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Calendula is an annual herbaceous plant native to southern Europe. It consists of dense tufts of elongated leaves, of an intense green color, covered by a thick greyish fluff, soft and tender to the touch; the tufts are 20-30 cm high. From late spring to summer it produces numerous yellow or orange daisy flowers; there are many cultivars with double and double flowers. The marigold flowers delicately perfume of lemon, and are edible: they are eaten raw in salads, or they are used dried for herbal teas, they have an intense and spicy taste. These annual plants tend to autoseminarsi with great ease, so once planted you can have a flower bed of marigolds every year.
Calendula is an extremely easy to grow annual: it grows quickly from seed and has a very long flowering season. Its orange corollas are ideal to be inserted in flower beds, vases or borders and give a touch of joy and liveliness to our garden. There are so many varieties available: we can find different types of corollas, shades and sizes.

Origins of the Calendula

Calendula is an Asteracea endemic to southern Europe and northern Africa. The genus is composed of about 15 species. In our country we can find two in the spontaneous state: the Calendula arvensis (with a prostrate habit, recognizable in the fields for its sulfur-colored petals) and the Calendula officinalis. The latter has been known since the dawn of time for its medicinal virtues and for this reason its selection and cultivation began already in antiquity: it was one of the most widespread essences in the botanical gardens of the monasteries. However, they also obtained varieties of interest for their ornamental qualities.


Generally the marigolds they are satisfied with the rain, enduring short periods of drought without problems; for an abundant flowering it is however good to regularly water the plant, from April to August, above all if long periods without precipitations occur. Every 10-15 days it is good to supply fertilizer for flowering plants, mixed with the water used for watering. But beware of water stagnations! It is necessary to avoid that the soil of the plant is too wet: in this case the calendula could show difficulties in growth. When the flowering period occurs instead, the irrigations must be more abundant.
To grow and bloom continuously, the calendula needs an always fresh substrate. We will therefore have to irrigate quite frequently, especially in the absence of rain and the arrival of summer. To reduce our interventions it may be useful to prepare a good mulch based on the base of the plants.
However, the soil must not always be soggy: a prolonged contact of low leaves with humidity can favor the onset of powdery mildew. Let's make sure the surface is dry after a couple of hours.

Description of the Calendula

The Calendula officinalis is characterized by alternate opaque leaves up to 15 cm long and by an enlarged bushy habit. The development, in fact, takes place on a single stem only rarely (in the cultivars selected for the production of cut flowers). Otherwise it grows more in width than in height and is therefore very suitable for the first floor of the borders, the flower beds, the rock gardens or the containers, even of small dimensions.
The large corollas have the typical daisy shape of the Asteraceae, simple or double. They open in the morning around nine o'clock (from which their name calendula comes, that is, flower of every day, with the same root of "calendar") and they close on the arrival of evening. They are declined in shades of orange and yellow and, more rarely, white.


Calendula plants should be placed in full sun or partial shade as they adore the sun's rays; in general, these small plants are planted in late spring, particularly in the month of April, as they fear the cold and late frosts. They can also be grown in containers, on the terrace of the house or on the windowsill.
The cultivation of calendula is rather easy and even the less expert in gardening, can cultivate it with simplicity and also take advantage of its many properties as a medicinal plant. The ideal location is full sun in almost the entire peninsula; only in the extreme south is a location a little more sheltered during the afternoon hours. What is really indispensable is to choose an open location, where there is good air circulation: in spring and autumn, in fact, calendula is an easy prey for oidium which, over time, can spread throughout the garden.
To avoid the onset a good ventilation is very important as well as avoiding irrigation from above, wetting the leaves. We choose, if possible, an illuminated location from the early hours of the morning: in this way the leaves will dry quickly countering the establishment of spores of this cryptogam.

Family, genus, species Asteraceae, gen. Calendula officinalis
Type of plant Annual herbaceous, flowery and medicinal
Height From 20 to 60 cm
Spacing 10-30 depending on the variety
Maintenance simple
Growth rapid
Irrigation average
Ground Indifferent, preferably fresh
Rusticitа Rustic enough (up to 0 ° C)
Exposure Full sun, slight shade in the afternoon; well ventilated area
Composting Frequent, abundant potassium
Use Flower beds, borders, rock garden, vegetable garden, vase
Propagation sowing
Avversitа Oidium, aphids


These plants prefer rich, loose and light soils, very well drained; although they can develop in any type of terrain, even stony. The marigolds can also be grown in a container, using fairly spacious bowls, to allow the plants to develop without problems.
Calendula is an undemanding plant from this point of view. It adapts to almost all soils, even poor ones. The ideal is to work the area well in advance by incorporating a good quantity of organic matter: this will help us, especially during the summer months, to keep the substratum fresh, without resorting to frequent irrigation.

Why introduce marigold into our garden?

Calendula is a plant with multiple virtues. In addition to the undoubted ornamental qualities it can be useful both in the kitchen and as a medicinal herb. The whole plant is edible: leaves and petals can be inserted into salads, omelettes or other preparations. From the flowers you can draw a natural dye very useful for embellishing ice creams, sorbets and sweets. It also has a great herbal interest due to its antiviral, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.


The reproduction of calendula generally occurs by seed; it is possible to sow marigolds in a seedbed, in a warm bed in January-February; or they can be sown directly at home, in autumn or in March-April.


Plant sowing

October (Center-South), March-April (North)
Sowing in seedbed February March
Transplant February (South) -April (North)
Flowering From April to October (depending on climate and varieties)
Composting Every 3 months (granular), every week (liquid)
Plant cleaning weekly

Pests and diseases

Generally these herbaceous plants are not affected by pests or diseases and in rare cases. When this happens, the main problems are due to the attack of small insects or lice. To solve the problem it will be enough to apply specific aficido products. A further problem could be caused by the development of fungi capable of creating a white patina on the leaves of our marigolds. The consequence is the yellowing of the same and their final fall. Only if taken on time this disease can be cured and the plant can resume its development without too many problems. Otherwise, if the white disease is already at an advanced stage, there will be nothing left for the plant to do.
This annual is frequently a victim of powdery mildew: to prevent it we choose well-ventilated positions and avoid, during irrigation, to wet the leaves. If we note the presence of white mold on the leaves, in limited quantities, we eliminate all the affected parts. If the problem persists, we use specific, curative and eradicating products.
Another common parasite is aphids: in cases of severe infestation we spray with pyrethrin-based products, possibly in the evening (exposed to light and heat they quickly degrade losing effectiveness).

Calendula fertilization

The use of fertilizers is not strictly necessary, but, given the long flowering season, it can make the difference with regard to the abundance and liveliness of the corollas. Plants in the open ground can be supported with a slow release granular product in which potassium is the predominant element. Their effect generally lasts three months: approximately two administrations will be necessary, one in April and the second in July. Wanting to enhance the effect we can, from time to time, add a liquid fertilizer to the irrigation water.
The seedlings grown in pots give excellent results with water-soluble fertilizers to be added to water. Weekly administrations are recommended (but daily use is also possible, in minimal doses, in daily watering).

Grow pot marigold

Pot cultivation is very simple. We choose containers at least 20 cm deep and create a good draining layer on the bottom, based on gravel or expanded clay. The marigold grows well in substrates designed for flowering plants: we can, if desired, add some field soil and a few handfuls of manure. It will help us keep the roots fresher, especially if the cultivation takes place on balconies or terraces (which overheat very easily).
We frequently frequent, as soon as we see that the surface has completely dried; the use of saucers should be avoided, a frequent cause of rot.

How to get plants?

Calendula seedlings can be bought in specialized nurseries in the spring but sowing, the most common method of propagation, is really within everyone's reach. It is certainly worth the effort: we will save, we will have many more plants in addition to the satisfaction of having done everything ourselves.

When to sow?

In the Center-South it is possible to start already in October, sowing at home or in alveolar trays: in this way we will have the first blooms already at the end of March. In northern Italy it is possible to proceed, indoors, from mid-February, but instead it will be necessary to wait for the beginning of April: germination takes place, in fact, with minimum temperatures of 15 ° C.

How to sow?

The seeds, being very small, must be mixed with fine sand: we will avoid wasting many of them as well as giving birth to very close seedlings. After spreading the seeds on the ground, cover them with a very light layer of well sieved soil. We repeatedly vaporize, eventually covering with plastic to keep the humidity high, but airing often. Once the seedlings are ticked they can be moved to a brighter place, but not in direct light. Let's shrink them with only the most vigorous; It is also useful to repeatedly cut the seedlings (above the third leaf) to obtain well-stocked specimens with many flower stems. The transplant is carried out about 45 days after sowing or in any case not before the end of March.
At the end of spring it can be useful to sow again to replace any exhausted specimens.

Crop care

Marigolds are fairly autonomous: in addition to irrigation and fertilization they only require frequent cleaning of withered corollas. This work is important to guarantee a further topping up and a regular and abundant flowering.

Calendula: Variety

Given the popularity of this plant, horticulturists have created a large number of varieties and cultivars. The peculiar characteristics are the color and the type of corollas, the size and the posture.
It is not always easy to find pure varieties: most of the time, on the market, sachets with a mix of seeds are found.
Here are the most common:
Baby orange Small double orange flowers, from April to November, up to 70 cm high.
Calypso double orange and yellow flowers, with a black center, from May to October. Very dwarf (up to 25 cm).
chrysantha with flowers similar to those of chrysanthemums, up to 60 cm high.
Cream Beauty, lemon beauty, apricot beauty: cream, yellow or orange corollas, up to 60 cm, long flowering.
Estйrel mix with double corolla, yellow or orange. It blooms from July to October and grows up to 50 cm.
Gypsy Fiesta mix with orange and yellow flowers, from May to July. Up to 20 cm, suitable for vases, small borders and flower beds, even formal.
Indian Prince dark orange corollas, from June to October, up to 50 cm high. Beautiful also as a cut flower.
Meteor large flowers, yellow and orange. High up to 50 cm
Radio orange globose flowers with pointed petals, up to 45 cm.
Watch the video
  • Marigold plant

    Calendula is native to Europe, North Africa and South Asia; it can also be found in the areas facing up

    visit: plant calendula


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