When I first started gardening, much of my focus was on sustainability. In my small yard, I wanted to grow the most efficient garden possible, gradually introducing new plants that would be useful. Though the garden was mostly filled with vegetables, there was one flowering plant always included amongst the rows – calendula. Soon, I would find that my garden was filled with herbs that served a purpose beyond the kitchen.
Uses of Calendula
Also known as pot marigold, calendula should not be confused with flowers of the genus Tagetes (marigolds). These cool season flowers bloom in colors ranging from bright yellow to vibrant orange. Though culinary uses for calendula abound in recipes online, this is not the reason that I was initially attracted to the plant. Many herbalists agree that the use of calendula, in various applications, has a long medicinal history. In fact, the flower petals’ purported ability to gently treat skin sparked my curiosity in wanting to explore these benefits further.
In addition to gardening, I have managed to become an avid soap maker over the years. From lotions to shampoos, I’m not sure if I can remember the last time I purchased anything from the store. While many supply companies offer dried calendula petals and extracts for use in home skincare products, I knew that I would prefer to grow my own calendula in the garden.
Fortunately, these plants are extremely easy to grow. Depending on your growing zone, calendula can be planted in the fall and overwintered or directly sown into the garden as soon as soil can be worked in the spring.
Using Calendula Flowers for Soapmaking
Soothing calendula petals work exceptionally well in crafting calming, gentle bars of handmade soap. Depending on your skill level, there are a multitude of ways the plant can be incorporated into soap recipes. The use of calendula infused oil has long been one of my favorite techniques.
To infuse soapmaking oils with calendula, the flower petals need to completely dry. This reduces the chance that the oil becomes spoiled from excess moisture. After storing for several weeks, the oil will be ready to be strained and saponified (turned into soap).
Though crafting new self-care products from the garden is exciting, it is important to note that the medicinal uses of calendula have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Calendula is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Those wishing to explore potential uses of calendula should consult a physician or professional herbalist, especially if nursing or pregnant.