Calendula is one of my favorite flowers- and medicinal herbs. I tend to grow tons and tons of it every year! Not only does it help keep pests away in the garden, but it’s also just so sunny and cheery to look at!
What do I do with all my calendula?? I dry it! Drying calendula is super easy and, once dry, will store for a long time so that you can use it whenever you please!
Want to learn how to grow calendula? Check out my guide: How to Grow Calendula from Seed
How to Harvest Calendula Flowers
Let’s start with how to harvest calendula flowers.
The best time to harvest your calendula is in the mid morning. You want to pick them when the blooms are fully opened toward the sun and the dew has dried- but before the heat of the day affects the blossoms. Of course, you can harvest any time of the day- mid morning is just optimum.
To harvest, take a sharp pair of scissors and snip off the flower head, leaving little to no stem.
Pick your calendula often- the more you pick, the more your plant will produce! Harvest at least every 3 days- so that you get the blooms at their peak and not when they are starting to droop.
If you do miss a few and they are less than fresh on the plant, go ahead and leave them- they go to seed readily and you can harvest the seeds when they are dry for even more calendula next year!
How to Dry Calendula Flowers
Drying calendula flowers is very simple and requires nothing more than time.
Bring your fresh calendula flowers inside and immediately set them to dry. To do this you want to set them face down on your surface.
There are a lot of options for drying surfaces- paper towels, newspaper, a screen, paper plate, your dehydrator.
I personally use my dehydrator trays. I don’t actually turn the dehydrator ON, but the trays are set up for easy drying and good airflow. I just leave the front open and the trays in various positions.
Bonus- my dehydrator has 9 trays and I can dry a lot of calendula in a small amount of space!
You will want to turn the flowers as they dry if you are drying on a surface with less air flow like paper towels.
Calendula flowers don’t take too long to dry- but ensure they are completely dry before storing them.
How to Store Dried Calendula
Once your calendula flowers are dry you can store them. But remember they must be 100% completely dry or they will mold once you close them up in a container.
Remember that the green center head of the flower will take longer to dry than the petals.
When your blooms are dry they will be brittle and the petals will release easily from the center heads. When it doubt them leave for longer than necessary- it’s better than ending up losing all of your dried calendula!
You can choose to leave the petals on the heads or remove them and store only the petals. When I dry my calendula, I leave the flower heads intact with the petals. The heads have medicinal properties too, so I want to preserve as much as possible.
If you choose to store only the dry calendula petals, simply mixing the dry flowers in a bowl with your hands will be enough to release the petals from the heads.
I store all of my herbs in glass mason jars. They are strong, air tight, and moths and mice (eek!) can’t get into them in my cabinet!
And remember- always store your dried calendula out of the sun. A dark cabinet is the best place.
What to Do With Dried Calendula Flowers
So, now that you have all this dried calendula…what do you DO with it??
Seriously you can use calendula for so many things.
I make Calendula Tea with most of my dried calendula- it’s great for your skin or for treating ailments like pink eye.
I’ve also been known to throw some in soups and other dishes from time to time.
You can read more about how to use calendula in 30 Amazing Benefits and Uses for Calendula.