Sometimes called the pot marigold, this is an easily grown annual with large single or double daisy-like flowers in a variety of cheerful hues, ranging from bright orange and yellow to apricot, gold, bronze, lemon and cream, as well as bicolours. Calendula are frost hardy and generally sown from seed (or planted out as seedlings from a nursery) in autumn. Seeds can be broadcast directly into garden beds or started in seedling trays. There are various cultivars available, including dwarf forms as well as taller ones, such as 'Pacific Beauty' (ht 80 cm).
Calendula can have a long blooming season, from late winter through spring and even into summer, especially if deadheaded. in fact, it is said that the name 'calendula' was given to the plant, in Latin meaning 'through the months', because of this. If cut back when they have become straggly, they may flower again! They will self-seed from year to year if a few seed-heads are left on the plants towards the end of their lives. They do best in full sun (but will also tolerate part-shade), in fertile, well-drained soil. They attract beneficial insects to the garden, and also make good cut flowers.
Calendula have long been used for medicinal purposes and as a yellow dye. The petals of the flowers are a bright addition to salads and other dishes, and apparently can be used as a substitute for saffron and as a tea. The flowers are also used in skin and cosmetic products. In India, Calendula is a sacred flower, and has long been used in wreaths to decorate statues of Hindu deities.