Marigolds are a fuss free half-Hardy Annual that brings a welcome pop of colour to any flower bed or Vegetable patch. Also helpful in attracting Bees, Butterflies, ladybirds and many other beneficial insects. Read on to find out how I grow mine…
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It is believed the Aztec people were the first to grow and Harvest Marigolds, they believed the flowers to have magical, religious and medicinal properties. The first recorded use of marigolds is documented in the De La Crus-Badiano Aztec Herbal of 1552. It records the use of marigolds as treatment for the hiccups, being struck by lightning! or simply…’for one who wishes to cross a river or water safely!’
Marigolds, both French and African, are indigenous to Mexico and Guatemala. During the 16th Century they were discovered by Spanish explorers who harvested the Marigold seeds and brought them to Europe. They were first grown in Spain, France and later North Africa (which is why they are commonly known as African and French Marigolds)
What Are The Two Main Types Of Marigolds?
The two main species of Marigolds are the French marigold (Tagetes patula) and the African Marigold (Tagetes erecta). French Marigolds are more compact with smaller Blooms. African Marigolds tend to be much larger, with flowers as much as 4 inches in diameter.
Why Grow Marigolds in a Vegetable Garden
Marigolds are a great companion plant in your vegetable garden and can help protect your vegetables from predators and pests. They are an eco-friendly pest control alternative…Simply plant Marigolds amongst your vegetables to act as a sacrificial plant. The Marigolds will lure pests away from your precious crops but also attract insects such as Ladybirds which will feed on the harmful pests.
- Marigold’s Attract bees and other pollinators, as well as beneficial insects like ladybirds
- Marigold’s Repel unwanted visitors such as cabbage worms and tomato hornworms and whitefly
- Marigolds act as a useful protector of vegetable crops from Animals looking for a free Buffet! Rabbits and deer do not like the scent of Marigolds.
Marigold Companion Plants
Here are some Vegetables that would benefit from growing alongside Marigolds…
Why Grow Marigolds in your Garden ?
They flower for months on end, producing blooms through summer and well into autumn. In an array of colours and tones and sometimes with contrasting markings. Colours include, Orange, Yellow, Red and Brown.
Can You Grow Marigolds in Pots?
All types of Marigold can be grown in pots and will generally only require small-medium sized containers. Large Varieties of Marigold, those that reach heights of up to 1 metre will obviously require much larger pots.
How To Grow Marigolds
Marigolds are Speedy germinators! Emerging within a matter of days and blooming within 8 weeks- an Easy Sow and Easy grow flower!
How To Sow Marigold Seeds
Sow indoors in early spring to flower from early summer or sow outside in late spring, for blooms later in the season.
Buy Tagetes Patula Nana Marigolds
Sow Indoors February-April. Sprinkle Marigold seeds on the surface of damp compost, cover with a layer of compost, cover with a propagator lid or cling wrap and place on a sunny windowsill. When the Seedlings are large enough to handle, prick out and pot on into modules or pots. Plant out after all risk of frost has passed- Be sure to Harden off the seedlings first.
What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently . This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.
How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.
Sow Outdoors April-May after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has begun to warm up a little. Sow Marigold seeds around 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart. Water and wait! After the seedlings emerge, thin out to around 20 cm apart.
Where To Plant Marigolds
Marigolds prefer a full sun position but will tolerate some shade. They like a well drained soil and will thrive equally as well in pots as they do in the ground
Marigolds water Requirements
Water your Marigolds at the base of the plant and not from above-The dense Blooms have a habit of rotting if laden with too much water. Water frequently, more so during periods of drought and high heat. For Pot Grown Marigolds, water daily.
Should You Pinch Marigolds ?
Only If you want more flowers! ;o) Wait until your Marigold seedlings are at least 6 – 8 inches tall- before they have formed flower buds. Pinch off the growing tip roughly 1/4 of an inch down from the second set of leaves. This process forces the plant to branch out, resulting in more stems=more flowers.
To keep the flowers coming, deadhead regularly. Removing spent flowers will encourage another flush of flowers.
What Do Marigolds Smell Like?
The scent of the Marigold is unlike any other plant. It’s hard to describe…but i would say, musky- a little like damp straw..if that make any sense! This pungent like smell is one of the reasons why the Marigold plant is so proficient in deterring pests and animals.
Save The Seeds!
Save Money and save Marigold seeds for sowing the following year! See My ‘How To Save Marigold Seeds‘ post.
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