Calendula varieties: 16 pot marigolds to plant in your garden

Discover the best calendula varieties to add a burst of sunshine to your planting scheme all summer long

Calendula varieties range from the brilliant orange to the apricot, red-tipped flowers of Calendula Sunset Buff
Calendula varieties range from the brilliant orange to the soft apricot, red-tipped flowers of 'Sunset Buff'
(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo/Joan Gravell)

For fiery color and low-maintenance gardening, the many calendula varieties available are hard to beat. Commonly known as pot marigolds, they produce charming daisy flowers that blaze in shades of orange and yellow all summer long. 

As well as being perfect additions to your flower bed ideas, they make excellent cut flowers and are commonly used for companion planting in the vegetable patch. 

The genus Calendula includes 15 species, some of which (including the pot marigold, C. officinalis, and the field marigold, C. arvensis) are native to the Mediterranean; while others are endemic to the Middle East, including Iran, where calendula is much-loved. Tagetes – also referred to as marigolds (including French and African marigolds) – is a different genus. 

Thought to have been introduced here by the Romans, C. officinalis was once used to heal wounds and, being one of the widely available edible plants, was employed to add color to dishes: hence two of its common names pot marigold and poor man’s saffron. Today, it is still used in skincare, and the petals are added to salads and other summer dishes. 

Pot marigold is great for companion planting in the vegetable plot because the aromatic foliage repels pests (such as cutworms). It attracts beneficial insects (ladybirds, lacewings, and hoverflies), which lay eggs near aphids, so their larvae can eat them, thus protecting vegetables. Calendula can also attract aphids, in turn luring them away from your edible crops. 

Pot marigolds growing near crops to attract pest predators

Calendula officinalis is used to attract pest predators such as hoverflies and ladybirds into gardens

(Image credit: Future)

16 calendula varieties for every occasion

Whether you opt for the perfect calendula varieties to use as a bedding plant to fill gaps in borders, or grow it as a cutting garden flower, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

Florists Caroline Harding and Kate Dalton, who grow their own flowers at the Sussex Cutting Garden, recommend pairing calendula with lavender, annual salvias, and limonium for a striking planting scheme. 

1. Calendula officinalis

The brilliant orange flower of Calendula officinalis

Calendula officinalis has brilliant orange flowers

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/Juhani Vlitanen)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 20in (50cm) 

The pot marigold has been grown as a herb since ancient times. It has bold tangerine daisy flowers that brighten garden borders or the vegetable patch. 

Sow direct in mid to late spring, half an inch (1cm) deep, in well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade. Thin seedlings to 12in (30cm) apart. Make sure you water regularly. To maintain flowering for a longer period, either cut the flowers for the vase or deadhead. 

A good planting partner is Salvia viridis ‘Blue Monday’. 

2. Calendula 'Orange Porcupine'

Calendula Orange Porcupine is brilliant orange with interesting petals

Calendula 'Orange Porcupine' is brilliant orange with quilled petals

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/flowerphotos)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 18in (45cm)

A blazing-orange marigold with quilled petals, use this hardy annual to fill gaps in borders or enjoy it in terracotta garden planters on the patio. 

If you're looking for a good planting partner, it's worth considering Linaria maroccana 'Licilia Red'.

3. Calendula 'Crown Orange'

A cluster of Calendula Crown Orange which have brilliant orange petals and a dark centre

Calendula 'Crown Orange' resembles an anemone dahlia, with its orange petals and dark centre

(Image credit: Thompson & Morgan)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)

This crested amber calendula is reminiscent of an anemone dahlia and looks great grown in lines in a vegetable patch as part of your kitchen garden ideas, or used as bedding in borders. 

For a bold contrast to its vibrant orange blooms, combine with the nectar-rich dark flowers of Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Ball’.

4. Calendula 'Sunset Buff'

Calendula Sunset Buff has pale apricot petals with reddish tips

Calendula 'Sunset Buff' has pale apricot petals with reddish tips

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/Joan Gravell)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 18in (45cm)

This lovely variety has dusky-apricot petals with raspberry-red undersides and chocolate centers. Suitable as a cutting garden flower, you can sow it direct into borders to fill gaps between roses and perennials.

Combine with the hardy annual Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’, which is also a great option for filling in gaps in your borders. 

'Our favourite calendula is ‘Sunset Buff’, which has soft apricot tones,' say florists Caroline Harding and Kate Dalton. 'Cut it every few days to ensure the plant continues to bloom.'

5. Calendula 'Orange Flash'

Calendula Orange Flash has peachy petals and a bronze centre and is good for cottage gardens

Calendula 'Orange Flash' is a perfect addition for cottage gardens

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/AngieC)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)

A charming calendula that has peach-chamois petals with bronze undersides. It's a great choice if you're searching for the best cottage garden plants, so incorporate it in pretty flower beds or grow it in the vegetable patch as a cut flower. 

Combine with the pretty purple flowers of Verbena bonariensis ‘Lollipop’, which is the compact version of this ever popular plant. 

6. Calendula 'Pink Surprise'

Calendula Pink Surprise is a warm apricot colour

Calendula 'Pink Surprise' brings warm apricot tones to pots and borders

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/Selfwood)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)

An apricot-pink marigold that will inject flower beds with sunset warmth all summer long. Alternatively, use them as part of your container gardening ideas, sowing the seeds direct into terracotta pots to place on the patio or beside the front door. 

It looks particularly striking when planted alongside the purple flushed sunflowers of Helianthus annuus ‘Ms Mars’. 

7. Calendula ‘Kablouna Yellow’

Close up of ruffled yellow petals of Calendula Kablouna Yellow

Calendula 'Kablouna Yellow' has ruffled yellow petals with a reddish centre

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/Christopher Burrows)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)

If you're a fan of bright yellow flowers, then you'll want to add this calendula variety to your planting list. It features sun-yellow flowers that have a crested boss, like an anemone dahlia. It can be grown as bedding in borders or as a cut flower in the vegetable patch. 

Team with Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Dwarf Sensation White’, or find choose other types of cosmos from our favorites in our dedicated guide. 

8. Calendula 'Golden Emperor'

Calendula Golden Emporer has canary yellow petals

The canary-yellow petals of Calendula 'Golden Emperor' make it a stand-out annual for a summer border

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/Antonio Siwiak)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)

Featuring generous double canary-yellow flowers, these calendula varieties pair well with other fiery annuals or perennials for a striking garden color scheme

Alternatively, sow in rows to brighten up the vegetable patch, or combine with the softer yellow blooms of Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Xanthos’. 

9. Calendula arvensis

Yellow flowers of Calendula arvensis or the Mediterranean field marigold

The sweet and simple yellow flowers of Calendula arvensis or the Mediterranean field marigold

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/blickwinkel)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 20in (50cm)

The field marigold is a Mediterranean hardy annual with small golden-yellow daisies. It looks great with ornamental grasses, such as Stipa tenuissima, at the front of the border. Briza media, also known as quaking grass, is another good planting partner. 

10. Calendula 'Oopsy Daisy'

Dwarf calendula Oopsy Daisy has pale gold flowers

Dwarf calendula 'Oopsy Daisy' has pale gold flowers

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/Joan gravell)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 8in (20cm)

As this is a very short pot marigold, it's ideally suited to growing in small containers and for incorporating into your window box ideas

It features pretty pale-gold flowers tipped orange, giving a burst of sunshine to your planting scheme, and works well alongside the bright yellow and white flowers of Limnanthes douglasii AGM. 

11. Calendula 'Sherbert Fizz'

Calendula Sherbert Fizz is a dwarf variety that has flowers with buff-pink petals

Calendula 'Sherbert Fizz' is perfect for pots

(Image credit: Thompson and Morgan)
  • Hardiness: all zones 
  • Height: 18in (45cm)

This good-looking variety of calendula has eye-catching pink-buff petals with bronze-red undersides. 

Enjoy it at the front of the border among low perennials or include it in your garden planter ideas on a patio or deck to provide a splash of color to your summer seating area. Complement its red tones by planting it alongside the scarlet flowers of Eschscholzia californica 'Red Chief'.

12. Fiesta Gitana Group AGM

Yellow and orange flowers of the compact and bushy Calendulas in the Fiesta Gitana Group AGM

Fiesta Gitana Group AGM is a compact and bushy type of calendula

(Image credit: Thompson and Morgan)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 12in (30cm)

If you're searching for more compact calendula varieties that will work well in smaller container planting displays, this is a reliable, compact, bushy pot marigold to add to your list. 

It has double zesty-orange or yellow flowers and makes a brilliant plant for window boxes or patio pots. Team with Tagetes ‘Lemon Gem’ for a pretty effect. 

13. Calendula 'Indian prince'

Calendula Indian Prince has broad orange flower heads and is ideal for cutting for flower arranging

Calendula 'Indian Prince' is one of the best types of calendula for cutting

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/Kay Roxby)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 20in (60cm)

A great pot marigold for the vase, this produces burnt-orange flowers with chocolate centers all summer long, if cut regularly. It can also be grown as an edible flower, with the petals added to salads. 

For added drama in your planting scheme, team this beautiful orange variety with the deep purple tones of Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black Knight’.

14. Calendula 'Snow Princess'

Calendula Snow Princess has pale ivory petals and a red centre and is a rare variety

Calendula 'Snow Princess' is a rare variety with ivory-lemon flowers

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/Tanya C Smith)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 20in (60cm)

If you're looking for calendula varieties with a difference, make sure you add this stunning option to your planting list. It's about as close as you can get to a white marigold. This rare ivory pot marigold produces pale-gold buds that open into double lemon-cream flowers with brown or yellow centers, and faint red-tipped fringes.

Highlight those delicate red accents by planting it alongside the crimson blooms of Papaver commutatum ‘Ladybird’ AGM.

15. Calendula ‘Touch of Red Buff’

Fawn-pink Calendula Touch of Red Buff is ideal for cutting for the vase

Calendula 'Touch of Red Buff' is perfect for cutting and adding to flower arrangements

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/Baily Cooper-Photographer)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 20in (60cm)

If you're a fan of cottage garden ideas, you'll want to find calendula varieties that will suit a pretty, romantic planting scheme. This variety is just the ticket thanks to its superb fawn-pink petals with raspberry-red undersides and fox-brown centers. 

Up the romance stakes by teaming it with the nectar-rich pink blooms of Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Pink Popsocks’.

16. Calendula ‘Greenheart Orange’ (Greenheart Series)

Calendula Greenheart Orange has fiert orange petals with a distinctive green centre

The distinctive flowers of fiery Calendula 'Greenheart Orange' have a green central boss

(Image credit: Thompson and Morgan)
  • Hardiness: all zones
  • Height: 20in (60cm)

Particularly useful as a cut flower, this fiery-orange pot marigold has a central boss of green. Sow in patches in borders for bold color, or in rows to cheer the vegetable patch. Try planting it alongside Nicotiana alata ‘Lime Green’.

Can you plant all calendula varieties at the same time of year?

Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) can be sown under cover in modules or individual pots in early spring (for example in a greenhouse or on a windowsill) and then planted outside in late spring or early summer. 

Calendula can also be sown direct into the soil in mid to late spring. A sunny position in well-drained soil is best. Seeds must be sown half an inch (1cm) deep. Thin the seedlings to 12in (30cm) apart, protect them from slugs, and water regularly (especially in hot weather). 

Sowing calendula seeds directly into the soil in late spring

Sow calendula seeds directly into prepared soil in late spring

(Image credit: Future/Ruth Hayes)

Pot marigolds can also be bought as bedding plants from many garden centers in late spring or early summer, to be planted in well-drained soil or containers. 

Calendulas grow in semi-shade, but perform best in sun. Just like sweet peas, calendulas have a cut-and-come-again habit, so harvest them for the vase every few days or regularly deadhead the plants to ensure that flower production is maintained. 

Being hardy annuals, calendula varieties can also be sown in autumn to produce flowers the following year. Sow into modules or individual pots and overwinter in a greenhouse or cold frame or on a windowsill. 

Planting Calendulas in early summer

Pot marigolds can be bought ready-to-plant from garden centres 

(Image credit: Future)

Do any calendula varieties come back every year?

Calendula is one of the best annual flowers to grow, but it only lives for one year. However, if sown the previous year or in early spring and then regularly cut for the vase or deadheaded, it will flower for months, sometimes from late spring to mid fall. 

It will usually self-sow too, giving you more flowers the following year. If you want a perennial plant with orange daisy-like flowers, try Echinacea Sombrero Flamenco Orange, Geum ‘Prinses Juliana’, or Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ instead. 

Colorful flowers of a patch of Calendulas, which are hardy annuals

Calendulas are hardy annuals and can be sown in autumn and spring

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos/Blickwinkel)

Are calendulas and marigolds the same plant?

Yes and no! Another name for calendula is pot marigold or common marigold, so it is definitely a type of marigold. However, when many people talk about marigolds, they are referring to Tagetes. Referred to as French, African, or signet marigolds, tagetes hail from Mexico. 

They have strongly aromatic divided leaves and red, orange, or yellow flowers. In the 1970s and 80s, double tagetes were widely planted as summer bedding, but today, they’re usually grown in single-flowered form to attract and benefit wildlife. 

Both tagetes and calendula can be grown from seed or bought as bedding plants. 

You can find out more about how to grow marigolds in our dedicated guide. 

A pack of Tagetes marigold plants bought from the garden centre

A pack of Tagetes marigold, also known as French or Africa marigolds

(Image credit: Future)
Ruth Hayes
Gardening editor, Amateur Gardening magazine

Ruth is the gardening editor of Amateur Gardening magazine and spends her working days carrying out, writing about and photographing the tasks the readers should be carrying out each week, as well as testing many of the new products that arrive on the gardening market. She is horticulturally trained, with a qualification from the Royal Horticultural Society.