Magical Marigolds

There are people who are not fans of the marigold because of its pungent and strong scent but I think it is magical because of all of its great qualities. Marigolds are annual flowers and are easy to grow. They are cheerful in the garden and depending on the variety you grow they bloom from spring to fall. The Marigold flower ranges in creamy white to a brownish maroon. There are several different types of marigolds and within each type, there are many series. 

African Marigolds (Tagetes erecta): These marigolds are also called American Marigolds and are the most common type of marigolds grown. These are your larger flowered or double flowered marigolds and bloom from the middle of the summer until autumn. Some of the series grow up to 3 feet tall and the flowers can measure up to 5 inches.

French Marigolds (Tagetes patula): French Marigolds are smaller when compared to African/American Marigolds. The flowers may grow up to 2 inches and may be single or double. They grow 6 to 18 inches. These flowers bloom from spring until frost. When compared to African Marigolds they hold up better to rainy weather.

Signet Marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia):  This type of marigold’s scent is not as musky as other marigolds; it has more of a lemon scent. The flowers are small and single and come in yellow, orange, or rust. They bloom in the summer. These flowers are edible and have a spicy tarragon flavor.

Triploid Hybrid Marigolds: This marigold is a cross between American and French marigolds. The flower blooms in this type of marigold are very large and do well in a challenging environment including hot weather. This marigold is a little more difficult to grow but if done well, the results are great.

Here are the reasons marigolds are such great flower and you should consider adding them to your garden:

Edible Flower:  The petals on the plant can be eaten. Add them to a salad or stir fry recipes. They can jazz up your ice cubes or crumble them in your smoothie.  All marigolds are edible but not all of them taste that great. As previously mentioned the Signet Marigold is a great edible flower and is used in salads. Marigolds are sometimes used as a substitute for Saffron and are referred to as a poor man’s Saffron.  Try it mixed in with rice.

Medicinal Tea:  Marigolds can be brewed in boiling water and while the tea is bland, it can be used to treat stomach aches, sore throats, and fevers. Pull off the petals and make sure they are fully dried (this will take a day or so and you can store the petals in mason jars) before making the tea.

Great Companion Plant:  While people are not fans of the marigold scent, many gardeners know that it makes a great companion plant to basil, cucumbers, eggplant, gourds, kale, potatoes, squash, and tomatoes. The underground mechanisms of marigolds will repel nematodes (microscopic worms) for up to 3 years.  Note that some of the newer marigold hybrids do not necessarily retain the natural pest-controlling scent.

Natural Repellent:  Rabbits also are repelled by marigolds.  They also find the scent disagreeable. Putting up a flower border around your garden can keep the bunnies away.

Japanese Beetle Trap:  If you are affected by this pesky bug, use marigolds to attract and catch them. You can then take a bucket of soapy water and bump them into the bucket for death. If you raise chickens, you can toss the beetle packed blooms into the chicken pen and the chickens will devour the blooms and bugs.

Marigolds are easy to grow from seeds or plants.  They flourish in full sun and can sometimes withstand the hot summer season. They grow in almost any soil but it should be well-drained. Do not fertilize these plants during the growing season as it will cause the foliage to grow and there won’t be as many blossoms. Water the flowers at the base of the plant. Deadheading is not necessary but if you do, this would encourage more blooming.

Try adding some magic to your garden this year with marigolds.

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