Calendula, widely recognized as the Flower of the Month for October, comes from the Latin word calendae, meaning "throughout the months." Gardeners who plant this long-blooming herbaceous annual will find it certainly lives up to its name.
Although members of the marigold family, calendulas' needs are quite different. They actually prefer cooler temperatures and evenly moist soil, and at 1-2 ft. tall, calendulas can get quite a bit bigger than your average marigold, too. If you're putting in transplants, use a slow-release fertilizer at planting time. Calendulas also do great in containers.
As your calendulas grow and flower, prune back spent blossoms to prolong blooming; some will continue to bloom into late fall, a nice treat since calendula's predominantly orange and yellow flowers fit in with autumn's color scheme. In hot climates, calendula will continue to grow throughout the winter.
Calendulas can continue to perform even after they're cut. Add the dried flowers to vinegar and use as a fish marinade or salad dressing. (In fact, the leaves themselves can be harvested for salads.) Tea made from calendulas flowers is said to make a soothing eye wash, a mild treatment for skin irritations or a remedy for upset stomachs.
Give this hard-working beauty a try, and you'll be enjoying calendula -- as its name says -- "throughout the months"!