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22.10.09

How To Collect Calendula Seeds

Calendula is sometimes called pot marigold but shouldn't be confused with Marigolds from the genus Tagets. Since they are in the Asteraceae family they also don't develop a single seed pod that makes collecting seeds extremely easy for the beginner gardener/seed saver among us, but the seeds are just as relatively easy to locate as the Marigold seeds.

Orange Calendula flower, How to collect calendula seeds


Calendula flowers can be yellow, white, orange or a combination of two colors-- like the calendula I spotted at the medicinal plant garden walk. The petals of the calendula surround many small "flowers" that are pollinated, from my observations in the garden, by small insects butterflies, moths and beetles.

Calendula seed head, how to collect calendula seedsThe petals around the tiny flowers are only there to help attract pollinators to the center of the bloom. After the flowers have been pollinated the petals will wither and fall, leaving just a button-like center comprised of numerous seeds. Each segment, marked with the arrow, is an individual seed.

Calendula seed heads how to collect calendula seedsThe seeds will fall off on their own, sometimes they stay on until they are brown and dried, and sometimes they fall while still green. The trick is to remove the seeds when the plant is ready to release them before wind, rain or garden critters do it for you. I do this by brushing the "button" with the pad of my thumb. Get a better idea of what I mean by watching the garden video below.

Dried calendula seeds, what do calendula seed look like?When dried, either on the plant or indoors by a gardener, calendula seeds look like this. They are brown, spiny and curled. Save some seeds from your plants to grow again in your garden next year or to share with gardening friends.

When I'm not actively harvesting calendula seeds and sowing them in the garden, they still come back because they're scattered around by birds. Most of the calendula I grow is located in the shadiest spot in my garden against the foundation of the house where it doesn't thrive, but blooms enough to keep it around.

Every year I tell myself I will grow it in the sunniest spots because it is a low-maintenance garden plant that blooms like crazy up until the first frost and sometimes beyond. We already had a light frost in the garden this year and just yesterday I spotted one of these plants blooming in the garden when I was collecting the calendula seeds pictured above.

20 comments:

  1. MrBT--I've said this before, but I really enjoy this series of posts. On the surface, seed collecting seems easy, but when you actually try it, you realize that (1) it is hard to identify the actual seed amid all the fluff, (2) it is hard to know when the seeds are ready to be collecting. Your photos and info are really helpful, I've learned a lot!

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  2. Thanks Fern.

    I do these because the first time I ever shared seeds with someone I ended up giving them nothing but chaff and not a seed in the batch. What looked like a seed to me turned out to be nothing but the fluff you mentioned.

    This is my way of broadcasting gardening knowledge that new gardeners need. Not everyone can afford to buy a book or mag to learn about this stuff.

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  3. Winters is the time for calendulas here. Got a few seedlings for my balcony, and I'll keep your post in mind when the season ends..thanks!

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  4. Hi Urban Green,

    Good luck with your seedlings this winter. I'll be adding the seed saving posts to the sidebar this fall/winter. So if you stop by again you should be able to find them.

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  5. What cute little dried worms!
    I'll add calendula to my ever-growing list of things to try growing. I don't like marigolds but I love orange flowers so this may be perfect!

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  6. The few summers I got to grow a herb garden at a friends the calendula always came back the next year (plus I'd buy more seedlings)so I never really paid attention to the seeds.

    The first time I did order the seeds I thought something was wrong with them ;).

    It is one of my favorite herbs, not only would I make oils and tinctures but drink the teas too.

    That's for this useful post ;)

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  7. You are such a good resource! Thanks for all the information you provide. :-) BTW, I've linked to you...
    http://yardisgreen.blogspot.com/2009/10/green-thumb-sunday-october-25-2009.html

    Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  8. lol Diane.

    C.McKane,

    Glad to hear that you're putting your plants to use in the garden besides them being just ornamental plants.

    Shady,

    Thanks for the compliment and for the link.

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  9. Calendulas are awesome. I have a fair bit of seed that I collected, but at this point they reseed so well that I just weed out the volunteers where I don't want them and I haven't sown any in a couple of years. Interestingly, my original seeds were supposedly blessed by an Indian guru, Amma, kind of funny. They grew well, so how can I to doubt the success of the blessing, but then on the other hand calendulas grow so well without a blessing, how will I ever know that it helped them grow. I suppose sunflower seeds and radishes and calendulas are wise choices for blessing, carrots or woolly blue curls not so wise. Anyways, cool post.

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  10. Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for the funny comment. I suppose the seeds you mentioned are pretty safe bets when blessing seeds. :)

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  11. Can you collect calendula seeds green before they are ripe & have them ripen before removing them from the stem. I know some seeds continue to ripen after you remove a stalk from the plant. curious?

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  12. @cijewell,

    I've collected some of them while they were still green seeds and I didn't observe that they germinated less than the brown, dry seeds.

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  13. Aren't calendula seeds the best? I love their shape and texture, and they're so easy to collect and handle. Noogie!

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  14. Hi My name's Rebekah, first time here ~
    I love calendula flowers, they are so vibrant and medicinal. This year I want to make a sun jar to extract the oils of the calendula flower in the peak of summer as well as save some seeds. loved the video-

    I have seeds from last year that I ordered from seeds of change but never planted them. Can I plant seeds from last year? What is the life span of calendula seeds? I also noticed the dried parts that curl which match your video which i will plant. But there are also littler black curls too. Are these another type of Calendula?

    Also Should I plant one seed per spot (planting in an egg carton to start the seeds) or can I add two or so? So excited to grow indoors now that Spring is here!

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  15. Monica, They are fun little seeds aren't they?

    Rebekah, They should last a couple of years. Go ahead and plant the calendula seeds you got last year. They're the same, probably just drier seeds than the rest. I usually will plant one or two seeds per pot, just in case one doesn't sprout.

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  16. Anonymous6:39 AM

    great video thanks

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  17. thanks,

    for the informative post, I enjoyed reading it.
    specially the marigold seed harvesting...

    I am looking forward to hear form you on nasturtium (my favorite :) )...
    :)

    Thanks again nick.. be happy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nick, I have a post here already on collecting nasturtium seeds http://mrbrownthumb.blogspot.com/2007/08/when-i-collect-nasturtium-seeds.html Check it out if you need information on how to collect nasturtium seeds. You can also use the search box and see the other posts I have here on nasturtiums.

      Delete
  18. Amazing resource! I keep coming back again and again!

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  19. So those are the seeds! I collected them but had some doubts. This was my first year growing calendula and I love the fiery orange flowers. What a great blog you have. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

Hi!

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