'Flashback Mix' Calendula
Origin: Philomath, Oregon
Improvement status: Cultivar
Seeds per packet: ~100
Germination tested 12/2021: 81%
Life cycle: Annual
'Flashback Mix' offers a multicolored blend of gorgeous calendulas, named for the flashy red or maroon backs of the petals, which come in a range of colors. These seeds come to us from Wild Garden Seeds in Philomath, Oregon.
Calendula is an old-school plant experiencing a recent resurgence in popularity. Also known as "pot marigold," it typically has beautiful yellow-orange flowers, though some varieties (like this one) feature pinks and reds too. The leaves are edible (better after boiling), but it's the flowers that are the main crop. The petals have long been used as an edible garnish, and natural food dye and subtle flavoring (much like saffron, though with a different flavor). Back in the day, dairy farmers often dyed butter orange with calendula petals to make it look more appetizing. It also seems likely it was playing a preservative role, as the plant is now known to have some anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties.
Calendula is still a widely used medicinal plant (especially for inflammation and to prevent infections) and in cosmetics (due to the presence of saponins, essential oils, and resins). The plant is very easy to grow in a wide range of conditions. It is typically treated as an annual in North America, but it is actually a short-lived perennial and can persist for many years in warmer climates. It is believed native to southern Europe, but it is possible that it is a completely domesticated species that was developed in cultivation from wild relatives.
GROWING TIPS: Direct seed after danger of frost has passed. For maximum productivity, space plants around 6 inches apart.