Calendula: Harvesting and Uses

Calendula (Pot Marigold) is a powerful yet gentle medicinal plant that is a beautiful addition to any garden or landscape.  There are many varieties to choose from, all of which are easy to grow, attract beneficial insects, and can be dried with little effort.

To harvest calendula simply snip the whole flower below the head. The more you pick, the more flowers will pop open, so pick often.  Pick mid day when flowers are dry and fully opened, at their prime. You can start collecting flowers from the time they start opening until frost.

You can use the calendula fresh, or you can dry or freeze the flowers as a means of preservation.

Most commonly the flower petals are the part of the calendula plant that are dried for later use.  You don’t need anything fancy to dry calendula.  A flat piece of newspaper, cardboard, or screen, in a dry area with decent ventilation, will make an fine place to preserve your flower petals. Once the stem has turned yellowish brown and the petals brittle, you can pull the petals off and place them in a storage container.  An airtight mason jar or ziplock bag work fine.

To freeze, simply place whole fresh flowers in a freezer container or ziplock bag until needed. You can use them as a poultice, straight from the freezer.

Calendula petals are rich in vitamins and minerals and can be used in a variety of ways such as insalves, teas, infusions, steams, baths, tinctures or even raw in salads.  In Europe calendula has been used commonly to flavor and add color to foods.  It is used medicinally to treat a variety of everyday ailments and is used to support the immune system, healthy skin, wound healing, and is anti-inflammatory. Calendula is a wonderful herb for babies and children.

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