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Calendula - Garden Guide

Calendula Care At A Glance

  • Annual flower or herb with bright orange, yellow or white blooms.
  • Prefers well-drained, organically rich soil in full to part sun.
  • Tolerant of cold weather makes it a good option for early spring and fall.
  • Also known as Pot Marigold or English Marigold.
  • Edible flower petals used for salad spice or historically as medicinal plants.

Planting Instructions

Follow similar steps as you would for other annual flowers:

  • Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last average frost date.
  • Sow seeds into pre-moistened seed starting mix in trays or individual plantable pots or use Jiffy-7 plant starters.
  • NOTE: Seeds must be started at lower temperatures than most annual flowering plants. Warmer temperatures lead to weaker finished plants.
  • Optimal bottom heat range is 55° to 65°F. Germination in 7-14 days typically.
  • Cover 1/4 to 1/2-inch with moistened mix and keep seeds well covered since light prevents germination.
  • Keep medium moist but not soggy.
  • After germination, place seedlings into bright light, but maintain a cool temperature.
  • Transplant seedlings after two to four sets of true leaves develop.
  • Harden off seedlings for 5-10 days before planting outside.
  • Seeds can be sown directly outdoors a few weeks before the last frost while temperatures are cool, following these same basic guidelines above.

Care & Maintenance

  • Plant seedlings 6-12 inches apart in well-drained soil, with full to part sun.
  • Calendula can be grown equally well in containers as in-ground using the same methods.
  • Individual plant size varies by variety, with full-sized and dwarf selections available.
  • Regular deadheading of spent blooms helps keep plants blooming and maintains desirable bushy plants.


Maintain consistent regular watering, using a 1-inch per week rule.


Utilize fertilizers with a formula lower in nitrogen but higher in phosphorus and potassium.

  • Fertilize with a complete, water-soluble food once every two weeks, such as ALGOPlus Flowering Plant 4-6-7.
  • Another option is to broadcast a 3-5-3 granulated, slow-release fertilizer into beds or pots 3-4 weeks before setting out transplants. A rate of 3-5 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. can be used for beds or follow product label instructions for application rates for potted plants.
  • NOTE: Fertilizers with high nitrogen produce excessive vegetative growth while inhibiting flowers.


Powdery Mildew

  • Calendula plants are susceptible to powdery mildew.
  • Maintain proper plant spacing and provide good air circulation to prevent disease.
  • Preventative fungicide applications with sulfur or bio-fungicides such as Bonide® Revitalize® work well.

Seed Germination Issues

  • Lack of germination can be due to improper soil temperature.
  • Germination can be halted or inhibited by light. Ensure seeds are covered adequately but not too deep.
  • Lack of consistent moisturecauses low to no germ.
  • Stretching seedlings is due to lack of adequate sunlight and temp. Too high, or a combination of both.

Lack of Flowering

  • Inadequate sunlight. Provide plants with 4 or more hours of sunlight.
  • Excess nitrogen or nutrient imbalance. See fertilizing above.
  • High temperatures. If plants are deadheaded or kept pinched back and otherwise healthy, they can resume flowering when temperatures drop again.

Insect Issues

  • Aphids - Manage their occurrence with insecticidal soap (Safer® Insect Killing Soap)
  • Snails or Slugs chew holes in leaves. Manage with homemade, in-ground cider vinegar or beer traps, or with applications of Diatomaceous Earth around plants or by application of snail/slug baits (Sluggo® Plus)
  • Cabbage looper can also chew foliage. Manage by hand picking when found or with Bt spray applications such as Thuricide®. Other insecticides with low-impact active ingredients, such as Spinosad or Bonide® Pyrethrin, can also be used effectively.