Part of the sunflower plant family, plants within the Calendula genus provide plenty of uplifting color into any garden.
The genus itself is made up of about 20 different species of perennial and annual plants, which come from many parts of the world, including the Mediterranean, Asia, and Europe.
Calendula At A Glance
The most renowned member of the calendula species is Calendula officinalis, or the pot marigold (see also How To Grow Pot Marigolds).
These captivating flowers are grown all over the world for their warm, uplifting flowers in shades of sunshine yellow and sunset orange.
Depending on the variety you go for, the blooms may have single or double-form flowers, and each is made up of individual florets.
These flowers attract a bounty of bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and other beneficial insects into your garden, which is often why they are used for companion planting.
While they can be tender perennials in some zones, these plants are very easy to raise from seed, only adding to their popularity.
Calendula Name Origin
The genus name is Latin, derived from calendae, which translates as little weather glass, clock, or calendar.
This comes from the curious way calendulas open at a certain hour each day, and close to the same time each day, too.
You may also know the calendula as a marigold, which is an interchangeable common name with those from the Tagetes genus, of plants with very similar properties, uses, and colors.
The common name pot marigold stems from its widespread culinary use in soups and broths.
Pot Marigold Symbolism
Pot marigold flowers represent optimism, joy, happiness, and grace.
If you know anything about Latin names, you might know that any plant which has officinalis or officinale in its name has a great deal of uses.
It’s specifically a Medieval Latin term, usually referring to culinary, herbal, or medicinal properties, and when it comes to Calendula, it fits all three.
The flowers are safe to eat, and make perfect accompaniments to cocktails, syrups, jams, salads, and soups. It does have a bitter note, and its strong color can help in substituting saffron in a pinch.
In many cultures, the flowers were used historically to flavor dishes and to introduce strong color, typically in wines, dumplings, puddings, oatmeal, and stewed birds.
The plant itself has a great deal of anti-inflammatory and antiviral applications, as well as topical uses.
It can be used to treat irritation, acne, bites, burns, scratches, rashes, and to help heal wounds faster.
You may notice that calendula oil is a staple ingredient in natural cosmetics, thanks to its scent, color, regeneration properties and its use as a natural emollient.
Throughout history, calendula plants have had their place in religion, rituals, and important milestone celebrations.
It even had its uses in magical charms, where people would use it as a potion ingredient to divine the right choice between two lovers.
Calendula Growing Requirements
Calendulas may be perennial or annual herbs, depending on the species, and usually bloom in shades of yellow and orange, though you may occasionally find white-flowering varieties, too.
The vast majority of pot marigolds are hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11, though there are a couple which will withstand some cold weather, but not for long.
They flower from spring into summer, and some types will reliably bloom through the whole season if you deadhead the spent flowers regularly.
They can reach between 1 and 2 feet tall, depending on the species as well as the growing conditions.
Calendulas love full sunlight for as long as possible, but they will tolerate some shade if that’s what you have.
They need soil with good drainage, preferably with a decent amount of nutrients to promote as many flowers as possible.