by Lily Yee
Calendula is one of many floral plants grown in our school gardens, as well as on our rooftop garden at Daniels Spectrum. In my opinion, it resembles a combination of daisies and marigolds. It has yellow and/or orange petals and stands between 1 -2 feet in height. It is a low maintenance plant, that can be planted indoors or out, in the sun or part shade, and is drought and frost tolerant. These plants are the great for kids as their germination period is only 1 – 2 weeks and the more they are harvested; the more flowers bloom. They also self-seed prolifically in our downtown Toronto gardens. There’s always a flower, a bud, and a seedhead – all phases of flowering – visible on the mature plant. Pollinators love this flower!
Not only is calendula a pretty plant, it also has many medicinal benefits such as: reducing inflammation, healing wounds, and preventing infections due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Good for so many kinds of skin boo-boos! Here at Green Thumbs, our students not only plant calendula but harvest the petals to be used for calendula oil production for eventual sale. Calendula petals are harvested, dried, then soaked in sunflower oil, extracted, bottled and labeled for sale at farmers markets in the Regent Park and Cabbagetown areas, along with vegetables, fruits and herbs grown in our school gardens. Students are able to see the full lifecycle of calendula from seed to sales, learning entrepreneurial skills along the way.
Molly Tarsey, a 2019-2020 placement student, squeezing calendula oil for salve.
The first time I learned about calendula was from a naturopathic doctor. At the time, I was seeking an alternative to steroid ointments to assist with healing of a few scars on my legs caused by an allergic reaction. She suggested an ointment containing calendula to be applied to the affected area morning and night. At first, I was skeptical as I didn’t see immediate results within the first few weeks and being used to the instant relief that medicinal ointments containing steroids provide. It wasn’t until using half the tube of ointment I noticed the scarring was less noticeable, the texture of my skin was now less uneven and the hyperpigmentation decreased dramatically.
If you’re interested in purchasing a bottle of calendula oil or salve made by our students, please contact us for more information.
To read more about plants with healing properties in our school gardens see the following link here:
Let us know what your favourite uses of calendula are in the comments below.