Calendula Companion Plants: Unleashing Nature’s Best Kept Secret

Imagine a vibrant, golden flower that not only adds a splash of color to your garden but also plays a crucial role in its health and productivity. Welcome to the world of calendula, a flower that’s more than just a pretty face. 

This versatile plant, also known as pot marigold, is a secret weapon for any gardener, offering a natural way to deter pests, attract pollinators, and boost your garden’s overall vitality through calendula companion plants.

Companion planting is a gardening strategy that pairs different species, allowing one plant to benefit from the other’s unique characteristics. With its bright blooms and beneficial properties, calendula is a star player in this arena, making it an excellent companion for various edible and ornamental plants.

Get to Know the Calendula Flower

Calendula officinalis flower

With its sunny yellow and orange blooms, calendula brings warmth and vibrancy to any garden. This hardy annual thrives with minimal fuss, flowering non-stop from spring through the first fall frost in most climates.

Though native to the Mediterranean region, calendula can adapt to various conditions. It grows quickly from seed and reaches maturity within two months. You’ll be greeted with the first bright blossoms shortly after germination.

Choose a site with full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours of daily sunlight) and fertile, well-draining soil. Your soil should be neutral or slightly acidic (between 6.0 and 7.0 on the pH scale) for the best results.

While drought tolerant when established, calendula benefits from regular watering as roots develop after planting. Shelter seedlings if temperatures dip below 50°F.

Deadheading spent blooms encourage a steady display of flowers. And don’t let those faded blossoms go to waste! The mild, peppery petals liven up salads or add color as a garnish. Extract the bright orange and yellow pigments to naturally dye fabrics and foods.

Beyond beauty, calendula flowers, leaves, and oil have a long history of use for their anti-inflammatory and wound-healing powers. A calendula-infused ointment can soothe minor cuts, burns, and irritation.

With minimal fuss, calendula provides colorful blossoms for cutting, health benefits, and months of garden cheer. It’s a great annual to plant alongside spring bulbs and other summer annuals.

What are the benefits of companion planting? 

When we think of a traditional garden, we think of flowers and vegetables lined up in neat rows by species and variety. However, that’s not the way plants grow in nature. 

It’s also, quite frankly, a waste of space. Fill the gaps in your garden with a carefully cultivated selection of companion plants to keep weeds out and shade the soil for better moisture retention. 

Companion planting helps mimic natural environments more closely and allows one species to benefit from its neighbor’s natural qualities. Combining different species encourages beneficial insects and microorganisms to move in and creates a more resilient garden ecosystem. 

For example, all plants rely on pollinators like bees and butterflies. However, these insects are more attracted to brightly colored flowers than your vegetables. Adding flowers to your vegetable garden can help ensure pollinators stop by. 

Some plants’ root systems are perfect breeding grounds for nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These bacteria pull nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form the plant can feed on. 

If you plant a nitrogen-fixing plant, such as a legume, next to a plant that needs a lot of nitrogen, like a tomato, you’ll help enrich the soil and encourage more abundant growth. 

You can also use fragrant herbs to prevent pests from eating other plants. The scent of peppermint repels most insects. Interplanting peppermint plants between vegetables can help ensure the bugs don’t get to feast on your garden before you do. 

Quick Glance: Calendula Companion Plants

Calendula Companion PlantBenefits When Planted with Calendula
Potatoes, StrawberriesDeters common pests (root-knot nematodes, rabbits, potato beetles, slugs, spider mites, and thrips). Helps prevent blemished potatoes. Attracts pollinators.
Corn, Carrots, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Squash, Melons, Salad Greens, PeppersDeters aphids and several types of beetles.
Geraniums, Lavender, Salvia, RosesComplementary growing conditions and aesthetics. Geraniums and Lavender also repel slugs. Salvia provides height contrast in the garden. Roses offer a wide array of color combinations.
Remember, while calendula is beneficial to many plants, it may not be suitable for all. For instance, it can stunt the growth of beans and may attract pests that target cabbage, broccoli, woody trees, and most fruits besides strawberries.

What should you interplant with calendula? 

Calendula is a beneficial companion plant for several reasons. 

First, its heavy floral scent can cover the smell of neighboring vegetables and discourage rabbits and rodents. It also releases chemicals into the soil that keep parasitic microorganisms, like nematodes (roundworms), away. 

Finally, their eye-catching petals are incredibly attractive to butterflies and bees. 

Calendula Companion Fruit and Vegetable Plants

Interplanting calendula with your fruits and vegetables is a great way to protect them from pests without chemical pesticides and may help produce higher-quality plants. 

Potatoes do well when paired with calendula. First, both plants thrive in full sun. Calendula releases compounds into the soil, repelling root-knot nematodes and preventing blemished potatoes. It also repels rabbits and potato beetles. 

Calendula is also a fantastic complement to strawberries. Both plants are susceptible to similar pests, including slugs, spider mites, and thrips. However, the brilliant flowers of the calendula attract pollinators like bees and hoverflies. 

Not only do these insects help pollinate both plants, but they also eat the pests that prey on them. 

Calendula deters aphids (including corn leaf aphids) and several types of beetles, including flea beetles, squash beetles, and cucumber beetles. 

Corn, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, squash, melons, salad greens, and peppers will all benefit from sharing a planting bed with calendula. 

Other Flowers 

Calendula can also be interplanted with other flowers. However, the considerations will be slightly different. 

When interplanting calendula with other flower species, you don’t need to focus so much on repelling pests or attracting pollinators. Growing conditions are one of the most important things to consider when choosing which flowers to use as a companion plant for calendula. 

You’ll want to find flowers that thrive in similar soil, sunlight, and watering conditions. After that, aesthetics are the second most important consideration. When creating a flower garden, you want all your plants to look good together!

An easy companion plant for calendula, especially if you’re a beginner gardener, are geraniums. Both flowers require full sun and are relatively low-maintenance plants for beginners. 

The pinks and purples of the geraniums are a beautiful complement to calendula’s oranges and golds. Plus, the calendula can help repel slugs that eat geraniums. You might use both geraniums and calendula as companion plants in your vegetable garden.

Lavender and calendula are another great paring, especially if you are using them as companion plants to each other and your vegetables. 

Both flowers are relatively tall and can create a protective barrier over your vegetables. Lavender is a hearty flower that can thrive in almost any soil with little effort, and the soft purple contrasts the calendula’s more vibrant hues. 

Plant salvia with your calendula if you want a greater height contrast in your garden. Salvia is taller than calendula at nearly 2 feet tall, so you can use their violet blooms as a background and put your calendula front and center. 

Finally, you can never go wrong with roses. Roses are available in almost every color and include two-toned varieties, allowing you to create an unlimited array of colorful combinations in your flower garden.

Are there any plants I shouldn’t plant with calendula?

While calendula is a versatile plant that can benefit many other species in your garden, it’s not the best companion for every plant. For example, the roots of your calendula plant can stunt the growth of your beans. Because calendula needs a lot of sunshine, planting it under a shady tree can hinder its growth. 

Calendula is usually employed as a companion plant because it helps repel pests. But in some cases, calendula is more attractive to pests than its vegetable companions. 

This may spare your vegetables at the expense of your flowers. Cabbage, broccoli, woody trees, and most fruits besides strawberries can attract pests that will ravage your calendula. 

Is Calendula the same as Marigolds?

Marigold vs calendula flower

Calendula is often confused with marigolds, but they are actually different types of plants. Though both have similar bright yellow and orange flowers, calendula is part of the Asteraceae family while marigolds belong to Tagetes. They have different growth habits and uses as well.

One key difference is that calendula is edible, with petals adding color and subtle flavor to dishes.

Marigold petals and leaves should not be eaten. In terms of uses, calendula has a long history in herbal medicine thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Its flowers and oil are used to make ointments, teas, and cosmetics.

Meanwhile, marigolds are more well-known as ornamental garden plants or popular flowers to include in celebrations for Dia de los Muertos.

To learn more about distinguishing between these two sunny plants, check out this guide comparing calendula vs marigold traits. It covers tips on identification, growing conditions, and using each flower type.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.