Golden Emperor Calendula
Seed Count: Approx. 40 seeds
Days to Maturity: Annual
Description: Golden Emperor Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is a very attractive flower that's quite popular in herbal medicine. It produces beautiful, large, golden, sunny double blooms up to 3 inches wide, on 2 ft. tall plants with bright green foliage. Golden emperor is quite the prolific bloomer, and will produce lots of flowers, if dead headed regularly. Calendula flowers are edible, and are often used as a garnish, or added to salads for a tangy flavor. You can also make tea and salves with it. Even if you aren't interested in its edible or medicinal properties, it adds beauty to cut flower arrangements, and butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees love it. This easy growing flower is great to plant in raised beds, used as a border, or planted in containers.
How To Grow
Sowing: You can direct sow your seeds in the fall or early spring. Since they prefer cooler weather, in the deep south seeds should be sown in the fall. Sowing them about 1/4 an inch below the surface. To start your seeds indoors, plant them about 1/4 an inch deep in individual pots or in a flat. Keep the dirt evenly moist and at a temperature of 60-65 degrees until they germinate. Germination should occur within 10-15 days.
Growing: Calendula can adapt to almost any soil, but prefers well-drained, poor to average soil. Since it prefers cool temperatures, it will appreciate filtered shade during warmer months. Once established, it doesn't need regular watering. For the best blooms it shouldn't be over-watered. To keep the plant bushy and neat, occasionally pinch off the tops of the developing stalks. If deadheaded regularly, it will produce prolific blossoms all season long. In hotter regions, it may slow down or completely stop blooming in the heat of summer, but it will begin again in the fall. This plant will readily reseed itself if left to do so.
Harvesting: To harvest fresh flowers, make sure to cut the stems long and place them in water immediately. For culinary use, cut flower heads that have just opened, and spread them out away from direct sunlight to dry completely, turning them occasionally; you can also use a dehydrator to dry your flowers as well. When your flowers are crisp and dry, store them in an airtight container for up to a year. The dried petals can be used in place of saffron, or as a garnish to add color and spice to dishes. To save seeds, wait until the developing seeds turns from green to pale tan and easily comes loose from the seed head. Remove the seed heads, and spread them out to dry away from direct sunlight. When thoroughly dried, thresh out the seeds to separate them from the husk, then store your seeds in a cool, dry place.