Organic Emily

Growing and Using Medicinal Herbs: Calendula

Calendula Plant

Growing Calendula

This bright and cheery flower is a hardy long standing bloomer and very easy to grow!  My calendula has even continued to bloom after the first few snow falls!  It grows best in rich fertile soil, but will grow in poor soil too.  The more you pick the red, orange or golden flowers the more the plant will produce!  I usually let a few go to seed so I can save them and replant them again in the spring.  However,theyt will self sow very easily.  When the blossoms are ready to pick they have a sticky resin on the petals which contain anti-fungal properties.  Pick the flowers when the leaves are still slightly upright.  Calendula flowers make a good companion plant for broccoli and squash families keeping the pests away and attracting beneficial insects.

Medicinal Uses

Calendula promotes cell repair and growth, healing wounds when made into ointments or salves.  The flower is noted as antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.  It can be used topically or internally as a tea to keep infections at bay.  It’s a wonderful herb for babies as it is soothing and gentle and used for diaper rash, cradle cap and many other skin irritations including sores, burns and bruises.  The tea can also be used for treating gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers, cramps, indigestion and diarrhea.  It is also known to be one of the best herbs for nourishing and cleansing the lymphatic system.  It works to assist with moving congestion out of the body along with regular exercise.  Calendula has a perfect safety record with no toxicity reported.

 

Picked Calendula Flowers

Calendula is best harvested and dried to use in teas and salves.  Pick the flowers just as they open on a dry sunny day, the resin will be stronger and will leave a sticky film on your fingers.  Allow the flower to dry in a basket under the shade of a tree, on your counter top over a paper towel or on the lowest setting of your dehydrator.   Once dried you can make your own solar infused calendula oil.  Also be sure to let some go to seed so you can grow them again next year.  Simply allow the flower head to completely dry before harvesting seeds.  Keep them in a cool dry place inside a velum or paper envelope.

Calendula Oil

Calendula Oil

To make calendula oil fill a glass jar 3/4 full of dried flowers.  Fill the jar with olive oil to cover the buds by an inch and cover with a lid.  Place in a sunny, warm spot and let the herbs infuse from the sun for 3-4 weeks.  For double strength strain the oil and fill the jar again with more buds and put the oil back in the jar.  Start the process over again for another 3-4 weeks.  Once finished strain a last time and keep in a cool, dark place.  It will keep for a year in the refrigerator.   It can be massaged topically to the skin or can be made into a salve.

 

Calendula Salve

1 cup calendula salve

1/4 cup beeswax, grated

4-6 drops lavender essential oil

Warm the oil and beeswax over a very low heat until melted.  Check for consistency by dipping a spoon in the salve and placing in the freezer for a few minutes to see how it sets up.  If you want a firmer salve add more beeswax.  If you want it softer, add more oil.  Add the lavender essential oil which adds an antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties to the salve.  Mix quickly and pour into small jars or tins.  Let cool, put the lids on and storein a dark cool place.

To Use

Apply salve generously to treat skin rashes, wounds, cuts, diaper rashes or cradle cap.

Emily Saddler

Emily is a Master Gardener, wife of a professional landscape contractor, Mom of 4 cute kids, Yoga instructor and very passionate advocate of organic home-grown food! Emily maintains a blog called “The Organic Suburban Farm Girl” where she shares gardening advice, delicious recipes made with fresh, organic ingredients and her escapades as the keeper of both backyard chickens and honeybees!

Comments

  1. Leslie Rowe says:

    I saw you on studio 5 and became so interested in your stuff. I’ve started to gravitate to natural things to help me and my family. Thx,Leslie

    • organicemily says:

      Very cool to hear more and more people interested in natural methods to take care of their families! Thanks for your comment!

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