Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis), often called English or garden marigold is most probably native to southern Europe, although its long cultivation history can shade this statement. Commonly grown in every Mediterranean countries and here in the UK too, for centuries.
Marigolds grown as hardy annual flower and can easily self sown so don’t be surprised to have the plants appear the next year. The leaves are oblong, 5-10 cm long, slightly waved or toothed and have tiny hairs.
Cultivated as a flower in many garden, but can be a really useful herb. The seeds can be sown directly outdoors in May, or propagated in the greenhouse from April. The beautiful seedlings alone worth growing these wonderful plants.
The leaves and the petals are edible and used widely in cosmetics, medicines. Pot marigold is a well known and really versatile herb in herbal medicine. It is, above all, a remedy for skin problems and is applied externally to bites and stings. The cosmetic industry uses the extracts in different cosmetics, because the content of saponins and essential oils. The flowers and the leaves are antiseptic. The flowers are used fresh or dried. For drying the petals is best to harvest the flowers when they are fully open. The edible yellow dye in the petals is a saffron substitute and used to colour and flavour rice and soups. The leaves can be used in salads when young.
Pot Marigolds are pungently scented and attract hoverflies (aphid eaters) to your garden. Commonly grown as a companion plant with tomatoes and the marigold will repel the white flies which cause problems in many greenhouses.