Calendula is self seeding annual that hails from the mediterranean but is now commonly found throughout the world.
Calendula flowers have long been known to be among the most potent skin healing agents on the planet. Used externally it has antiseptic properties and it promotes cell repair as it soothes, sores, burns, bruises and skin ulcers and insect bites. The infused petals (made into a tea), have also been used to reduce fever and to address gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers, cramps, indigestion, and diarrhea and as a mouth wash to help heal canker sores. Some also find it useful as a rejuvenating eye wash to combat eye strain, to nourish the eyes and improve vision.
Many people grow it as a non-fussy, cheery,prolific, long blooming contribution to the garden. Calendula is a somewhat hardy annual. It will not be harmed by a light frost either in the spring or fall. It will succumb to heavy frosts or freezes. Few realize the potent contribution the petals offer.
Calendula enjoys full sun—or even partial shade, in hot summer regions—and average soil, and has moderate water needs. If flower production dwindles, you can cut back the plants to increase new flower production. Calendula will self-sow yearly in many gardens, and it doesn’t mind crowding.
Harvest & Keeping
Collect the flower heads on hot, sunny days for the highest resin content, and pick them regularly to encourage continued flowering. Choose flowers that are just opening in the morning before 11 a.m. Dry calendula quickly after you harvest it, and check the center of the flower for dryness. Molding in storage is a problem. Watch for reabsorption of moisture, and keep it in complete darkness. Storing dry heads in dark-colored glass jars best preserves the medicinal properties. Most often, the dried flowers are made into salves by either infusing them for several weeks in oil or by gently heating in oil. Strain, and combine with beeswax for semi-hard cream. The dry or fresh petals may be made and consumed as a tea and the fresh petals enjoyed in salads and make a festive garnish for any dish or dessert!