Don’t miss growing this old-fashioned favorite.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go plant shopping at a local nursery with a friend and we stumbled upon the humble Calendula officinalis plant. She had never heard of it, probably because it is hard to find at nurseries. It has such wonderful healing properties, that I convinced her to purchase a start. Maybe you haven’t heard of calendula either.
Calendula is an old herb. cultivated in medieval gardens. It was brought to the new world for its medicinal and culinary properties. It’s so old in fact that nurseries seem to think it’s gone out of fashion, which is why you will seldom find a plant to purchase.
It is an annual plant, easily grown from seed. As a matter of fact, when you start a calendula garden it will self-seed each year. Perhaps that’s why it’s seldom sold anymore.
Calendula is a cool weather crop. You’ll sow seeds in ordinary garden soil or in a pot in the spring. It will take full sun or partial shade. Plants bloom in leaner soils, so there is no need to fertilize.
Dried petals can be infused in oil and used to treat injuries to the skin. It was used to lighten blonde hair and was added to soup, stews, and cheese. They call it the working man’s saffron.
- Learn how to make Calendula Oil in this post from PreparednessMama
- Fill a jar 3/4 of the way with freshly picked calendula flower buds
- Cover the flower buds with olive oil
- Place it in a warm, sunny spot for 3 weeks
- Strain the buds through cheesecloth, getting out as much oil as you can
- Place it in a clean bottle, out of direct sunlight. It will store for at least one year
This salve combines many powerful healing herbs that will aid in soothing sore muscles and healing bones. It is especially effective on sports injuries and Annie has used it with great results on her 86 year old grandmother who has a lot of back and hip pain. She would go to her home every night and rub this salve on her grandmother’s back and hips to help her get to sleep and ease her pain, she says it helps a lot.
Do you have dry, cracked hands in the winter? Calendula has marvelous skin healing properties and Calendula tea in combination with healing salve can make a world of difference. Here’s another salve recipe for you to try.
An alternative to making a salve is a DIY sugar scrub. It has all the same properties as infused oil or salve, but it’s much easier to make. The coconut and other oils help soothe dry skin as the sugar and salt help remove the dead cells from the surface of the body.
Use boiling water method with dried flowers: Place about a tablespoon of dried calendula flowers in a heat-proof mug and pour boiling water over them. Cover with a saucer and let steep for around 15 to 20 minutes.
Boiling water method with fresh flowers: Fill a heat-proof jar with fresh flowers and pour boiling water over them. Cap and let infuse until the tea is cool enough to drink.
Sun tea method: Fill a jar with fresh flowers (or 1/4 full with dried flowers) and cover with water. Cap and place out in the sun for at least 5 or 6 hours.
Making a tincture is another excellent way to use and preserve calendula flowers. To learn how to make a tincture and the proper dosages, visit Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth. Jes makes them with either an alcohol or vinegar base.
This tincture can be used in salves or applied to bites, itches, stings and/or diluted with water as a sore throat gargle. According to the Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs, calendula tincture can be used as “an effective mouthwash against gum infections and mouth ulcers and also as a topical anti-fungal agent for some skin conditions”. A soaked dressing in calendula tincture can also be applied to help heal leg ulcers.
I wonder if it would help with fire ant bites? Hum…
I encourage you to purchase calendula when you see it in the garden center or find a source for seeds. The healing properties of Calendula officinalis make it an excellent addition to your herb garden. In fact, I don’t think your herb garden is complete without it.