- Author: Elvira Bautista DeLeon
I did not know anything about you but you caught my attention at the Vallejo People's Garden on Mare Island a couple of years ago - blooming side by side with organic vegetables and herbs on raised beds; spilling in between raised bed walkways; anywhere and everywhere inside and outside the fenced garden.
You look so cheery with bright daisy-like blooms in shades of golden yellow-orange, apricot, cream, and soft lemon-yellow colored flowers radiating from center discs. Your flowers come in single and double blooms on stems with long narrow fine-haired leaves, round on the ends, and quite aromatic. Your vibrant colored flowers attract not only passers-by but especially butterflies and other pollinators.
Your height is perfect. You do not grow too high at 1-2 ft and branching out beautifully at 1-1 1/2 ft wide.
I picked some seeds from your dried, spent flowers and said to myself, ‘maybe I can sow some of you in my backyard.' This was around three summers ago. I sowed you in my sloped side yard and in the kidney-shaped backyard planting area where two agapanthuses, two giant birds of paradise, a single rose bush, marguerite daisies, a bay laurel tree, and a motley of weeds grow.
Then spring came. Guess what! You did not disappoint. You began displaying your splendid blooms in the side yard, the backyard, and everywhere. I made a bouquet of your orange flowers with fillers of Italian flat-leaf parsley white blooms and gave them to a dear friend who was recovering from surgery. She loved them!
The literature I read says you grow in Zones 6-10 and your seeds are sown in late summer or early fall in mild winter climates. Well, I've been sowing your seeds all times of the year. As your flowers dry and tiny, worm-like curved seeds turn brown on your flower heads, I pick your seeds and sow them everywhere in the backyard. Even more wonderful, your seeds get blown by the wind and they germinate and grow where they land - just like Mother Nature intends you to grow. You, my friend, are an annual but you are self-sustaining and self-sowing. Instead of deadheading your flowers, I let your flower heads go to seed so you can keep on growing which makes you a perennial for me. You become dormant in the wintertime but as soon as the rains come, you start to grow and begin to show off your colors way before springtime.
Last year, I had some problems with you - powdery mildew and aphids. They were localized in some areas where you landed so I decided to uproot some of you so you didn't infect the other plants. Hopefully, you will be pest-free this year. I will thin where you grow in mass to prevent any more problems. We shall see. I will also grow you in pots this summer so I can enjoy your cheery colors in autumn inside the house.
Thank you for keeping on giving and putting a smile on my face every time I see your cheery colors.
Cheers and Love,
Genus: Calendula officinalis
COMMON NAME: CALENDULA, POT MARIGOLD
Plant Type: Annual
Dwarf strains (12-15 inches high): Bon Bon, Fiesta (Fiesta Gitana) and Daisy May (semi-double flower heads).
Taller strains ( 1 1/2-2 ft): Flashback (orange, peach, apricot or yellow with red or maroon reverse); Kablouna (pompon centers with looser edges); Pacific Beauty and Radio (quilted, cactus-type blooms); Apricot Twist (double, soft-apricot orange flower heads); Snow Princess (creamy white with brown or yellow centers).
Care: Sow seeds in-place or in flats in the late summer or early fall in mild winter. Thin to 10-18 inches. Work in compost before planting. Adapts to most fast-draining soils. Remove spent flowers for continuous flowering. Best in full sun but some shade tolerated.
DK Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers.
Penguin Random House, Fourth Edition, The American Edition 2019.
The New Sunset Western Garden Book. Edited by Kathleen Norris Brenzel, 9th Edition, Second Printing 2013, The United States of America.
The Little Guides HERBS. Consultant Editor: Geoffrey Bernie.
Published by City Fog Press, SF, California, Reprinted 2001.