Sunday, January 11, 2015

There Are Marigolds and Then There Are Pot Marigolds

These are not your grandma's marigolds. But wait, she probably grew these too! While I love the traditional marigolds and have never had a single year of gardening that didn't include them of one sort or another, there's another "marigold" that I adore even more. The pot marigold.

Calendula officinalis 'Flashback'

Calendula is commonly known as "pot marigold," and while it's classified as a short-lived perennial and sometimes a hardy annual, in my Zone 5b it's definitely an annual. I've never had a single plant survive winter here. They're pretty good at self-seeding though, so there's that.

Photo by H. Zell
And speaking of their seeds, those look like dried up worms to me. Each flower head has an abundance of the short curved seeds, so there will always be plenty for next year. I've not caught any birds eating them, but I don't know why they wouldn't.

Calendulas are one of the edible flowers, giving salads color, and wereoften used as a saffron substitute and in soups and stews, which probably contributed to them being known as "pot marigolds." Calendula has also been used to provide color to some cheeses and can be used as a fabric dye.

Some pharmacological studies have suggested that Calendula has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, you'll find it as a common ingredient in products used to treat certain skin conditions.

Calendula is also a host plant for several species of moths, meaning you might find caterpillars on the foliage at some point. I've never found them to do much damage in my garden though.

There are several Calendula cultivars available to be grown by seed, including the one I grew last summer - 'Flashback' from Renee's Garden Seeds - as well as the straight species. Some of those include:

Lemon Cream™
'Pacific Beauty'
'Deja Vu'
'Triangle Flashback'
'Orange King'
'Pink Surprise'
'Geisha Girl'
'Ball's Improved Orange'
'Golden Emperor'
'Fiesta Gitana'
'Tangerine Cream'
'Bronzed Beauty'
'Solar Flashback'
'Candyman Orange Dwarf'
'Mandarin Twist'
'Gold Star'
'Bon Bon'
'Strawberry Blonde'
'Indian Prince'
'Orange Porcupine'

You can buy seeds online from these sources:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Burpee Seeds
Renee's Garden Seeds
Botanical Interests
Johnny's Selected Seeds
Eden Brothers
Swallowtail Garden Seeds

I promise this isn't an Osteospermum, even though it strongly resembles it.

Calendula officinalis 'Flashback'


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Just seeing these photos makes me want to start planting...just as soon as the ground thaws. :)

Kylee Baumle said...

Lisa ~ I know, right? I'm hoping the next couple of months pass by VERY quickly!

Erin @ The Impatient Gardener said...

I just ordered some calendula seeds from Eden Brothers (jumped right into my cart). We sell them at our master gardener's plant sale every year and I always admire them but I've never grown them. I'm mostly interested in them for their medicinal properties. Do you know if, like other modern marigolds, they ward off bunnies?

RobinL said...

Now I have a strong urge to go visit my favorite garden center with the large seed display. Only last year, I kept visiting long before they HAD their seeds, in my impatience!

Lona said...

Every year I wonder if I should try growing some from seed.Then I never do for some reason. Your posting makes made my mind up to try them this year and to stop messing around. LOL! I hope the weather has not got you snowed in again. Winter is in full swing now here in the Buckeye state.

Leslie said...

I bought a couple of 6-packs of calendula probably 10 years ago for my Wyoming garden. They were a wonderful addition of color. Plus they have reseeded every summer since that initial planting. There are fewer and fewer plants but they reliably self seed. This summer (July?) I'll buy some more and start the cycle again. Is the oil contained in the seed? Maybe that's why the birds don't eat them.

Kylee Baumle said...

Erin ~ They aren't actually marigolds, and as such, have different properties. I've not seen anything anywhere that says they ward off bunnies and they don't smell like Tagetes spp., so I'm going to guess they don't.

RobinL ~ I completely understand that, Robin!

Lona ~ You'd better do it this year, Lona! Yep, winter has arrived, for sure! I'll bet it's just gorgeous down there where you are. I've always wanted to go to Hocking Hills in winter.

Leslie ~ That's a good question! From what I've read, the petals are what's used for its herbal and medicinal properties. Maybe the birds DO eat them and I just haven't caught them doing it. But I don't think so, because when I save the seed, the seedheads are always nice and full with no missing seeds. I'll bet there's a reason though. Maybe they just don't taste good!

EL Team said...

Indeed, just the sight of these pot marigolds, you can definitely say it is a must-try! They will surely bring colour and character to the garden. Thank you for this new discovery!

BHSullivan said...

Gorgeous flower! Thanks for sharing! Have you played with the new flower identification app LikeThat Garden? I think you'd love it!

Kylee Baumle said...

EL Team ~ My pleasure!

BHSullivan ~ No, I haven't, because it's not available for Android.

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