertilizer to the soil, it would greatly improve the growth and floweringability of the plant.
- If the weather is consistently hot, watering Calendulas once a week will keep them fresh and the blooms coming throughout the summer season.
- If you observe any weed growing near Calendulas, pull them out. Adding mulch to the soil would help keep weed away.
- Removing spent flowers regularly would encourage the growth of more flowers.
- Calendula plants are not invasive but they seed quite fast. If deadheading is not done regularly, the plant may become weedy. Therefore, they should be deadheaded regularly.
- If you want a bushier form of Calendula plants, pinching back young Calendulas can help you achieve it.
- Calendulas do not suffer from pests but regular inspection of the underside of leaves should be done to make sure the plant is not infested by aphids or whiteflies.
- Calendulas may get powdery mildew. Theretofore, you should keep an eye for fungal infection which is characterized by white patches. If you do notice it, removing the affected plant parts like leaves will help control the fungal infection.
Uses of Calendulas
Calendula flowers have been used for medicinal, culinary, and ornamental purposes since ancient times.
Medicinal Uses of Calendula
Calendula flowers have been used as a medicinal herb since a very long time. They have many health benefits. These flowers are one of the strongest antiviral herbs and also serve as powerful antioxidants. Moreover, they have anti-inflammatory properties as well.
They are rich in natural compounds that help in the healing of injured skin. They are abundant in antioxidants that heal rashes and burns by increasing the flow of blood to the affected areas. Calendulas are very effective n wound healing as well. Calendula is a component in many creams and ointments for diaper rash, and in also in many first-aid creams and skincare lotions.
Calendula oil is also beneficial for a number of skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema. It can help in protecting the skin from UV rays from the sun. it is an ingredient of many sunscreens. Calendulas are specifically beneficial for the skin.
Culinary Uses of Calendula
Calendula has many culinary uses. Calendulas have edible flowers. Calendula petals have a peppery, tangy taste that can bring zing to different recipes like salads. It can also brighten up the appearance of green salads. It can improve the color of egg yolks and cheeses. It can be added to cream cheese or soups to enhance the color and add a peppery flavor to food.
Calendula flowers are a great substitute for saffron and are often considered as a poor man’s saffron. They can bring about almost the same color you would achieve with saffron. Moreover, Calendula flowers can be added to pickles, tarts, soft cheeses, and fritters.
Ornamental Uses of Calendula
Calendula flowers are bright in color. They are extremely attractive and beautiful. This is the reason they make popular ornamental varieties. They can be planted in containers for indoor decorations. They make stunning garden borders and flower beds. An addition of Calendulas in your garden can make your garden look a lot more beautiful instantly.
You may mistake the usual garden Marigolds as Calendulas primarily due to the similarity between their colors. However, Calendulas are not that common or widespread. Out of all the species, only a few are well-known and commonly found. They have been popular since ancient times, majorly because all their parts are edible and have a use or two and, of course, because of the brightly colored flowers!