Calendula is an annual flower, but do calendula self seed and come back every year? Will this gorgeous orange flower continue to fill your garden with gorgeous blooms year after year from a single sowing? Well, I love to grow calendula and have done for many years so let’s have a look and find out.
Does Calendula Self Seed?
The simple answer is yes, calendula does self seed. But not only does it self seed it is actually a very prolific self-seeder and left to its own devices it will continue to come back year after year.
If you let a few of the flowers go to seed and don’t deadhead every flower in sight then you will have fresh calendula growing in place next year.
You can also harvest the seed straight from the plant when they have finished growing in autumn and then plant them straight away.
These autumn-grown calendulas can be kept over winter in a sheltered spot and then planted out again in spring. They will then flower very early in the season giving you a wonderful spring display.
How I Harvest Calendula Seeds
So we know that calendula does self-seed, but you can also harvest the seeds and sow them in autumn for an early flowering plant next year or alternatively grow them in spring to make sure you have some healthy plants next year.
To start with you need to wait until the seeds are properly ready to harvest, calendula seeds go through a few stages and they are not properly ready until they turn really brown and crusty.
Here we can see a few of those stages, we have a nice healthy flower on the left, then in the middle an older flower that has started to die back and finally on the right we have the seed pods which remain when the petals have fallen off.
Even at this stage though the calendula seeds are not ready to harvest as they are green, you need to wait until they start to turn brown.
When the seeds look like this they are ready to harvest. now you just need to pull them off the plant and store them until you want to sow them.
You want to store them in a dry and dark spot. I like to use these old coffee pots as they are free and actually work quite well, I simply write on the lid what seeds are inside and then store them on a shelf in my greenhouse.
Letting Calendula Self Seed
If you don’t want to harvest your seeds and just want to let them self seed then there are still a couple of things you can do to help them along.
The first thing to do is to stop deadheading your calendula flowers as we get later into the season. The reason for this is really straightforward but I still thought it was worth a mention.
If you deadhead all of the spent blooms then you will have no flowers left to turn to seed and therefore the plant cannot self-seed.
Shake The Seeds About
When you go to pull up your old calendula at the end of the growing season then it can be a really good idea to turn the plants upside down and give them a good shake. This just helps to make sure you scatter the seeds around the area you want to grow them.
Doing this doesn’t ensure that you will 100% get plants next year, as things can always go wrong, but by following this method I have not had at least some seedlings pop up the next year.
Hedge Your Bets
I like to hedge my bets and even if I am planning on just letting my calendula completely self-seed I will always harvest and store some seeds. This means that if my self-seeded plants never arrive next spring I can always sow some of the seeds I saved and still be able to enjoy some gorgeous calendula flowers.