Plant breeders have managed to create a world-first pure white English marigold! Even more interesting is the seeming colour change of the flowers - petals have a yellow underside and show that colour while in bud. As the flowers open the white topside is revealed, surrounding a large brown or yellow central eye. Each luxurious, semi-double flower reaches 7.5cm (3in) across. Scatter the seeds as an easy gap filler or create large swathes by covering whole beds or borders with seed. Enjoy flowers in as little 10 weeks from sowing.
Culinary note: Some parts of these flowers are edible. The light peppery taste of the flowers can be added to breads for extra flavour with a touch of colour. Calendula petals can also be used as a substitute for saffron when colouring rice dishes. For more details about edible flowers click here.
Sow calendula seeds outdoors where they are to grow from April to May. Choose a position in full sun on well drained soil which has been raked to a fine tilth. Sow seeds thinly, at a depth of 1cm (1/2") in drills spaced 30cm (12") apart and cover seed with its own depth of soil to exclude light. Water the ground regularly, especially during dry periods. Germination usually takes 5-10 days. When calendula seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them out to 30cm (12") apart.
Alternatively, sow indoors from March to April at a temperature of 18-23C (65-73F). When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant and grow them on in cooler conditions until large enough to plant outdoors. For winter or early spring flowering, sow calendula in late summer or early autumn and grow plants on in a cool greenhouse or conservatory.
Copyright © Thompson & Morgan, 2004-2016. All rights reserved.