Have you ever wondered how to keep your garden blooming with the vibrant colors of calendula year after year? The secret lies in the seeds.
Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is a self-seeding annual flower that offers a plethora of benefits for you, your garden, and your health. But the magic truly unfolds when you learn to harvest and store its seeds.
By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to cultivate a perpetual garden of calendula, reaping its healing benefits for years to come.
Quick Guide: How To Harvest Calendula Seeds
To harvest calendula seeds, wait until the flower heads turn brown and dry out at the end of the growing season. Gently brush the dried seeds with your thumb; if they detach easily, they’re ready. Store the fully dried seeds in a breathable container in a cool and dark location to help maintain their viability.
Before we delve into the harvesting process, it’s essential to understand what makes calendula a unique plant.
Calendula is a companion plant for almost all garden crops, and it’s a medicinal aromatic with many healing, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
The seeds are easy to collect, and the plant is generous in its bloom production, especially when you pick the blossoms frequently.
The Right Time For Harvesting Calendula Seeds
Timing is essential when collecting calendula seeds. During the growing season, pick most of the flowers. Which tells the plant to produce more blooms. But at the end of the season, allow some flowers to stay on the plant. The plant needs time to focus energy on forming seeds, not just flowers.
After a week or two, check the flowers you left on the plant. You will see the flower head changing shape as the seeds start developing.
Tiny green half-moon shapes will form – those are the immature seeds. Please don’t pick them yet! Wait until the flowers seed heads turn completely brown and dry out. That is when the calendula seeds are ready for harvesting.
Letting the seeds fully mature on the plant ensures the highest quality. With patience, you’ll be rewarded with a bountiful calendula seed harvest.
Harvesting the Seeds
Harvest the seeds when the plant is ready to release them, before wind, rain, or they fall off alone.
You can do this by brushing the dried seeds using your thumb. Brush over the seed head lightly to see if the seeds feel loose. They will literally break right off the seed head.
They are not ready if they don’t come off on their own. You shouldn’t need to tug on them to get them off.
Storing Calendula Seeds
Properly storing your harvested calendula seeds is crucial to maintaining viability and preventing mold growth.
The key is ensuring seeds are fully dry before storing them. Start by spreading seeds on coffee filters or mesh screens in a single layer.
Allow them to dry for 1-2 weeks, frequently checking to see if the seeds are brittle and fracture easily. If you pinch a seed between your fingers and it still bends without cracking, it needs more drying time.
Once seeds are fully dry, store them in breathable containers like paper envelopes or cloth bags. Glass jars also work well.
The container should be placed in a cool, dark location like a cupboard or refrigerator. Avoid warm, humid areas like the kitchen. The ideal storage temperature is around 40°F.
Why breathable containers? They allow excess moisture to escape while plastic bags or airtight lids trap humidity. Any residual moisture risks mold taking hold and ruining your harvested seeds.
The refrigerator or freezer are best for long-term storage lasting over a year. Calendula seeds remain viable at room temperature for 1-2 years before their germination rate drops off.
Refrigeration can extend viability to 3-4 years when stored correctly. The freezer allows seeds to last for 4 years or longer while preserving vigor.
Keeping seeds dry is the golden rule, regardless of where you store them.
Proper harvesting techniques and storage in a cool, moisture-controlled environment allow you to easily save calendula seeds from season to season.
Final Thoughts: Flowers Forever
By following these steps, you can ensure a continuous supply of calendula seeds for your garden.
Not only will you enjoy the vibrant colors and healing benefits of calendula in your garden and home, but you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve mastered the art of harvesting calendula seeds.
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.