This Mediterranean native is a popular source of sure, easy color in the cooler monthsfrom late fall through spring in the Lower, Coastal, and Tropical South; from spring to early summer in the Upper and Middle South. Daisylike double blossoms, 212412 in. wide, come not only in the familiar orange and bright yellow, but also in more subtle shades of apricot, cream, and soft yellow. The plant is somewhat branching, reaching 12 ft. high, 1112 ft. wide. Leaves are long and narrow, with rounded ends; they are aromatic and slightly sticky. Plants attract butterflies but are not browsed by deer. Calendulas are effective for masses of bright, warm color in borders, along drives, or in containers; they make long-lasting cut flowers. In the past, the leaves and flowers went into vegetable stewshence the common name pot marigold. The vivid petals are still popular today for the tangy flavor they bring to salads and cooked dishes; if simmered with rice, they lend a saffron color to the grain.
Sow seed in place in the garden or in flatsin late summer or early fall in mild-winter areas, in spring elsewhere. Or buy seedlings at garden centers. Plant adapts well to most soils if drainage is fast. Remove spent flowers to prolong bloom.
Dwarf strains (1215 in.) include Bon Bon (earliest) and Fiesta (Fiesta Gitana). Taller (1122 ft.) are Flashback (orange, peach, apricot, or yellow with red or maroon reverse), Kablouna (pompon centers with looser edges), Pacific Beauty, and Radio (quilled, cactus-type blooms).