This bright and cheery annual has fragrant leaves topped with bright orange/yellow daisy like flowers. Very hardy and easily grown outdoors from seed. It has a useful long flowering period, lasting from early summer right into autumn. The flowers usually open at dawn and close at dusk. Taller forms make excellent cut-flowers that last well.

The flowers were once used for flavouring in soups and stews, hence its common name: pot marigold. Dried calendula petals have also known to be used as a substitute for saffron.

Family: Asteraceae (Daisy family)
Botanical Name: Calendula
Common Names: common marigold, pot marigold, English marigold, Scotch marigold, golds, Jack-on-horseback, marybuds.

Foliage: Deciduous, aromatic, long lance-shaped, green leaves.

Flowers: Daisy-like flowers, in vivid golden yellows and oranges to apricot and cream. Single, semidouble or double forms are available.

Flowering Period: Early summer into early autumn (June to October).

Soil: Moist but well-drained, moderately fertile to poor soil. Chalk, clay, sand or loam. Any pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun, will tollerate some shade. Grow in a north, east, west or south facing aspect.

Habit: Low growing, bushy.

Type: Hardy annuals and biennials.

Origin: Southwestern Asia, western Europe and the Mediterranean

Hardiness: Fully hardy throughout the UK (usually dies after flowering at the end of the season).

Planting and Growing Calendula

A good old-fashioned cottage garden plant that is a cheerful contribution to the front of flower beds and borders. Compact forms make suitable plants for pots and containers. It can also be a colourful addition to the herb garden. Although the foliage is pungent, it is the flower petals that are used in the kitchen.

Calendula are fast growing so they make ideal flowers for beginners and children to grow, along with sunflowers and cornflowers.

Best grown in full sun, in a light free-draining garden soil of low fertility. Rich soils tend to encourage leaf growth at the expense of flowers.

Tall varieties are ideal as cut flowers. Does not usually required staking or support.

Where to grow: Ideal for mixed flower beds and borders or as edging. Suitable for town, city and courtyard gardens. A good choice for cottage, informal and wildlife gardens. Can be grown in the vegetable garden to encourage beneficial insects. In fact they will thrive almost anywhere in the garden, and once you have planted some they will usually self seed themselves around, giving you years of brightly coloured little blooms.

Taking Care of Calendula

Easy to grow, requiring very little care and attention.


Pinch out terminal shoots if you want to encourage more bushy growth. Deadhead regularly to keep plants tidy and prolong flowering period. This also to prevents self-seeding, as they will often produce hundreds of self sown seedlings. Self-sown seedlings are not usually as good as the parent, so its best to sow fresh seed annually if you want a really good show.

Pests and Diseases

Prone to attack by aphids and caterpillars. Powdery mildew and rust can affect the leaves in damp spells.

Propagating Calendula

Propagate by seed sown in-situ, during spring or autumn (March-May or September-October). Thin out young plants to 12in (30cm) apart. Succession sowing can be done up until early summer, to extend the flowering season further.

Popular Varieties of Calendula Grown in the UK

Calendula officinalis is the main genus grown, with many hybrids developed from it. Often sold as ‘mixtures’ to provide a broad range of colours. The blooms of most cultivated forms are semidouble or double. Some bicolour forms are also available.

C. officinalis (pot marigold), single orange flowers. Height and spread 1-2ft (30-60cm).

C. 'Art Shades Mixed', bright semidouble flowers in a mix of colours. Height and spread 2ft (60cm).

C. 'Pacific Apricot Beauty', yellow with apricot edged doubled blooms. Height 2-2.5ft (60-75cm).

C. ‘Fiesta Gitana' is a good compact variety, available in yellow, orange or a mix of colours. Height: 12in (30cm).

C. 'First Lady', bright yellow flowers.

C. 'Geisha Girl', red-orange flowers.

C. 'Gold Galore', golden flowers.

C. 'Indian Maid', orange with maroon centres.

C. 'Kelmscott Giant Orange' large orange flowers. Height: 12in (30cm).

C. 'Lemon Gem' yellow flowers.

C. 'Mandarin', orange flowers.

C. 'Orange King', long-stemmed flowers. Height: 18in (45cm)

C. 'Pacific Beauty Lemon' double yellow flowers. Height and spread 1-2ft (30-60cm).

C. 'Pacific Beauty Mixed' has fully double flowers in lemon and orange. Height: 1-2ft (30-60cm).

C. 'Pink Surprise' salmon-pink, double flowers with a touch of orange. Height and spread 1.5ft (45cm).

C. 'Princess Orange Black' vibrant blooms, good for cutting. Height: 20in (50cm)

C. ‘Radio’ has double flowers with orange rolled petals. Height 2ft (60cm).

C. ‘Touch of Red’ has a mix of orange, cream and yellow flowers with a lovely red flushing. Height: 18in (45cm)