First, let’s clear some confusion. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a European native that often goes by its common name ‘pot marigold.’ However, the plant that goes by the common name ‘marigold’ (Tagetes spp.) is an entirely different plant that is often called ‘French Marigold’ despite being native to the Americas. Still confused? Here it is again:
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
- Often called ‘pot marigold’
- Native to Europe
- Useful herb
Marigold (Tagetes spp.)
- Often called ‘French Marigold’
- Native to the Americas
- Useful in the garden as a pest repellent but usually not considered edible
Both plants have showy flowers usually in loud oranges and yellows. The healing properties of calendula and how to make calendula salve are the focus of this article.
Calendula often blooms all year in Southern California. In cooler climates, grow calendula as an annual by allowing the plant to self-sow or by saving the seeds.
Calendula has been used for centuries to fight bacteria, heal wounds quickly, ease acne, tighten skin, soothe bee stings and eliminate rashes. The dried petals are used for creams, tinctures, salves and lotions (see below for a recipe on how to make calendula salve).
In addition to its medicinal uses, calendula can be sprinkled on salads, soups or used to add color to butter and sauces. The flavor varies from slightly bitter to peppery. Some compare it to saffron giving it the title “poor man’s saffron.”
In the garden, calendula repels many common garden pests including aphids and tomato hornworms.
How to Make Calendula Salve
Use this healing salve on cuts, bruises, bee stings, rashes, dry skin, acne and other skin ailments.
- Dry calendula petals. I do this by laying them out on a clean surface in a warm dry room. After about 1 week they should be completely dry.
- Put ½ cup of dried petals in a clean, dry jar with 8 oz. of extra virgin olive oil (it is important for your flower petals to be completely dried as well as your jar to be dry, otherwise the oil will go rancid).
- Close the jar and let it sit on a sunny windowsill for about 4 weeks.
- Strain the oil through cheesecloth into a clean jar.
*Heat Method: The above method is preferred as it maintains more of the calendula’s healing properties but if you are short on time you can use the heat method. Place the calendula petals and olive oil in a crockpot or double boiler and heat on low for three hours. Strain the oil through cheesecloth.
Make the Calendula Salve
- Coarsely chop the beeswax if using the bar form (or use pastilles that do not have to be chopped).
- Heat the calendula olive oil and beeswax in a double boiler.
- Remove from heat and stir in the lavender essential oil if using.
- Pour into tin or glass containers and allow to cool (it will solidify when cooled).
*Dedicate a pot and stirring stick (I use a wooden chop stick) to beeswax projects. This saves you from an afternoon of scraping dried beeswax off of your cookware.
Click on the image below to purchase calendula seeds.