Scientific: Calendula officinalis
Common: pot marigold
Family: Asteraceae
Origin: South Europe, north Africa to Iran

Pronounciation: Ca-LEN-du-la of-fi-ci-NAL-is

Hardiness zones
Sunset All

Landscape Use: Winter bedding plant to impart warm splashes of color. Best planted in masses of the same flower color.

Form & Character: Hardy herbaceous short-lived perennial treated as an annual, festive, familiar daisy-like flowers.

Growth Habit: Depending on cultivar, ranges from dwarf and rosetting to upright and branched to 3 feet in height.

Foliage/Texture: Medium to dull green oblong leaves, size variable depending on temperature and moisture, pubescent, aromatic, and viscid to the touch; medium texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Single or double ray flowers to 4 inches across, colors include orange, apricot, cream and soft yellow. Flowers more yellow in warm weather. Fruit contain multiple, oblong greenish seeds.

Seasonal Color: Flowers in winter and spring.

Temperature: Prefers 40o to 80oF.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Light and well drained best. Will grow well in sandy soil.

Watering: Regular

Pruning: Remove spent flowers before fruit development to prolong blooming period.

Propagation: Seed, can naturalize under right conditions in Phoenix. Naturalizes easily in Southern California. Here is a digital image captured by me during March 2009 of blooming pot marigods in the front yard of my parent's next door neighbors house in southern California that were initially sown from seed by my mom in my parents backyard in the early 1960s. That's right, they come back every year and move around the neighborhood.

Disease and pests: Mealy bugs, aphids, sow bugs, leaf miners.

Additional comments: Easily reseeds. Best planted from nursery cell packs. Dwarf strains to only 12 to 15 inches. Many named cultivars. Calendula is an old fashioned garden annual that made a popular comeback during the last 10 years due to the introduction of dwarf, double flowered cultivars.

Other interesting tidbits: The petals of pot marigold are known to be edible and are sometimes used as garnishes, though not very tasty. They are also used as a saffron substitute to color and flavor foods and also for yellow dye to color paper and fabrics. Pot marigold also has medicinal uses. It has been used for the treatment of skin disorders and pain, and as a bactericide, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. The petals and pollen contain triterpenoid esters (an anti-inflammatory) and the carotenoids flavoxanthin and auroxanthin (antioxidants, and the source of the yellow-orange coloration). The leaves and stems contain other carotenoids, mostly lutein (80%) and zeaxanthan (5%), and beta-carotene. Finally, as a cosmetic it is a great skin soother and softener, and is used in salves and lotions.