Summer is the perfect time of the year for growing and harvesting one of my favorite herbs, Calendula. Also known as Pot Marigold, the petals of this herb are known for their calming, anti-inflammatory and skin-healing properties. Calendula is gentle enough to be used in lotions, creams, soaps and balms for all skin types–even in children’s formulas. Calendula can be infused into olive oil (or other carrier oil) and it’s properties are then available for use in the preparations of skin care products. In the past this infused oil was used alone to heal minor cuts and skin ailments.
Calendula is my personal go-to herb for adding to my herbal goats’ milk soaps and healing balms. It is easy to grow from seed and readily self-seeds after flowering ensuring a continued supply. It is available in a wide variety of colors (from seed) but it is difficult to find fully-grown plants. Available colors range from deep orange and bright yellow to pink or white. All colors will brighten a sunny border in your yard.
To use Calendula for body care products, the petals should be dried first to ensure the potency of the herb. Pick off the petals (if you want to save the seeds) and dry them in a dark, well-ventilated area on a drying rack or screen. The flowers can also be cut (with 3-4 inches of stem) and dried after they brighten up your table or desk. Place the cut flowers in a small vase of water and enjoy their sunny faces until the petals start to fall. At that time, trim the stems back to the flower and dry as above. Once dried, the petals are then ready to be infused into any number of healing body care products or used in a favorite potpourri blend. In addition, the fresh petals are actually edible and can be added to your favorite summer-time dish.
It is amazing to me how such a seemingly simple herb can have so many uses. Uses that help to heal the body and spirit. Pluck a Calendula flower from the garden and touch it to your cheek. The softness will transport you to a simpler time and you will see what I mean!