Yellow Flowers

Save Money and Harvest Calendula Seeds

There are so many benefits to adding Calendula in your garden including saving money on seeds. If your on a budget, ordering seeds can can get expensive really fast. Fortunately, harvesting Calendula seeds takes only a few minutes out of your day and you can collect as many as you want. All you have to do is pick the seed head, dry it and store it in a paper envelope. And you don’t need a lot of seed heads to yield the same amount of seeds you’d get if you ordered them online.

In this post, we will explore in more detail how to harvest Calendula seeds, store them and different ways to plant the seed the following spring.

Table of Contents

What is Pot Marigold?

Pot Marigold is a common name that refers to Calendula officinalis. Tagetes is the marigold variety we often see in plant centers. It’s really important that we make this distinction because it’s so confusing for people new to gardening.

Common marigolds don’t have the skin care properties that the Calendula plant has. It’s easy to to learn how to dry Calendula flowers. Both plants have an important function in backyard gardens. To learn more about those benefits of Calendula to your garden and how to use Calendula, click here.

Harvesting Calendula seeds can be done at the same time as harvesting the flowers.

Where are the seeds on a Calendula plant?

When a Calendula plant blooms, it is usually just for a day or two. If you’re collecting the flowers, this is a plant where you have to be vigilant during it’s bloom time. Plan on checking your Calendula plants daily to get the most blooms.

After it blooms, the flower naturally dries up on the plant and develops the seed head on the outer layer. Each seed looks like the letter “C”. I’ve read online that you can get 10-20 seeds from one flower. I’m not sure what variety they are growing but from my personal experience, it’s more like 5-10 seeds per flower.

When should I harvest Calendula seeds?

You can begin to harvest your seeds when your Calendula plant starts blooming.

If you live in a colder region like I do, you’ll either sow the seed directly in the ground after the danger of frost has passed…mid-May. If that’s the case, you can expect to see your Calendula blooming by July and it continues to bloom into October until a heavy frost.

If that time frame won’t produce enough flowers and seeds for you, then consider starting Calendula seeds indoors so you can have a longer harvest time.

TIP: Calendula blooms more frequently during hot weather. As the weather gets cold, the blooming frequency slows down too. Knowing this can help you decided whether or not you want to start Calendula seeds indoors.

How to harvest Calendula seeds?

I have collected seed heads and flowers both in the morning and in the evening. I prefer to collect them in the afternoon/evening time frame for a couple of reasons:

  1. The morning dew makes drying time longer for both the flowers and seed heads.
  2. There are more blooms to collect after a sunny day. Blooms will begin opening up in the late morning with the warmth of the sun.

Tip: If your schedule gets busy over a period of time or you go on vacation, then plan for that time frame to be the time that you collect the seed heads instead of blooms. Because Calendula is so consistent with it’s blooming frequency, taking a minute to compare your schedule can help you get the most of your harvest.

Allow the seed heads and flowers to dry on a metal cookie sheet. I have a cat so I like to place the cookie sheet up high where my cat can’t reach it. I like to give both a solid week to dry before storing them to prevent any mold from ruining them.

This photo has both Calendula flower heads and seed heads that were harvested at the same time. They are drying on a metal cookie tray.

Can you save green Calendula seeds?

This is such a great question. Ideally, you want to pick the seed head when it’s more brown. I have accidentally picked a few green seed heads and I put it with the others to dry fully. But I can’t honestly say whether or not it germinated because I direct sow my Calendula seeds in my garden. I can’t remember which was which weeks later. I also couldn’t find a definitive answer in Google either. This would be a great experiment to do in the future so stay tuned.

Do Calendula self seed?

Do Calendula self-seed? This is such a great question. This may depend on the region you are. I am in Zone 6 where we have very cold winters and I can tell you that none of my Calendula seeds that I didn’t collect germinated from being exposed to the winter. This motivates me to collect as many Calendula seeds as I need for the next year.

How can I store Calendula seeds?

You don’t need to break the bank to store your seeds. Harvest Calendula seeds, dry and store them in a mailing envelope in a dark, dry place where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate. You can easily handle them because they are a bigger size seed compared to tiny seeds like turnip seeds are.

Calendula seeds don’t need to be stored in the freezer either. In Zone 6 where the temperatures drop to freezing, the seeds that I may have missed and drop to the ground don’t self seed. Based on that, I wouldn’t recommend freezing them.

How do I grow Calendula from seed?

I don’t know about you but I get so excited to plant the Calendula seeds I collected the previous year. If you have the means to start seeds from indoors, then you can start the seeds 3-4 weeks from the frost date.

What I love about Calendula seeds is that they are low maintenance. What do I mean by that? Some seeds need to be soaked in water before sowing due to a hard coating on the outside. Morning Glory seeds are a good example of this. These seeds need to be soaked overnight to 24 hours to break down that outer shell. If you do have hard shell seeds, click here is a step by step process.

Growing Calendula from seed is as simple as it gets. Either you pop them in a seed starter tray or directly in the ground like I do.

When do you plant harvested Calendula seeds?

This has just been my own personal experience but my seedlings struggled most of the season when I started them indoors. I had a much better harvest when I direct sowed them mid-May which is Zone 6’s frost date.

It’s also important to add that when I tried to succession plant my Calendula after my spring harvest was done, they started blooming in late September so I had a tight window of opportunity to harvest the flowers and harvest Calendula seeds.

They did well in both raised beds and in the main garden. Keeping all this in mind and considering the amount of space I have to work with, I direct sow my Calendula in the main garden as early as possible to capitalize on all of the benefits.

What is the Calendula germination time?

It takes anywhere between 1-2 months for a Calendula plant to start producing flowers. When I direct sow them in my main garden in Mid-May, I usually see flowers closer to 2 months which is about mid-July. During the summer, I will be collecting blooms almost daily. The bloom are short lived…meaning a bloom will last one day, maybe two days. It’s a very short window of opportunity to collect the flowers.

They may bloom as long as into the beginning of October but the frequency of blooming slows down by September when the temps start dropping. Keep this in mind when anticipating how many blooms and seeds you want to collect.

Calendula plants come in different shades of yellow and orange with different textures.

Harvesting Calendula Seeds Time Saving Tip

Calendula flowers are forgiving. If you miss the short window of blooming time to collect the flowers, don’t stress. Those are the flowers that you can let go to seed. They are green in the beginning so wait several days for them to turn khaki color before harvesting the seeds. I would end up with 5-7 seeds per flower.

After picking the seed head, lay them on a cookie sheet. You can put both flowers and seed heads together to dry. I like to let them sit out for a week so there’s no chance to get mold.

Arrange them with some space between them. It’s up to you whether or not you want to line the cookie sheet. Calendula flowers are considered edible so you don’t have to worry about toxins from the flower.

Where can I buy seeds to start growing Calendula?

Most large nurseries don’t sell Calendula plants but it wouldn’t hurt to check smaller local nurseries or farmers markets. If this is your first time growing Calendula, there are some places you can order them online. Feel free to save this post so you can come back to it when you are ready to collect Calendula seeds later in the growing season. Here’s a list of places you can purchase your first seeds from with links.

Mountain Rose Herbs

Eden Brothers

Baker Creek

Grow Organic

Johnny Seeds

Swallowtail Garden Seeds

Hudson Valley Seed Co

American Meadows

Summary

Calendula seeds are easy seeds to collect. When the flower dies back, a seed head is formed. Wait until the seed head is a brown/khaki color and cut it from the plant. Pulling it might pull up the whole plant and plants will keep blooming as long as it’s warm. Dry the seed head on a cookie sheet for about a week and the seeds should pull away easily. Store in a paper envelope in a cool, dry place. If you have the room to start the seeds indoors, you can plant them 4 weeks before the last frost date. You can also direct sow them in the ground after the danger of frost is passed. Check your local zone guide to find the date if you aren’t sure.