Calendula species have been used traditionally as culinary and medicinal herbs.
The petals and leaves are edible fresh or dried. The petals are used to color as a replacement for saffron, and to make soaps, salves, lotions and balms. They add anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties for soothing and restoring the skin.
They are a good companion plant in vegetable gardens, due to their resistance to insects and disease. Their bright yellow to orange single-blossom and double-blossom flowers attract bees and flower nearly year-round in Southern California.
Grow in a fully sunny or partially sunny spot, and they will flower within a couple of months after planting.
In our frost-free climate, calendula seeds can be sown directly into the soil in fall and spring, and will germinate in 5-15 days if kept moist. The plants require moderate water. Mulch to prevent weeds, conserve moisture and help keep roots cool.
Calendula will produce lots of seeds, which can be found in the dried flower heads after the blooms are spent. Each new generation of seeds can produce fun new flower colors and styles.