calendula sprouts

Zena writes:

Our Christmas gifts this year are little desktop plant pots.

The pots are made of 95% recycled aluminium – which are recyclable, too. They contain nasturtium and calendula seeds.

They should germinate within about 10 – 14 days. The ones photographed above sprouted in about a week, so they’ve done very well.

Planting instructions

The seeds will sprout more quickly if you soak them first. Wrap them in a bit of paper towel and put them at the bottom of a mug of water overnight. Then plant them when you get to work the next morning.

Put about 3cm of water (about halfway up to the label) into the pot, and let it sit for five minutes. (You can make a cup of tea while you wait!) Then put the cork on, and shake the pot lightly to break up the soil coin.

Put the seeds on top of the soil, and push them about 5mm down below the surface, and cover them over.

The tricky bit is not to overwater: they’ll drown or grow mouldy. But you don’t want them to dry out completely. A few drops every morning should be OK, then another few last thing on Friday.

Planting out

Once they get too big for your desk-pot, move your plants into something a little bigger. Use fairly sandy soil in your pot so it drains well. Water them before you move them, and afterwards, but don’t get them too wet afer that.

Around Easter time (after the frost has passed) you should be able to transplant your flowers into a windowbox or garden. Both calendulas and nasturtiums prefer full sun and well-drained soil.

Christmas gift plant
This was the nasturtium after a fortnight

They should flower from June to September. They flower more if the soil is poor, and if they don’t get over-watered. So if you have lots of leaves and not many flowers, cut back on the water and fertilizer. Cut off faded or dead flowers to encourage more flowers.


CalendulaThe calendulas will probably sprout first. Once they flower, you can use the big bright petals in salads or to make herbal tea. (They’re actually ‘bracts’ – the tiny flowers are in the middle of the showy bracts.)

Grow Veg has  an interesting article with advice on ways to use calendula. The Green Bean Connection is an American website, but it has suggestions for using calendula to protect other plants in your garden.


Nasturtium (photo Wickimedia)Nasturtiums are completely edible. They are slightly peppery – a bit like rocket or watercress. The flowers and youngest leaves are mild; older leaves are spicier. You can also eat the seeds, which are stronger still – some people pickle the young seeds in vinegar and use them instead of capers.

The Farmer’s Almanac website has more advice on growing nasturtiums, and you can also find information on the MicroGardener website.

Let us know how you get on!

We’d love to see photos of your deskpot flowers as they grow. My first pot grew just one nasturtium; my second seems to have a large number of calendula shoots. How has yours grown? Please tweet (@VGCGroup) or post on Facebook (VGC Group) so we can admire your efforts.

Staying sustainable

For the past few years we’ve been making our clients sustainable and interesting Christmas gifts instead of cards. We used recycled card in our desk calendars, and UTZ (fairly sourced) chocolates in our advent calendars.

Zena Wigram
Author: Zena Wigram, marketing and communications manager

If you have any suggestions for sustainable gifts, please do contact us for next year!

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