Top 10 Uses of Calendula
In our home, calendula is mostly used for making salves, and for adorning salads and pastas. We’re working on making more oxymels this year and adding in this potent herbal medicine. I love to dry my calendula in a dehydrator or just on the counter.
- Skincare: Calendula is a popular ingredient in various skincare products due to its soothing and moisturizing properties. It can be found in creams, lotions, ointments, and salves.
- Wound Healing: The plant helps accelerate the healing process of wounds, cuts, and burns. Calendula-infused oils or salves can be applied topically to promote tissue repair. My calendula chamomile salve is a most-used item in our home.
- Anti-Inflammatory: It possesses anti-inflammatory properties that make it effective in reducing skin inflammation caused by conditions like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
- Antimicrobial: Calendula extracts have antimicrobial properties, making them useful in treating minor skin infections and preventing bacterial growth.
- Digestive Aid: Calendula tea or tinctures may help soothe digestive issues such as stomach ulcers, gastritis, and upset stomachs. It can also alleviate symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Menstrual Relief: Calendula tea is known to help regulate menstrual cycles and relieve menstrual cramps.
- Baby Care: Calendula-infused oils or creams are often used to soothe and protect the delicate skin of infants, treating diaper rash and other skin irritations.
- Culinary Herb: Calendula petals have a slightly tangy, peppery flavor, making them a popular decorative addition to salads, soups, and other culinary creations.
- Natural Dye: The vibrant yellow and orange petals of calendula can be used to create a natural dye for fabrics and other materials.
- Companion Plant: Calendula attracts beneficial insects like bees, butterflies, and ladybugs, making it a valuable addition to organic gardens that help with pollination and pest control. It attracts aphids well too making it a great sacrificial lamb.
Top 10 Health Benefits of Calendula
Of course, I am not a doctor, so do your own research if you’re really looking to implement calendula into your routine. We use it topically, in tea blends, and in herbal medicine, but also see it in skincare a lot. That will be my next endeavor.
- Anti-Oxidant: Calendula is rich in antioxidants, which help protect against cell damage caused by harmful free radicals.
- Immune System Booster: It supports immune function by stimulating the production of white blood cells and enhancing overall immune response.
- Anti-Cancer Properties: Some studies suggest that certain compounds in calendula may have anti-cancer effects, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
- Anti-Spasmodic: Calendula’s properties make it useful in relieving muscle spasms and reducing cramping.
- Anti-Fungal: The plant has antifungal properties that can help combat fungal infections like athlete’s foot and fungal nail infections.
- Anti-Hemorrhagic: Calendula is known to reduce bleeding, making it helpful for nosebleeds, heavy menstruation, and bleeding gums.
- Antiviral: It possesses antiviral properties that can help combat viral infections such as colds, flu, and herpes.
- Eye Health: Calendula extracts are used in eyewashes to soothe irritated eyes, reduce inflammation, and alleviate conjunctivitis symptoms.
- Sleep Aid: Calendula tea can have a calming effect on the nervous system, promoting relaxation and aiding in better sleep.
- Anti-Ulcer: It has been found to protect the stomach and intestinal lining, preventing the formation of ulcers and reducing gastric distress.
Growing Tips for Calendula
- Climate: Calendula prefers mild climates but can tolerate both cool and warm weather. It grows well in USDA hardiness zones 2-11.
- Sunlight: Provide calendula with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth.
- Soil: Well-drained, loamy soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH of 6.0-7.0 is ideal for calendula.
- Watering: Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Calendula does not tolerate heavy or soggy soil.
- Planting: Directly sow calendula seeds in the garden after the last frost. Alternatively, start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost and transplant seedlings outdoors.
- Maintenance: Pinch back spent flowers to promote continuous blooming. Deadheading also prevents self-seeding and encourages more flowers.
- Pests and Diseases: Calendula is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. However, watch out for aphids and snails. Neem oil or an organic pest control method can be used if necessary.
- Harvesting: Harvest the flowers early in the morning when they are fully open. Dry them upside down in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
- Storage: Store dried calendula flowers in airtight containers away from light and moisture. They can be stored for up to a year or longer. Pressing the flowers helps them maintain shape, but letting them dry and sit in a jar is just fine for uses like making an infused oil, etc.
- Propagation: There are a few ways to propagate calendula: 1. Seeds. Calendula plants produce abundant seeds that can be harvested and sown directly into the soil. Collect the ripe seeds from the dried flower heads and sow them in well-prepared soil. Lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and water gently. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate and establish themselves. 2. Division: Established calendula plants can also be propagated through division. Dig up the plant carefully and divide it into smaller sections, ensuring each division has healthy roots. Replant these divisions in well-prepared soil and water thoroughly. Division is usually done in early spring or fall when the plant is not actively flowering 3. Cuttings: Softwood cuttings can be taken from healthy calendula plants in early spring or summer. Select a non-flowering stem and cut it just below a set of leaves. Remove the lower leaves, leaving only a few at the top, and dip the cutting in rooting hormone powder. Place the cutting in a pot with well-draining potting soil and keep it in a warm and bright location. Mist the cutting regularly to maintain high humidity until it develops roots. 4. Self-seeding: Calendula plants readily self-seed, which means they drop their seeds and grow new plants on their own. Allow the flowers to dry and form seed heads on the plant. When the seeds are ripe, they will drop to the ground and germinate in the right conditions. By allowing the plants to self-seed, you can have a continuous supply of calendula plants in your garden.
Calendula In Folklore:
Calendula has been deeply rooted in folklore and used for its symbolic meanings for centuries. Is there anything more beautiful than a flower that delivers a message? I think not. Here are some ways calendula has been used in folklore and symbolical meanings:
- Love and Passion: Calendula has long been associated with love and romance. In folklore, it was believed that if a single woman placed calendula flowers under her pillow, she would dream of her future partner. Additionally, the flower was used as a love charm to attract attention from a desired person.
- Protection and Warding off Evil: Calendula was believed to possess powerful protective properties against negative energies and evil spirits. It was used in various rituals to ward off negative influences and bring positive energy into a space.
- Sun and Light: Calendula’s vibrant yellow and orange petals are reminiscent of the sun. In folklore, it was considered a symbol of sunshine, light, and warmth. The flower was often associated with solar deities and was used in rituals celebrating the sun’s energy.
- Healing and Health: Calendula has been valued for its healing properties in folklore. It was often used in medicinal remedies to treat various ailments, such as skin conditions, wounds, and inflammation. The flower was considered a symbol of healing and good health.
- Divination and Clairvoyance: Calendula petals were sometimes used in divination practices. It was believed that by tossing the petals in the air and observing how they fell, one could gain insight into the future or receive messages from the spiritual realm.
- Celebration and Festivities: Calendula has traditionally been used to decorate homes during festivals and celebrations. It symbolizes joy, abundance, and happiness, and its bright colors were thought to bring merriment and positive energy into festive atmospheres.
- Remembrance and Cemetery Flowers: Calendula flowers were often used in funerary traditions to honor the dead and decorate graves. By placing these flowers on gravesites, it was believed that the spirits of the departed would be comforted and remembered.