Birth Flower of October: Calendula
Over 600,000 discovered species of flowering plants exist in the world and only 12 get to be called Birth Flowers – one for each month.
Many believe that Birth Flowers can predict the character of a person born in the month over which they rule.
The Birth Flower of October is the Calendula – commonly known as the Marigold.
History of the Calendula
The Marigold thrives in the subtropical-to-temperate climate from North America, through the Mediterranean, to Iran. The flower holds a sacred status in India, where people decorate statues of Hindu gods with it.
It plays an equally important role in Mexico where people make garlands out of it for the Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on October 31.
Yet, calendulas were as much revered thousands of years ago as they are today. The Romans and Greeks crafted crowns and garlands out of marigolds for ceremonies while the Aztecs sprinkled their petals on their dead during funerals because they believed their pungent odor attracted the souls of departed relatives.
In the 12th century, herbalist Macer described marigolds as a cure for bad eyesight and evil ‘humor’. William Shakespeare also wrote in the “Winter’s Tale”,
-“The Marigold that goes to bed wi’ the sunne; And with him rises weeping.”-
Colors and Symbolism
It’s not hard to see why they endowed it with a higher meaning. The marigold mostly comes in most colors, from golden, orange or yellow to blue, red or white.
Known as the “the herb of the sun”, it has a striking shape which resembles the Sun’s or a mandala’s. No wonder a mere glimpse at it opens a gate of symbolism for us.
It symbolizes deep, “religious” feelings like gratitude and serenity in India. But just like a mandala encompasses the whole, some view the marigold as a symbol of cruelty, envy, and grief.
Much like the month it represents, October, we see in the marigold a hope for the better beyond the approaching winter.
Interesting facts about the Calendula flower
Calendula is an effective anti-inflammatory and anti-viral herb. It has found widespread use in cosmetics and herbal medicine as an effective treatment for skin infections and as a disinfectant.
Studies have also revealed that, when ingested, marigold petals are effective in the treatment and prevention of stomach ulcers.
How to grow and care for them
Like any herb, calendulas are robust and adaptable. However, they can be vulnerable when young. This is why it would be beneficial to plant them indoors before transplanting them outside in the spring or early autumn. Plant them about 1/4 inch deep in soil with around 6 pHs and avoid overwatering.
They are fond of sunny spots, but can whither if exposed to the sun for longer periods. In hotter climates, marigolds cease to blossom in the summer and resume when the days get cooler. To help them bloom all year round, plant them where the sun-to-shade ratio is balanced.
Marigolds can rise to three feet when fully grown, so they might benefit from trimming and pinching to increase their flower yield and keep them in a nice shape.
If all is done correctly, marigolds will take root and take care of themselves, so you can enjoy their mood-uplifting properties for a long, long time.