A Step-by-Step Guide: How to Grow Calendula from Seed
Calendula, popularly known as pot marigold, is a beautiful addition to any garden. With their vibrant, sunny colors and hardy nature, they are a favorite among gardeners. But what if you could extend your enjoyment of these beautiful flowers by learning how to grow them from seed? In this guide, we’ll detail the process step by step, ensuring that even if you’re a novice gardener, you’ll be able to cultivate a thriving patch of Calendula in no time.
1. Getting started with Calendula seeds
First and foremost, you’ll need to get some Calendula seeds. These seeds can typically be bought from a local nursery or ordered online. While Calendula seeds are fairly large and easy to handle, their germination can sometimes be unreliable. Hence, it’s advisable to purchase more seeds than you think you’ll need.
Once you have the seeds, you should make sure the soil is prepared. Calendula prefers well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. It’s also a good idea to enrich the soil with organic matter or compost to provide the nutrients the seeds will need to grow.
2. Planting the seeds
Once the soil is ready, you can sow the seeds directly outside where they will eventually grow. Calendula can tolerate a bit of frost, hence, the best time to plant the seeds is in early spring when the frost has passed. Simply push each seed into the soil about a quarter-inch deep, ensuring each one is about 8 to 10 inches apart.
After planting the seeds, water them well. Keep the soil consistently moist but not overly wet. Excessive moisture can make the seeds rot. After roughly a couple of weeks, you should notice the first seedlings emerging from the soil.
3. Care for Calendula plants
Once the plants start to grow, you’ll need to water them regularly, especially during dry spells. However, make sure to avoid overwatering as this can cause root rot and other harmful conditions.
Keep an eye out for pests and diseases as well. Though Calendula plants are largely pest-free, they can sometimes attract aphids. If you spot any of these pests, you can typically get rid of them with a simple water spray.
4. Harvesting Calendula flowers
Calendula flowers are usually ready to harvest towards the end of summer. The exact timing may vary based on your region’s climate and the specific variety of Calendula you’ve planted. When harvesting, pick the flower heads on a day when they have fully opened in the sun but are not yet showing signs of wilting or browning.
After picking the flowers, let them dry in a cool, dry place. Once they’re dry, you can remove the petals and store them for later use, or you could directly use the flowers in teas, salads, cosmetics, or other herbal preparations.
5. Saving seeds for next year
Once you have fallen in love with Calendula, you would likely want to grow them every year. Luckily, saving seeds from the current batch of plants for planting in the next season is quite easy. Towards the end of the growing season, you may notice seed pods developing on your Calendula plants. These pods can be collected, and the seeds inside saved for the next planting season.
Be sure to store these saved seeds in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to plant them. With proper storage, Calendula seeds can remain viable for up to three years, providing you with a continuous supply of these delightful flowers.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Calendula easy to grow?
Yes, Calendula is considered a beginner-friendly plant. It requires basic care and grows well in a variety of conditions.
2. Where does Calendula grow best?
Calendula grows best in full sun locations with well-drained soil. They are relatively tolerant of poor soil conditions and can withstand light frosts.
3. How long does it take for Calendula seeds to germinate?
Under ideal conditions, Calendula seeds typically germinate in 10 to 14 days. However, this timespan can depend on several factors, including the quality of the soil, the watering regimen, and the ambient temperature.