Botanical name: Calendula Officinalis
Native to: Southern Europe
It's very easy to grow marigolds from seed. They grow happily outdoors either in a pot or in the ground and can also be grown indoors in a sunny spot next to a window. You can sow seeds outdoors in March or if you are keen to get going you can start them off indoors in February.
They are an annual plant - completing their life cycle in one year - and they drop plenty of seeds allowing new plants to grow in the next season. You can also collect some of the seeds at the end of summer to sow again the following year.
How to use
We mainly use our calendula to make an infused oil, the basis for all our herbal cosmetics. The flowers are rich in anti-oxidants (flavanoids) and these have a wonderful affect on protecting and restoring the skin. It is known as a vulnerary agent meaning it is useful for the healing of wounds. Calendula oil is very gentle and can be used to make creams and lotions to treat all sorts of skin complaints like eczema, stings and bites, psoriasis, scarring, stretch marks and nappy rash. Follow the guide below to make your oil which can be used directly on the skin or incorporated into another recipe.
To make an infused oil
1. Harvest marigold flowers in the morning on a dry day before they lose their volatile oils
2. Leave herbs to dry in a cool, dark place (away from direct sunlight) for 1-2 weeks to dry out
3. Pack the dried flowers loosely into a jam jar and cover with oil - sunflower, olive and almond oil all work well (about 15g herb to 100ml oil).
4. Leave on a sunny windowsill for 2 weeks to infuse
5. Strain out the flowers and store oil in a cool, dark place.
If you don't have a sunny windowsill you can also infuse your oil by placing herbs and oil in heat proof bowl set over simmering water. Heat for 30 minutes then leave to stand for 1 hour. Never let the oil boil.