Learn About Calendulas

How to Sow

  • Direct sow seeds in average soil in full sun after danger of heavy frost.
  • Sow in ordinary or poor garden soil. In Deep South, Gulf and Pacific Coast areas, sow from fall to early spring.
  • Sow seeds thinly and cover with ¼ inch of soil.
  • Firm soil lightly and keep evenly moist.
  • Seedlings will emerge in 10-15 days.

How to Grow

  • Thin seedlings to 16 inches apart when seedlings are 1-2 inches tall.
  • Keep soil evenly moist but not wet.
  • Deadhead the plants regularly to keep them blooming continuously.
  • If your calendula plants die out due to hot summer weather, cut them back hard and water. They will start growing again when cooler weather returns.
  • Plants can self-sow, so allow some to set seeds.
  • Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
  • Remove plants after they are killed by heavy frost in fall to avoid disease issues the following year.

Growing tips

  • Calendula performs best in areas with relatively cool summers, but can grow anywhere.
  • Plant calendula in an herb garden or in containers to add a splash of color, or plant them with both annuals and perennials in flower beds and borders.
  • Taller varieties make beautiful cut flowers and nice additions to dried arrangements. For fresh arrangements, cut the flowers when they are about half open. To dry, hang them in small bunches upside down in a warm, dry place.

Common Pests and Problems

Aster Yellows: Plants are stunted, develop witch's brooms (excessive growth), petals turn green and become deformed. This virus-like condition is spread by leafhoppers. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected plants and control leafhoppers. Remove weeds in the area which serve as alternate hosts to the disease.

Calendula Smut: A fungal leaf disease that produces circular greenish yellow to brownish or black spots. Spots may have darker brown borders. Spot are thickened and will appear on both the front and back of the leaf. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops and remove all debris at the end of the season. Avoid getting leaves wet when watering. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service if the infection is severe.

Powdery Mildew: This fungus disease occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Root Rots: A number of pathogens cause root rots of seedlings as well as mature roots. Burpee Recommends: Practice crop rotation and do not plant related crops in the same area for several years. Pull up and discard infected plants. Make sure your soil has excellent drainage. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.

Rust: A number of fungus diseases that rust colored spots on foliage and stalks. Burpee Recommends: Practice crop rotation. Remove infected plants. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.

Slugs: These pests leave large holes in the foliage or eat leaves entirely. They leave a slime trail, feed at night and are mostly a problem in damp weather. Burpee Recommends: Hand pick, at night if possible. You can try attracting the slugs to traps either using cornmeal or beer. For a beer trap, dig a hole in the ground and place a large cup or bowl into the hole; use something that has steep sides so that the slugs can’t crawl back out when they’re finished. Fill the bowl about ¾ of the way full with beer, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, the bowl should be full of drowned slugs that can be dumped out for the birds to eat. For a cornmeal trap, put a tablespoon or two of cornmeal in a jar and put it on its side near the plants. Slugs are attracted to the scent but they cannot digest it and it will kill them. You can also try placing a barrier around your plants of diatomaceous earth or even coffee grounds. They cannot crawl over these.

Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.

Tarnished Plant Bug: These insects cause distorted leaves and flower buds. The adults are about ¼ inch long, oval shaped and flat. They are greenish brown with reddish brown markings on their wings. There is a small but distinct yellow tipped triangle in the center of the back behind the head. Burpee Recommends: Introduce beneficial insects to your garden. Traps are available. Try insecticidal soap.

Whitefly: These are small white flying insects that often rise up in a cloud when plants are disturbed or brushed against. Burpee Recommends: They are difficult to control without chemicals. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.

FAQ

Why did my calendula stop blooming? Calendula is a cool season bloomer and will take a rest with the hot weather. Cut the plant back and the blooms will return with the cooler weather. Calendula prefers a poor soil, do not over fertilize it.

Can I start seeds inside? Calendula is very easy to start outside and does not need to be started inside, however you can start them inside 6-8 weeks before the last heavy frost.

Are the flowers edible? Yes the petals can be used fresh or used in cooking. The petals add a taste similar to saffron and can be added to soups and stew.

Are calendula plants toxic?  No they are not toxic and are safe for cats and dogs.

Is calendula a good companion plant? Yes, Calendula will deter beetles from the asparagus. Plant near tomatoes to deter tomato worm.

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