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How to Grow Calendula From Seed Indoors

How to Grow Calendula From Seed Indoors

Jeena Lugo Jeena Lugo
7 minute read

Calendula (Calendula officinalis), or pot marigold, is a cheerful and vibrant flower that can quickly grow from seed. It produces bright orange, yellow, and gold blooms that attract pollinators and can be used in various ways, from medicinal salves to culinary dishes. In this article, we will discuss how to grow calendula from seed indoors, so you can enjoy its beauty and benefits all year round.

Why Grow Calendula from Seed Indoors?

Growing calendula from seed indoors allows you to control the environment and timing of your plants. It also ensures that you have a consistent supply of young plants that can be transplanted outside when the weather is favorable. Plus, starting from seed is often more cost-effective than purchasing mature plants or seedlings.

Sowing Calendula Seeds

When sowing calendula seeds, choosing high-quality heirloom seeds that have not been treated with chemicals or pesticides is essential. Here's how to sow calendula seeds indoors:

  1. Fill a seed tray with well-draining soil.
  2. Scatter seed thinly and cover with a thin layer of soil, pressing down gently.
  3. Water gently to ensure good soil contact.

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Providing the Right Environment for Calendula Seedlings

Once the seeds are sown, providing the right environment for the seedlings to thrive is crucial. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Light

Calendula seeds require full sun to partial shade to germinate and grow. Place your seed tray in a sunny location or under grow lights to ensure they receive enough sunlight.

Temperature

Calendula seedlings prefer cooler temperatures and will grow best in a room with a temperature range of 60-70°F (15-21°C). Be sure to protect them from drafts and temperature fluctuations.

Watering

Water your calendula seedlings regularly but avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot. Ensure the soil is well-drained and allow the top inch to dry out before watering again.

Fertilizer

Calendula seedlings don't require fertilizer until they have a few sets of true leaves. At this point, you can begin to fertilize with a balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength.

Pinching Back Calendula Seedlings

Pinching back your calendula seedlings can help to encourage bushier growth and more abundant blooms. When your seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, use scissors or pruning shears to pinch off the top of the stem just above the second set of leaves. This will encourage the plant to develop multiple branches, resulting in a fuller and more robust plant.

Transplanting Calendula Seedlings

When your calendula seedlings have reached a height of around 2 inches (5 cm) and have a few sets of true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted. Here's how to do it:

  1. Choose a well-drained spot in your garden with full sun to partial shade.
  2. Dig a hole slightly larger than your seedling's root ball.
  3. Gently remove the seedling from the tray, careful not to damage the roots.
  4. Place the seedling in the hole and backfill it with soil.
  5. Water gently to settle the soil around the roots.

Choosing the Right Soil

Calendula plants thrive in well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Before planting, it's essential to ensure that the earth is loose, fertile, and well-drained

Caring for Calendula Plants

Once your calendula plants are established in the garden, they require minimal care. Here are some tips to keep them healthy and thriving:

Watering

Water your calendula plants regularly, but avoid overwatering. Ensure the soil is well-drained and the plants don't sit in water.

Fertilizer

Fertilize your calendula plants every two to three weeks with a balanced fertilizer. Dilute the fertilizer to half-strength to avoid burning the plants.

Deadheading

Remove spent blooms regularly to encourage your calendula plants to produce more flowers.

Pest and Disease Control

Calendula plants are relatively pest and disease-resistant but can be affected by aphids, slugs, and snails. Check your plants regularly for signs of damage or infestation and take appropriate action, such as handpicking pests or using organic pest control methods.

Harvesting Calendula Flowers

Calendula flowers are a versatile and valuable addition to any garden. They can be used fresh or dried in various ways, from making tea to adding color to salads and soups. To harvest calendula flowers, wait until the blooms are open and vibrant. Use scissors to snip off the flower head just above the stem. Avoid harvesting more than one-third of the plant at a time, as this can stress the plant and affect its overall health.

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Using Calendula Flowers for Medicinal Purposes

Calendula flowers have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties. They contain anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial compounds, making them an excellent addition to salves, creams, and other topical treatments. To use calendula flowers for medicinal purposes, dry them thoroughly and use them in various DIY remedies or seek the guidance of a qualified herbalist.

Storing Calendula Seeds

If you're growing calendula from seed, storing your seeds properly is essential to ensure that they remain viable for future use. Once your flowers have wilted and died back, the seed heads will begin to dry and turn brown. Cut the seed heads off the plant and allow them to dry thoroughly before removing the seeds. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place in an airtight container or envelope labeled with the date and variety of sources.

Conclusion

Growing calendula from seed indoors is an easy and rewarding process that can provide you with a beautiful and beneficial addition to your garden. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully sow calendula seeds, care for young plants, and transplant them to the park, where they will attract pollinators and brighten up your outdoor space. With good drainage, regular watering, and care, your calendula plants can thrive and produce gorgeous flowers all season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When should I sow calendula seeds indoors?

A: You can start sowing calendula seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost in your area. This will give your seedlings enough time to grow and develop before they are transplanted outside.

Q: How many seeds should I sow per tray?

A: Calendula seeds are tiny and can be scattered thinly across the soil. Aim for a spacing of around 1 inch (2.5 cm) between each source to ensure the seedlings have enough room to grow.

Q: Do calendula plants prefer full sun or partial shade?

A: Calendula plants prefer full sun to partial shade. They will grow best in an area that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Q: How tall do calendula plants grow?

A: Calendula plants can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall and 12 inches (30 cm) wide. However, the height and width will depend on the variety and growing conditions.

Q: Can I grow calendula in containers?

A: Yes, calendula can be grown in containers if the container has good drainage and is large enough to accommodate the mature plant. Choose a pot at least 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) in diameter, and use a good-quality potting mix with added perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage.

Q: Are calendula plants easy to grow?

A: Yes, calendula is an easy-to-grow plant well-suited for beginner gardeners. It requires minimal care and is relatively pest and disease-resistant.

Q: Do calendula plants attract pollinators?

A: Yes, calendula plants attract pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. The bright orange and yellow flowers provide a valuable source of nectar and pollen for these essential insects.

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