Calendula – often call pot marigold – is actually not a marigold at all, but a separate species.
Calendula officinalis is a group of very healing plants in the asteraceae family. They are mostly yellow, but a whole new subset of these plants have popped up lately. From the pretty pastel pinks and yellows of the Zeolites to the bold orange and bright yellow of the Sunset series, these pretty plants pack quite a punch. They are annuals in much of the world but often reseed to come back the following spring.
As soon as the blossoms open, I watch for the flower to be pollinated. Then, I strip all the outer petals off of the flower, leaving the seeds to form. Once the seeds form, I pick the heads and set them to dry. These plants will sprout quite easily and tend to bloom just a few weeks after the first true leaves start to form. You can save the seeds from year to year if kept in a cool, dry place.
Some say soak the seeds, but I just plant them in potting soil and water them. They will need the warmth of the sun as they are native to Egypt. Watch the young plants for powdery mildew. I spray mine with a mixture of water and neem oil to help with mildew and discourage bugs.
Calendula Infused Oil Recipe
Calendula has been used for many years as a healing herb, but there has been some use as a fungicide. The brightly colored petals of the common calendula are often dried and infused into oil.
- a pint jar
- half a jar of dried calendula petals (find organic dried calendula petals here)
- oil, such as grapeseed, sweet almond, or jojoba (find these organic oils here)
- Place the dried flowers into the jar and cover with oil. Shake and let sit for an hour or so. Check to see if there is enough oil. It should cover the flowers by at least half an inch or if the flowers are floating, have a half inch at the bottom with no flowers.
- Place the jar in the sun, on a picnic table outdoors (if you’re in a warm climate), or in a sunny window.
- Shake the jar every few days for up to six weeks. I usually use mine after two to three weeks. You will notice the oil turn yellow and it will smell kind of toasty or nutty. That’s when you know it’s ready to use.
- Strain the oil. (I keep the used petals in the freezer until I need them for a batch of homemade soap. I often just sprinkle the petals right into a batch of soap as this is one herb that is not discolored by the lye. In most cases reactive lye will cause dried herbs to turn brown, but calendula will remain yellow for the life of the soap.)
Ways to Use It
So what do you do with it now? The oil has many uses:
- I use it in place of antibacterial cream for scratches and scrapes. You can make it into a healing salve using this recipe.
- It works great as a hair oil, leaving your hair shiny and healthy. Just place a few drops in your palm and work it into the ends. If you use a very small amount, your hair won’t feel greasy.
- You can use the oil as a healing make up remover. Just dab a bit on a cotton pad and use this to remove the make up.
- It works great on healing acne. Just dab a bit on a pimple and it will start to heal right away. Calendula has the added benefit of reducing redness, so this can help with acne eruptions.
- It could help with the redness from rosacea, but this has not been studied much. Either way, it can’t hurt.
- Use the oil to make a great homemade herbal body cream.
- It would be a great addition to a DIY moisturizing body wash, helping with breakouts and skin imperfections all over the body.
More About Calendula
Calendula petals are also full of antioxidants. This may be why they are so good for healing the skin. They are also edible. I add them to salads and soups quite frequently. They also look very pretty mixed into dips and cream cheese spreads. I have not tried them deep fried, but I’ve been told they are very good dipped in a batter and deep fried in a healthy oil. I have also added them to cornbread and muffins. Calendula is such a versatile herb and you can have fun using it in many ways!
How about you?
Have you used calendula? If so, what have you used it for? Share in the comments section below!