When I started gardening, much of my attention was focused on sustainability. In my small courtyard, I wanted to grow the garden as efficiently as possible, gradually introducing new plants that would be useful. Although the garden was mostly full of vegetables, there was always a flowering plant in the rows: calendula. Soon I would find out that my garden was full of herbs that served a purpose beyond the kitchen.
Uses of calendula
Also known as calendula, calendula should not be confused with flowers of the genus Tagetes (Marigolds). These cold season flowers bloom in colors ranging from bright yellow to vibrant orange. Although culinary uses for calendula abound in online recipes, this is not why 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 alleged ability of the flower petals to gently treat the skin has aroused my curiosity in wanting to explore these benefits further.
In addition to gardening, I have managed to become a passionate soap maker over the years. From lotions to shampoos, I’m not sure I remember the last time I bought something from the store. While many supplier companies offer dried calendula petals and extracts for use in home care products, I knew I would have preferred to grow my calendula in the garden.
Fortunately, these plants are extremely easy to grow. Depending on the growing area, calendula can be planted in the fall and wintered or sown directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring.
Use of calendula flowers for soap production
The relaxing calendula petals work exceptionally well in creating soothing and delicate bars of handmade soap. Depending on your skill level, there are many ways the plant can be incorporated into soap recipes. The use of calendula oil has long been one of my favorite techniques.
To infuse soap oils with calendula, the flower petals must dry completely. This reduces the possibility of oil being spoiled by excess moisture. After being stored for several weeks, the oil will be ready to be filtered and saponified (transformed into soap).
Although creating 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 United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Marigold 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 doctor or professional herbalist, especially if breastfeeding or pregnant.