Cheerfully bright and orange, the calendula is is a favourite of gardeners everywhere. It’s easy to grow and maintain, and can even be used in cooking dishes.
Calendulas have perhaps most been most popular in British gardens, renowned for their ability to tolerate cool, shady, frosty and wet conditions. They can bloom from spring to late autumn and should you ever not want to see them in your garden, simply pick them for cooking for a saffron-like taste.
Growing in British-like conditions
Pick an area of your garden where it’s predominantly, but not totally, shady. While calendulas strongly prefer filtered sun to mostly shady conditions, they still do need a bit of sun to thrive. You may be able to get away with planting them in sunnier areas if temperatures remain on the cooler side, though.
Don’t get worried if the calendula stops blooming in the summer. It’s most likely just taking a break to save its strength from the sun and heat, and you should see its blooms returning after the higher temperatures have passed. Once the weather cools again, the calendula often keeps blooming well into autumn until frost starts arriving with regularity.
They are technically annuals, but calendulas can grow again by reseeding. It’s a pretty easygoing plant, so just let it do its own thing naturally.
Watering and maintaining
Calendulas do best when they can control the bulk of the operation. This means you don’t have to worry too much about watering it, as they do well in soil that’s poor- to well-drained. In fact, tending to the calendula too much can have a detrimental effect on its growth!
If you can’t resist taking care of it, limit yourself to just regular deadheading. This will help stimulate new growth of the blooms so it keeps blossoming late into the season. But beyond that, you really don’t have to do much to enjoy this plant.
Health and food benefits
As popular as calendulas are in gardens, they’ve also been widely used for cooking and health purposes. Their orangey flowers have been used to colour cheese and butter yellow naturally, as opposed to using dyes. While you probably don’t have to worry about that, you can still pluck the petals to add a saffrony taste to stews, salads and broths, among many other dishes.
You can also use the other part of the plant to try and stimulate your immune system. Talk to your doctor instead of pinning all health hopes on calendulas, but trying to boost health has long thought to have been one of the flower’s main selling points.
And if you’re looking for an easy and artistic way to keep aphids away from the vegetables in your garden, plant a crop of calendulas. They attract aphids and keep them away from other plants, all without harm to themselves.
The calendula is one of those rare plants that are incredibly easy to maintain, provide a long-lasting and gorgeous bloom and can grow in comparatively poor conditions. Pick up a packet of seeds and instantly add a surefire winner to your garden.