Calendula officinalis the plant that keeps on givingCalendula or pot marigold is a very popular and common annual flower in many ornamental gardens throughout the world. In fact it is so commonplace that I found inconclusive results as to which region this plant originates. Some sources say Europe and others India. It can grow to about 80cm tall in extreme cases and can be used in mass plantings as a complete ground cover. Calendula has many medicinal, companion planting, culinary and even cosmetic uses which I will write about in another blog entry.
Self seedingI planted Calendula in one of my flower beds at home a couple of years ago and it is still going strong to this day. Being an annual plant Calendula's tactic for reproductions is to produce as many seeds as it can which fall to the ground after the flowers are done. The flowers are at their best in spring and summer however in Melbourne they can pretty much have some sort of flower on display all year round. The seeds have an interesting shape and remind me of little dried and curled up millipedes. The first year they sprouted in my garden from self sown seeds I originally thought they could be forget me not seedlings (forget me nots are a bit of a weed in my area depending on whether you like them or not). Luckily I suspected they could be Calendula seedlings and let them develop into full plants.
Calendula is such a successful self seeder that it can escape if you let it. It is not fussy about soil conditions and I have seen it growing in my Macedon garden in between pavers where the soil would be quite poor. If you want it to self seed as I do then leaving a few plants to die off naturally will ensure they are perpetual garden residents. If you don't want them around any more it is important to dead head or pull out the plants once they develop seed heads (see below the picture below).
Calendula flowers in my Macedon garden during early summer.
A close up of a Calendula seed head loaded with seed. If you don't want any more pot marigolds then you need to make sure these little seed bombs don't hit the ground.