Pretty Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

March 31, 2011

I love calendula flowers; they are such a lovely cheerful colour which brightens any area in which they grow. They also have fantastic skin healing properties; antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.

A poultice of the flowers can be used to help relieve stings, eczema, impetigo, burns, scalds, varicose veins, bruises, sores, boils, pulled muscles and more.

If you look at some of the skin healing creams or balms in the shops, you will see that a lot of them contain an extract of calendula.


A hardy annual with daisy-like, single or double yellow or orange flowers from June to October. Leaves are light green and aromatic.

Site: Any free draining soil, prefers a sunny position

Height and Spread: 50cm to 70cm

How to grow, harvest and use calendula

Sow seeds either in pots under cover in the autumn then plant out in late spring after the risk of frost has gone, spacing them out 30 to 45cm apart. Alternatively, sow seeds outside (or in containers) in late spring, but protect from slugs.

Dead head flowers regularly to encourage more flowers. It self-seeds readily. Pinch out growing tips if growing in a container to stop it getting too tall.

Parts used

Flower petals with white ‘heel’ removed, young tender leaves.


Pick flowers as soon as they open during the summer. Pick leaves when young and tender for use in salads.

Household/skincare uses

Dry flowers at a low temperature for use in pot pourri, bath teas, herbal tea, skincare products or culinary use. An infusion of the flower petals can be used to clear up spots and nourish the skin.


Calendula is a cheerful addition to the garden and combines well with other plants eg feverfew, fennel, dill and rosemary. The dried petals can be used to add colour to pot pourri.

The photo below is one of my favourite  herby flower combinations: rosemary and calendula.  It looks and smells great and is so simple but effective.

Culinary Uses

The fresh or dried petals can and have been used in the past as a substitute for saffron. They give a golden colour and subtle flavour to soups, custards, rice, cookies and omelettes, milk desserts and the petals can be added to salads. I’ve used the petals in a fairy cake mixture as well

The young leaves have a slightly peppery taste and can be also be added to salads.

If using fresh petals or young leaves, wash them and use immediately.

Also ensure you have correctly identifed the plant, it should be Calendula officinalis (Pot Marigold) and not Tagetes which is used in a totally different way.

I sowed my calendula seeds a couple of weeks ago and  the new shoots are just coming up. I’m trialling starting them off in pots and transplanting them later to try and give them a better chance against any slugs!

If you want to know how to make Marigold cream (and tincture) which is  good for relieving inflamed or itchy skin, you can read the Herb Society’s article here.

Alternatively, you could just stick them in a vase because they look so pretty!

Copyright 2011  Madeleine Giddens

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kanak 04.01.11 at 1:03 pm

Hi Madeleine, loved reading all the information in your article. I had never really thought about the medicinal properties or the culinary uses of this beautiful flower. I’m amazed by all these facts.

2 Nell Jean 04.02.11 at 1:13 am

I failed to plant calendula last November when it was the proper time to plant them here. Making a note now.

3 Linda 04.02.11 at 3:00 pm

Love calendula also. They keep blooming and blooming and one of the last flowers I usually have blooming in the Fall garden besides the asters and mums. I find that mine self-sow pretty easily in the garden year to year. Last year I tried to help them along and let some of the the flowers go to seed and then “planted” the seeds. we’ll see how that works because usually they just come up all over the place and I seem to be always moving them. They haven’t read the garden plan obviously! And calendula oil is one of my favorite skin oils and so easy to make. Thanks for the great post.

4 Karen 04.03.11 at 6:53 am

Great information about marigolds, thank you. I sow my seeds all along the edge of my vegetable plot every year and apart from looking amazing they are so beneficial to the insects and my veg. I collect the seeds in a paper bag at the end of summer and about April I sow them. I just use my hand fork to run small lines in the soil, sow the seeds, cover and water and away they go!
Keen to make hand cream and even some oil now.

5 Sarah 08.04.11 at 10:50 pm

Hi, I was wondering if anyone could help. I’ve recently moved into a new house and the beds are filled with what I now know as pot marigolds. They’re beautiful and I don’t want lose. I know to dead head them whilst flowering, but what do I do over the autumn and winter? Do I cut them back, dig them up or simply leave them? Can anyone help?

6 maddles 08.05.11 at 8:02 am

Hi, They will die in the autumn/winter as they are an annual plant so just pull them up when they die or leave them if you want them to self-seed on the ground there and they will come back again in the same area but to be safe it might be an idea to save and dry some seeds or buy a fresh pack to re-sow the area. They are a lovely cheerful looking plant to have around.

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