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Growing Calendula From a Crack in the Pavement

I love pottering in the greenhouse and garden and listening to classic rock with my Labradoodle, Florrie.

One late summer morning, Florrie Labradoodle and I headed out towards local fields for our usual daily walk. As we wander along through our housing estate towards the fields, we always look at the plants and flowers that are looking spectacular in our neighbours front gardens to get ideas to improve our own display. That day we noticed a plant growing in a crack in the pavement. It seemed to be growing from between the tarmac and the bricks in a driveway. Not only was it growing well, it also had some big yellow flower heads! I took a photo of the plant so I could do some research when we were back at home. We found that it was a Calendula (otherwise known as “pot marigold” or “common marigold”).

growing-calendula-from-a-crack-in-the-pavement
Florrie on her walk

Florrie on her walk

South Facing Gardens

Our garden faces south. In mid summer it can become a hot, dry habitat for plants. There is not much rain and many plants struggle in the conditions. Yet here was a plant that seemed to be thriving in a soilless and waterless tarmac world!

My research informed me that the calendula plant has been around for thousands of years. it seems to originate from the Mediterranean region and be popular in many areas of the world with a warm climate. There are even mentions of the ancient Romans growing it!

growing-calendula-from-a-crack-in-the-pavement

Harvesting Seed

As calendula flowers die back, they produce a seed head like a big circular disc. So on my walk with Florrie a couple of weeks later, I picked one of the seed heads to store over winter. I kept it in a small brown paper bag in a cool, dry place until the following Spring. I wrote the name of the plant on the paper bag so I would remember what it was several months later!
I thought that if a calendula could grow well in a crack in the pavement then maybe it could do the same in my hot dry garden! This experiment would be repeating the cycle of how this little plant had been had been grown, had its seed harvested, over-wintered and grown again the following Spring for centuries!

Calendula seed head

Calendula seed head

More about Calendulas

Calendulas are much more than a bright colourful flower in the garden. The dye from their flowers has been used for centuries for colouring fabrics, cosmetics and foods such as cheese. It has been used as a saffron substitute. The petals can be dried and a oil produced which allegedly reduces inflammation and heals skin wounds.

Calendula seedlings

Calendula seedlings

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Growing from Seed

The following Spring, the calendula seed head had thoroughly dried out. I was able to break up the head carefully with my fingers so that I had around 15 individual seeds to plant. I lightly covered them with compost in a seed tray in the greenhouse. I gave them some water and waited excitedly for something to happen. Within a week, a few seeds were already sprouting. A couple of weeks later I had a full tray of healthy looking seedlings!

Planting Out in Pots

Planting Out in Pots

Planting Out

The rest was quite straightforward. When the calendula seedlings were large enough and had several leaves I transferred them to their permanent homes for the summer! Some I grew in pots and some I placed directly into the flower borders. Unlike some marigolds, the slugs and snails left them alone! I kept them well-watered initially until they were established and growing strongly.

Planting out in borders

Planting out in borders

Success!

It has been quite a hot spring this year but my calendulas have enjoyed it! Within a couple of weeks the first flower buds were forming. Then, a few days later, the blooms were open. They were a vibrant yellow, just like the original plant growing that I found growing in the pavement In the previous year! With regular dead heading, I am sure they will flower all summer! Hopefully, I will be growing them for a few more summers too - as long as I remember to harvest more seed heads!

growing-calendula-from-a-crack-in-the-pavement

The Cycle Continues

Funnily enough, Florrie and I were out for our walk this week and we saw more calendula plants flowering close to the same crack in the pavement as last year! Everything has come full circle!

growing-calendula-from-a-crack-in-the-pavement

3 Year Update

It is now 3 years since I first grew my harvested calendula seeds. They are now well-established in my garden and happily self-seed each year. Every Spring I recognise their first leaves appearing in the flower borders. This gives me the opportunity to keep those growing in suitable empty spots and take out those where there is overcrowding of plants. Some of the seedlings I put in little pots of soil and grow them on for a few weeks to share with friends and neighbours!

Seed Growing Survey

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 11, 2019:

The flowers in the pavement have a very cheerful colour. It was nice to see a photo of them in your garden as well. The combination of yellow and pink flowers is lovely.

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