I have grown calendula flowers for years and though I knew they were good for the skin in lotions and salves, I had not used them medicinally or any other way except once in soap. They were an untapped resource.
Why I Grew Them
- They were pretty.
- The blooms lasted a long time.
- Some seeds survived the winter to grow new plants.
- The seeds were easy to collect.
- The deer left them alone. A really BIG deal since they were in the unprotected front flower bed.
“All good things!” as Olaf would say from the Disney movie, Frozen.
When I knew I needed to grow flowers to make a permaculture, I felt a prompting, ‘Grow calundelas’. I’m hoping I received the feeling for the anti-inflammation properties. I’m really struggling with my lungs and left knee. For that, I’ll try making a herbal tea out of the flowers and green base. But first I need to get through the canning. I can’t multi-task like I use to so I’ll simply work on obtaining a gallon of dried flowers for winter. If you have some too, be sure and keep the resinous green base on the flowers as they are rich in medicinal qualities.
I started to look at all the medicinal reasons for using Calundela and I was overwhelmed. Something that comes easily right now. So I marked this site which lists the Medicinal properties and I’ll come back to it later when I’m actually going to use the flowers. This is a favorite site that doctors use and me too though I don’t understand everything I read here.
The calendula roots benefit the soil by forming active relationships with soil fungi. That really thrills me as I’m trying to shift my bacteria based soil to a more fungi based one. The proof that I can grow mushrooms now means I’m getting there. Someday, I will grow mushrooms to eat.
Calundela are in the Asteraceae family which members fix nitrogen in the soil. “Go family!” I can imagine growing them with heavy feeders. This year I grew them beside my squash and they are huge. In a permaculture of perennials it could balance the soil without adding admendments.
How to Grow
Calendelas will thrive in just about any soil. Most of us grow it as an annual but if you live in zones 8-10 it is a short lived perennial. The flowers bloom best in cool weather with low humidity which describes our weather perfectly. In some areas calundelas bloom from May to frost.
Calundelas are related to daisies, marigolds, and sunflowers in the Asteraceae family. Since families have traits that are alike, I’ve begun researching to see – do Calendulas retard growth in plants around them like Sunflowers do? I never found the answer but since this is only effective for a foot from the plant’s roots with Sunflowers, I’ll guess calendulas are the same. They say sunflowers are not to be grown with potatoes so I’ll avoid them with calundelas.
Calendula contain the phototoxin alpha-terthienyl, which protects against root-eating nematodes. No idea what that is but we have so few bugs and disease that I’m in blissful ignorance. Calendulas repel aphids and attracts cabbage moths which lay in them and so could be used to aid your braccia family. They lure beneficial insects which includes ladybirds, lacewings, and hoverflies.
Calundulas companion plants include Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Peas, Carrots, Asparagus, and Spring salad vegetables. Wouldn’t calundulas and Tomatoes look pretty against each other?
To Encourage Growth
Calundelas self sow so be sure and allow some of the flowers to progress to the seed stage. Allow them to fall on their own and simply top dress with compost and wait for next year. Gently aerate in spring if the soil is hard and compacted. Or collect with your little ones since the seeds are large crescent moons and save to grow somewhere else next year.
I’ve found two other members of this family growing wild on our property. This speaks volumes about what I can grow and what the soil is telling me it needs.
Calendula flowers are sleepy heads and open slowly in the morning. It is best to picked them in the heat of the day when the resins are high.
Did you know calendula flowers were used to dye butter at one time? I didn’t. The more I learn the more excited I get.
- Put calendula where you want to fix nitrogen.
- Put calendulas where you want to attract pest.
- Put calendulas where you need to aid the fungi in the soil.
- Put calendulas where their bright, long, lasting color will be seen often and delight.
I know to put them in the area I want to grow mushrooms in, in the future. I know to eat the blossoms and dry them for infusions or cooking come winter.
How about you? Do you grow and use them? I hear they are very popular. I can’t wait to use them in infusions. I’m already cooking with the cheerful pedals.