How to Grow Calendula At Home, And Why You Should

We first discussed the healing powers of calendula in our blog post on Why Calendula Belongs In Your First Aid Kit and Your Skincare Routine . Calendula is truly a healing powerhouse. Its powerful role in protecting and repairing the skin, including on a DNA level, and soothing irritation and redness, are well known and supported by peer-reviewed scientific research. It is used for everything from dermatitis to acne and from cleaning wounds to healing digestive ailments. But did you know that you can grow this magical ornamental and therapeutic “marigold” yourself in your own home garden to enjoy it for both its beauty and for its healing properties? Here’s what you need to know to grow these glorious golden blooms:

  • Order calendula seeds from a reputable organic seed vendor. Healing calendula is known colloquially as “pot marigold” and scientifically as Calendula officianalis (C. officianalis). This is not to be mistaken for other more common varieties of marigold which are a different genus and more widely available at garden centers.
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  • Plant the large, curved calendula seeds in a deep pot with potting soil. If planting in a garden, it can tolerate even poor soil, although it will thrive in well-worked and fertile soil and produce more blooms. It can be planted in full sun or partial shade and does well even in foggy areas where it stays cool during the day. The seeds germinate easily (germination takes 7 to 14 days) and can grow in almost any climate in the United States, except the very most arid or arctic.
  • Seeds can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost or can be direct-seeded outdoors in the spring. Whether planting indoors or out of doors, plant seeds ¼” below the surface of the soil and water regularly. If started indoors, the plants should grow to 4-5 inches and show some leaves before being transplanted 6” from each other. Plants will grow to a height of 2 to 2 ½ feet.
  • Harvest flowers in the hottest part of the day during the summer when the flowers are entirely dry and the healing resins are at their highest level. Harvest throughout the season as flowers bloom by snapping flowers off the plant. Dry flowers them by hanging them in an area with good airflow or placing on a drying screen or in a dehydrator at low temperature. Drying should occur out of direct sunlight. It will generally take 7-10 days to fully dry flowers.
  • Use the dried or fresh flowers in tea or in a tincture. Fresh flowers can be cut for decorative use but are also edible. They can be served raw in a salad, added to soups for color and flavor, or mixed in with goat cheese for a lovely presentation. Dried flowers can also be used to infuse oil for external use as a skin treatment. Keep in mind that some people are allergic to calendula and it is advised that it be avoided internally during pregnancy.

Happy growing!

Why Calendula Belongs in Your First Aid Kit and Your Skincare Routine

Calendula (Calendula officianalis) has long been known as one of the most healing herbs in the herbal apothecary. It has sacred status in India, is known as “Mary’s Gold” in tribute to the Virgin Mary in Catholic tradition, and was used by the ancient Romans and Greeks in many ceremonies. Calendula is often used topically for ailments and irritation of the skin and mucous membranes such as itching, contact dermatitis and heat rash. It is used to reduce swelling and inflammation, including of the mouth and throat, as well as to relieve the pain of hemorrhoids and proctitis and to heal abrasions. It has a history of being used for detoxifying the gallbladder and liver when taken internally as well as to treat fevers and prevent muscle spasms (including menstrual cramps). It has become familiar for its presence in popular homeopathic skin preparations for burns, rashes, and itching. The uses for this plant are amazingly varied.

Calendula is a type of marigold, but it is not of the same genus as the common marigold, that vibrant and ubiquitous flower of orange and yellow and red that shows its fiery colors in front yard gardens. The common garden marigold sadly does not contain the same therapeutic properties as potent calendula does… Yet even if you can’t pick up a calendula plant of your own at any home and garden center, you can grow your own calendula (C. officianalis) to use for therapeutic purposes at home!

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Ora’s Amazing Herbal’s Advanced Nightly Skin Repair Phytonutrient Face Oil Serum and Lightweight Daily Nourish Face Oil Serums are cold-infused with organic calendula because of not only the herbal wisdom of the ancients but also modern scientific research that has verified many of the herb’s benefits in the laboratory. This includes studies that have proven its potency as an antiviral and anti-inflammatory agent and a protector of genetic material, preventing skin mutations that can result in cancer. Our facial skin is the neediest skin on our body, especially as we age. It’s constantly exposed to the sun, environmental toxins and wind. Calendula applied to the skin directly is uniquely able to help soothe irritation, reduce redness, calm breakouts, moisturize, and repair sun damage.

Calendula has an important role to play in your skincare routine for preventing and reversing aging, as well as in your first aid kit for the treatment of rashes, itching, inflammation and abrasions. It can often be used as a replacement for over-the-counter hydrocortisone-based creams (but consult your healthcare professional first). Try keeping a calendula cream, lotion or healing salve in your first aid kit, especially during the summer when many people are most active and prone to irritation and injury. For maximum healing, sun damage protection and calming for your delicate facial skin, try facial serums and other skin care products that list calendula as one of the first ingredients. Let this vibrant golden flower work its soothing magic, just as it has done since ancient times.

What is a Salve?

Pronunciation
First of all, itʼs like tomato/tomahto or potato/potahto. Some people pronounce the “L” and some donʼt. OK? Now we have that out of the way.

Definition
A salve is simply a natural healing ointment. There are all different types of salve, basically depending on what types of ingredients are in it.

Purpose
Some salves are made to 
draw out toxins. Some are made to promote healing. Some are made to prevent infection. A salve can provide moisture and protection for skin as well. Well made salves made with a well planned blend of herbs can work well for diaper rashes, as a first aid ointment, post exfoliation treatment, general body lotion, tattoo after-care, eczema treatment, cleaning out babies folds, cleaning ears, healing scars, burns, sunburns, bug bites, as a bug repellant, as a foot treatment, as a lip balm, a hair treatment, you name it. An herbal salve could be made just with an oil and a hardener, such as olive oil and beeswax, but it is more useful if it is also made with some type of medicinal ingredients. 

How to make salve
There are two methods that herbalists generally use to infuse the herbs into the oil.

They is the low heat method, over a low flame or in a slow cooker. And there is the slower, cold infusion method. The method that uses heat is great in a pinch because it is faster and you can then custom make a salve as you need it. It does have its drawbacks though. When you heat an oil, you begin to destroy it and when you heat herbs too much you destroy their phytonutrients. Also, it’s like making soup, it’s almost always better after itʼs had more time, which an oil can withstand more of when it is not being heated. For these reasons, the slow cold infusion method is preferable to use whenever possible, and it is the method we use in our salves even though it’s a pain in the neck. 

Our first consideration when choosing an herb to use in a salve is that it is safe – meaning it has a very low rate of adverse reaction and does no harm – and then, that it is effective in promoting healing.

At Oraʼs Amazing Herbal we blend the following herbs for our salves:

Calendula: Calendula salves have been used to encourage wound healing, ease bruising and also treat infections associated with wounds.

Comfrey: Comfrey is used in salves for cuts, burns, skin ulcers, varicose veins, bronchitis, and rheumatism. It is not to be overused but is a fabulous herb when used in small dosages, in a blended salve like ours for example.

St. John’s Wort: Is considered to be anti-inflammatory and antiviral and is often used in salve for burns and for nerve pain.

Burdock: Burdock root has been used throughout herbal history for treatment of eczema, psoriasis, candida, burns, and rashes. It is known by herbalists to be antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and regenerative.

Thyme: Thyme is known to be a powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, and a strong antioxidant. Is also contributes a lovely gentle aroma to the oil it is infused in.

Chickweed: It is known as an antibacterial and is known to help with detoxification of rashes and skin irritations.

Plantain: Plantain is great topically for bites, and stings as well as all kinds of skin irritations including yeast and non-yeast diaper rashes.

Licorice (Touchy Skin Salve only): Licorice root is known as an anti-inflammatory as well as antiviral. It is known by herbalists to be particularly useful in soothing eczema, herpes and chicken pox. 

 

Making the Salve
We take this blend and scoop it into glass gallon sized mason jars. We use glass to 
avoid the leaching of toxins from plastic into the oil.

We then fill the jar with grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil is our carrier oil of choice because it is highly absorbable into the skin and thus delivers the healing our herbs have to offer very nicely. It also has a neutral scent and a good shelf life compared to olive oil for example. This means we can avoid using any preservatives in our salve aside from vitamin E, which is important to us because preservatives tend to be toxic.

We keep the glass jars infusing in a cold dark environment for a minimum of 6 weeks.  We give them each a shake every so often to ensure a good infusion is happening.

Then we strain out the oil from the herbs and dump the herbs into the compost for our home garden. 

Now comes the salve making part. We gently and carefully heat the oil in a double boiler, just enough to melt the beeswax. We add beeswax, and organic extra virgin coconut oil. We then ladle the warmed oil out into a pouring vessel and once in that vessel, we add a little vitamin E, and our essential oils. Once the essential oils go in, they start to evaporate quickly so its a little tricky. You donʼt want to pour so fast that it spills and makes a big mess, cleaning salve jars is a seriously annoying task. You donʼt want to give the essential oils time to evaporate either though, so this step is a bit of an acquired skill.

The essential oils we use in our All Purpose Salve are Tea Tree – known for its antiseptic and its antifungal properties; Rosemary – known for its stimulating and natural preservative activity; and Thuja (cedar leaf) – known for its astringent, antiviral, and bug repellant properties. 

Now you have it, all our secrets. You can go make some salve of your own. Have fun.

Or, you could of course just buy ours.

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