Calendula officinalis Family - Asteraceae
Marigolds, native to southern Europe and flowering from early summer to late autumn and self-sows easily in spring.
The bright orange variety has most value, but there are many others, all with round daisy heads and petals varying from pale yellow to deep orange. Pleasantly fragrant flowers with often aromatic leaves. The long, rounded leaves are pale green and clasp the downy stems, which grow about 50cm high.
Marigold is an annual, though the plant occasionally survives the winter in a sheltered position.
Flowering Season - Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring
Care - The flowering season is prolonged when old flower heads are removed. Grow in sun or partial shade and well-drained soil.
Problems - No commonly known to have to serious insect problems. Susceptible to powdery mildew in tropical or costal areas. Watch for slugs and snails, particularly on young plants. Aphids and whiteflies are occasional visitors.
Culinary Use - The petals give a piquant, distinctive flavour to salads, cheese, soups and stews. They are often used liked saffron, soaked in water or milk, than added to rice, cakes and puddings to colour them yellow.