We are often told to pinch out the growth tips of certain plants to encourage bushier growth, this is most certainly true for flowers like sweet peas but should you pinch out calendula? let’s have a look and find out.
Should I Pinch Out Calendula?
You can pinch out the main growing stem (terminal bud) to promote bushier growth. You can do this once the plant is established and about 10cm tall.
You can also trim back large Calendula to keep it more compact in the middle of the summer. Do this with some scissors or secateurs and just cut back to above a leaf and keep your plant bushier and compact.
You should also regularly deadhead calendula throughout its flowering period, this will encourage new growth and also stop the plant from going to seed.
Calendulas are prolific self-seeders and will happily self-sow in place, if you want this to happen then let a few flowers go to seed in the autumn. If this is something you would rather avoid then make sure you thoroughly deadhead all of the spent flowers.
If you deadhead regularly then your Calendula can flower all summer and well into autumn. Find out more by reading my When Does Calendula Flower Article.
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.
Plant calendula in spring once the risk of frost has passed or alternatively it can be sown in autumn for an early display next year. You can find out more about when to plant calendula here.
How to tell Calendulas and French Marigolds apart
There are a few easy ways to differentiate between the two plants.
The more common marigold is grown as an attractive flower and is not usually considered edible, although some varieties are. This is a whole other topic which is hotly debated and I’m not going to get into it here, for the sake of simplicity I will say they are not edible.
They are grown for their flowers and also as a pest preventive. Marigolds are commonly used in companion planting as they are believed to deter certain pests.
Calendula and Marigolds are from the same family of plants (Asteraceae) but are from different genera. French marigolds are from the Tagetes genus whilst pot marigolds are from the Calendula genus.
They have both been simply referred to as marigolds in the past but now pot marigold is the common name for calendula. To avoid any confusion though I think it is simply best to refer to them as calendula.