Some people say Calendula is a perennial while others say it is only an annual, so which is it? is Calendula a perennial? Let’s have a look and find out.
So, is it a perennial?
Calendula in the UK is what’s known as a hardy annual, it can survive some bad weather and can even survive a winter. What happens though is that plants that have been flowering all summer don’t usually have the energy to survive a UK winter.
Younger plants though can survive outdoors over winter, which leads me nicely to my next point.
Calendula can be direct sown outside in the Autumn here in the UK. Normally September is a good time to do this as you want the seeds to germinate before the soil starts getting too cold.
They will then overwinter and bloom much earlier than an annual Calendula. With this method, you can end up with early spring blooms which add some much-needed colour to your garden and also offer much-needed food for pollinators.
Calendula Officinalis (pot marigold)
Calendula is an annual herb that is edible and is commonly used in herbal remedies for all kinds of afflictions.
While being an annual it does have a strong self-seeding habit so grows almost as if it was a perennial. Plant some in a garden bed and expect them to readily self-seed and come back year after year.
They are really easy to grow and not too fussy at all. Provide them with a nice sunny spot in good, well-draining soil and they will reward you with ample bright orange blooms.
How to Grow Calendula
Calendula can be easily started from seed. Like all annual flowers (technically Calendula are a herb but they are normally grown as flowers), you want to start them early if possible to get the best summer displays.
Sow a few seeds per pot in early spring in a sheltered spot. A greenhouse or sunny windowsill is ideal.
They are good germinators and not overly fussy, just plant them under a thin layer of compost. You can use seed compost or just general purpose compost to sow Calendula.
As with most small seeds I find it better to water the soil to get it nice and moist before planting the seeds so you do not risk moving them with a deluge of water.
Once the seedlings have developed a good set of leaves I will tip them out from the pot and start separating them. The aim is to break the soil apart softly and keep as much of the root of each seedling as intact as possible.
You can then pot them on into individual pots or a couple of seedlings per pot if you are running short!
I will then grow them on in pots until all risk of frost has passed. At this time they can be planted out in the garden.
If you have grown your Calendula in a heated area, such as a heated greenhouse or inside your home then you will need to gradually acclimatise them to outside life before planting out.
Benifits of Calendula
Calendula is edible and was commonly known as poor man’s saffron. This is because they can be used to colour food dishes in much the same way as saffron is, although they do not taste like saffron. The flower petals can be added to salads for a splash of colour.
Beyond being edible calendula flowers have been used for many hundreds of years as a herbal remedy.
It has antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties and is used in all sorts of things from topical creams to lip balms.
What is Calendula’s common name?
Calendula are known as pot marigolds. Despite this, they are not marigolds but the name stems from them looking very similar to marigolds and either commonly being used in pot cooked food dishes or the fact that they grow well in pots, depending on who you ask.