Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 144 Calendula officinalis

Common Names: calendula, pot marigold, English marigold Family: Asteraceae (aster/daisy Family)
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Calendulas bloom within 6 or 7 weeks in a wide variety of sunny colors.


The calendula is a long time favorite among gardeners. Also called English marigold, this plant has been grown since the Middle Ages and was known to Shakespeare. Calendula is an annual flower that prefers cool growing weather but nevertheless are tender and killed by frosts. Depending on variety and culture, the plants grow 12-30 in (30.5-76.2 cm) in height and about as wide. The leaves are bright green and typically about 4 in (10.2 cm) long. The lower leaves are oval with a rounded tip (spatulate) and upper leaves are lance shaped with pointed tips.

The flowers are typically 2-3 in (5.1-7.6 cm) in diameter and held on thick sturdy stems. Calendulas are single or double flowered and come in a range of colors from cream to light yellow to electric yellow to orange. Some have dark brown centers and all are beautiful.


Calendula officinalis, the pot marigold, is native to Southern Europe around the Mediterranean Sea.


Calendula officinalis is easy to grow in average soil and is bothered by few pests or cultural problems providing the soil is well-drained. Cut back plants when hot weather arrives. If you can keep them alive through the heat of summer they'll recover and bloom again in fall. Light: Sun to partial shade. Provide afternoon shade in warm climates to extend the season. Moisture: Average. Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 - 10. Spring and summer annual in cold winter climates; cool weather annual in sub-tropical and temperate zones. Killed by temperature extremes. Propagation: Plant seed after danger of frost is past. Start plants indoors in colder zones. Calendula plants are widely available at garden centers but they are so quick and easy to germinate you should save your money and sow seeds instead.


Cheerful and bright, use calendula alone or in combination with other flowering annuals and perennials in beds, borders or containers. Plant liberally in the vegetable garden to deter pests. They are good for companion planting because of the insect repelling properties. Calendula is prolific and durable and so are perfect candidates for cutting and flower arrangements.

Another common name for the calendula is pot marigold because the florets (outer petals of the flower) are used in cooking as both a flavoring and coloring agent in soups, stews, cheeses, and margarine.

Calendula has been used medicinally for centuries and still finds use in this regard. Creams and ointments containing calendula are used to soothe skin and sprained muscles. The florets and extracts prepared from them are incorporated into soothing teas, lotions, and other formulations. Other preparations are used for antisepsis, spring tonics, chapped skin, tooth aches, and insect repellent among others.

Planting calendula seed is a fun and inexpensive way to add lots of color quickly and easily.


Calendula is a fun and fast growing annual that is easy to germinate and simple to care for. It is a satisfying choice for kids and beginning gardeners that quickly rewards and motivates with fast and generous crops of showy flowers. The genus name originated from the Latin calendae which means "first day of the month" which was the day proclamations were made and interest on loans collected. Some say calendula received this name because it blooms every month of the calendar year. Others say it's because it blooms once each month on the full moon or maybe it's the new moon...

Jack Scheper 6/7/97; updated 6/16/04

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Calendula species profiled on Floridata:

Calendula officinalis

( calendula, pot marigold, English marigold )

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