Want to grow your own calendula, maybe as a cut flower or perhaps to make your own balms, but unsure of when to plant it? Then this guide to when to plant calendula is for you!
When To plant Calendula?
Calendula can be sown either in spring for flowering later that year (June to September) or alternatively, it can be sawn in late summer/early autumn for earlier flowering in May to July.
When To Plant Calendula Seeds
So when it comes to sowing calendula you have two choices, sow in the spring as you would with most other annual flowers and enjoy the blooms in summer or you can sow them in late summer/early autumn and have the plants bloom in late spring and then continue throughout the summer months.
Sowing In The Spring For Summer Blooms
When sowing in late April and throughout May you can usually direct sow calendula seeds where they are to grow. You could also grow them in pots and plant them out if the area you want to grow them in is still occupied.
Calendula are not fussy plants and are quite easy to sow, if you have grown them for a few years and seen the rate at which they can self-seed then you will be well aware of this!
If you want to direct sow calendula seeds then just broadcast sow them (scatter them about) in the area they are to grow. Then rake a little soil over the seeds and water them well, shoots will begin to poke their heads above the soil in a couple of weeks.
Sowing In Autumn For Overwintered Calendula
You can also sow calendula in September and October and overwinter them ready for a really early spring display next year.
Overwintered calendula can be in full bloom as early as May and sometimes even April depending on the weather that spring.
You can direct sow some Calendulas in Autumn and they will survive outside over winter. There are a lot of factors that go into this and not least is your location.
Where I am up in the Pennines in Northern England doesn’t really allow for this. Don’t panic though if you are in a similar location to me, just grow your calendulas in a pot and put them in a greenhouse over winter. You can then plant them out in the garden in early spring.
Another factor is the variety of Calendula grown, for the best chance of overwintering your plants grow “Indian Prince”. This is a really tough plant and is hardier than a lot of other varieties of calendula.
When To Plant Out Calendula Seedlings
If you have grown your seedlings in a protected spot then you will want to know when it is safe to plant out your young seedlings. This will depend again on whether you have spring or autumn-sown plants so let’s have a look at both.
Overwintered Calendula Seedlings
Calendula that was sown in the autumn and overwintered in a greenhouse will already be tough little plants after surviving a winter. Because of this, you don’t need to be too precious about planting them outside.
I like to get them in the ground early, to let them get really growing for late spring flowers. Because of this, I plant them out as soon as the soil is workable in spring (i.e when the soil is no longer frozen).
These tough young plants will be able to survive a few spring frosts so you don’t need to worry about them too much once the worst of the winter weather has passed.
Spring Sown Calendula Seedlings
These plants will be more delicate than overwintered seedlings and as such need a little more care. They can stand up to a frost or two but we really don’t want them to be outside in anything too severe.
I like to plant them out into the garden around the last frost date, this way even if we go get a frost or two it shouldn’t be too harsh.
For me, this is around early April but it will vary a lot depending on where you are in the country, check out this interactive map to find out your last frost date.
When They Are Ready
You also want the seedlings to be ready to plant out, as the weather won’t be the only thing out to get them. If my seedlings are still small and spindly I will continue to grow them on in the greenhouse for a few more weeks.
A small seedling ios easily destroyed by a hungry slug in one sitting, so to give them the best chance of survival I like to plant them out when they are more developed. Even if this is a little later in the season than I would like. Better late flowering calendula than eaten calendula!
These above are definitely not ready to go out into the garden just yet. So I pricked them out of their seed trays and planted them into pots to let them develop further. If you want to learn more about how to sow calendula then check out my guide.