HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR OUR PLANTS
ThereCalendula it is a delightful herbaceous plant quite common in the countries that overlook the Mediterranean Sea where it is found in uncultivated meadows, along the roads and in the olive groves up to 600 meters above sea level.
Species: see the paragraph on "Main species"
The genre Calendula belongs to the family ofAsteraceae and includes about thirty annual and evergreen perennial species native to Mediterranean Europe, North Africa and South Asia.
It is quite common in the countries of the Mediterranean basin. Generally, it is found in uncultivated meadows, along roadsides and in olive groves up to 600 meters above sea level.
There are several schools of thought about the etymology of the name: there are those who argue that the name derives from the Latin calendae «first day of the month »to indicate that it blooms on the first day of each month for a good part of the year (in the figurative sense, that is to say that it blooms every month). Another school of thought argues that it derives from calendar as it marks the rhythm of the day opening at morning and closing at sunset and for this reason in medieval texts it was called solis sponsa «bride of the sun ».
It is a herbaceous, annual plant with an erect posture, an angular stem covered with hair that reaches a height of 50-70 cm, very branched and with a growing root that reaches a depth of no more than 30 cm.
The leaves are lanceolate, thick and covered with a dense down which gives it a velvety appearance, without petiole, with whole or slightly wavy margins and slightly sharp at the apex and of a beautiful light green color. The lower leaves are smaller and arranged in a rosette than the upper ones which remain more slender and large.
The flowers are arranged in flower heads that recline after they have bloomed, golden yellow, orange or white, 1-2 cm wide. The bracts surrounding the corollas are light green, oval in shape and slightly pointed.
The fruits are achenes of different shapes: those placed more externally are arched and with a toothed back, the medium ones have lateral wings and with a shape that resembles a boat, the innermost ones recall earthworms as they are narrow and long.
It blooms from early summer until late autumn.
All types of marigold are believed to be derived from a single species, theC.arvensis.
The genus is well known as an ornamental plant rather than for its truly important medicinal virtues.
There are about thirty species among which the most widespread and well-known are:
There Calendula officinalis also called Fiorrancio or calendula is the best known and most widespread species.These are fast growing annual plants with lanceolate aspatolate leaves up to 15 cm long.The flowers have a color ranging from yellow, to orange to white and appear from summer to autumn.
There are numerous hybrids, both ornamental and medicinal, which differ in the different sizes of the flowers, in their color, in the size (dwarf variety) and in the length of the flower stem (cut flower variety).
ThereCalendula arvensis it is the species that we find spontaneously in our meadows.
The flowers are yellow or orange, leaves alternate and covered with a dense down. It blooms from June to November.
The Calendula they love the sun and the air so they are plants that must be grown outdoors, even in pots, as long as they are kept in a balcony or window sill.
It is not particularly demanding and adapts quite well to different pedo-climatic situations.
They are plants that must stay in direct sun in fact they have no problems with high temperatures.
Water regularly so that the soil is always moist, not soggy. Constant watering, especially when the plant is in bloom, is very important.
Beware of water stagnations which are not tolerated in any way.
TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT
They prefer soils rich in organic substance, light, which favor the rapid draining of excess water as they do not tolerate water stagnation in any way.
To fertilize it Calendula a liquid fertilizer is used, suitably diluted in the irrigation water, every 15 days from the moment in which the buds begin to form and throughout the flowering using a fertilizer that has a higher title in potassium and phosphorus which favor flowering. Therefore, when you buy a fertilizer, make sure that in addition to having the so-called macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and that among these the potassium and phosphorus are in greater quantities that it also has microelements such as iron ( Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), magnesium (mg) all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.
Pay close attention to the amount of nitrogen that is added as if it is high, it will favor a greater development of the leaves at the expense of the flowers. In practice, if you want to have a greater number of flowers, it is good to use half doses of nitrogen compared to phosphorus and potassium.
In most species, flowering occurs with the beginning of summer and until late autumn.
The plants must be trimmed with the primary vegetative apexes to favor the growth of lateral buds and therefore have a greater number of flowers.
Make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably over a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.
The Calendula they multiply by seed.
MULTIPLICATION BY SEEDS
If you plan to do the sowing in pots or in seedbeds, the half-years sown in spring in a compost made up of three parts of fertile soil and one of coarse sand. In consideration of the fact that the seeds are small in size, to bury them push them under the ground with a flat piece of wood or pour new soil on top. Moisten the soil with a sprayer (which ensures uniform humidity) and cover the tray with a plastic sheet or a glass plate both to prevent the soil from drying out too quickly and to maintain a constant temperature. At this point you will find a corner of the house in the shade and where it is possible to guarantee a temperature around 15 ° C. Every day open the tray to check the humidity of the soil and eliminate any condensation from the plastic. remove the plastic, eliminate the less robust plants and move the box to a brighter position but not in direct sun.
When the young seedlings are large enough to be handled, transplant them into single pots using soil as indicated for adult plants and treat them as such. From the moment of sowing the plant lasts from 3 to 4 months
If you plan to sow directly in the field or in the garden, it is necessary to work the soil in order to eliminate the surface crust and make it compact and add some organic substance that is very welcome.
In temperate climate areas it can be sown in autumn so that the flowering is anticipated the following year and therefore obtain greater productions.In cooler climate regions, sowing must be done in spring starting from April.
The seeds should be arranged in such a way as to have 5-8 plants per square meter. More dense sowing is generally not recommended as you will have smaller flowers.
If you transplant seedlings grown in seedbeds, the transplant must be done in April-May.
PARASITES AND DISEASES
Presence of a whitish patina on the green parts of the plant
This symptom is to be associated with a fungal attack and in particular a white sore attack caused by Erysihe spp. The fungus first manifests itself as a whitish mold and then the leaves turn yellow and fall off.
Remedies: if caught in time, this disease is not fatal and it is sufficient to eliminate the affected parts. However, if the attack is particularly severe, use specific pesticides registered for this plant.
Appearance on the leaves of pale green spots which form almost colorless masses
If you observe this symptomatology you are in the presence of the so-called coal caused by a fungus la Entyloma spp. disease that spreads very quickly as the conidia (the propagation organs of the fungus) survive in the soil and spread quickly with irrigation water.
Remedies: the fight is first of all preventive by adopting the cultivation practices to maintain a dry environment around the plant as the fungus is favored by high humidity. It is important to keep the plants spaced apart in order to promote good air circulation. If the attack is particularly advanced, use specific pesticides registered for this plant.
Presence of small insects on the plant
Small mobile insects ranging in color from white to yellow to green are certainly aphids or as they are more often called lice.
Remedies: treat with specific aficides.
Flower heads are used to dye delicate fabrics such as silk and wool with various shades of yellow.
Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) Benedictine mystic better known asSaint Hildegard (even if the canonization process never came to an end), a medical scholar who lived in Germany, she made this plant famous as a remedy for a whole series of diseases, so much so that even today in Germany it C. officinalis it is produced intensively and is registered in the German Pharmacopoeia.
Shakespeare in the sonnet XXV reads:
«Those who have favorable stars
they also boast of public honors and magnificent titles,
while I, whose fortune denies such a triumph,
I rejoice, unseen, of what I most honor.
The favorites of the great princes open their beautiful petals
like marigold under the eye of the sun,
and in themselves their pride lies buried,
for, at a frown, they die in their glory.
The tried warrior, famous for his deeds,
defeated that is once even after a thousand victories,
is forever stricken from the book of honor,
and forgotten is all he was committed to.
So happy I, whom I love and are loved in return
by whom I cannot leave, nor be left ”.
In many areas it is also known as gold of Mary perhaps the properties of its infusion to relieve menstrual pain.
The leaves of the Calendula they can be eaten like common salads; buds can be used as pickles and can replace capers; dried petals are used to flavor vinegar or made into delicious candied fruit.
See: «Medicinal plants».
LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS AND PLANTS
See: "The language of flowers and plants".