Marigolds are found in almost every garden. They survive in most soils, adapt to drier conditions, and are just pretty to look at.
The marigold is one of the easiest flower seeds to start and is one of the most beneficial annuals in the flower garden. Marigolds have double, carnation-like blooms and range from yellow and orange to a rust color.
Marigolds: Their Care, Benefits, and Uses
Scientific Info for Marigolds
Marigold Scientific Breakdown:
Even though there are over 50 species, 3 are the most common:
Targetes erecta: tallest, from 3 – 5 feet, called African or American marigold, love dry, hot climates.
Bushy T. patula: smaller, more compact, wider than tall, grows 6″ to 2 ft.
T. tenuifolia: called the rock garden marigolds, like hot, dry sites, makes wonderful edging, flowers are edible.
Care of Marigolds
Marigolds thrive in full sun and can withstand high heat. They grow in almost all soil types. Fertilizing isn’t necessary except in poor soil, however, if you must use some 5-10-5 is preferred.
When watering these flowers always try to water the base, not the plant. Marigolds are hardy from zones 2 through 11. They bloom from Spring through Fall continuously.
The seeds are easy to start by sowing at a depth of 2 cm and sprinkling with soil. Usually, the sprouts will appear in a few days and the blooms will appear in about 8 weeks.
Deadheading is not necessary, but will encourage more blooms. If you don’t deadhead them early on they can become stringy or leggy.
Do not fertilize during the growth period. However, do mulch around the base of the plants to protect the moisture levels of the soil.
When watering these flowers always water at the base of the plant not directly over the flower. Excess water on the leaves can cause powdery mildew.
Uses for Marigolds
These versatile flowers are used for many things.
- Can be dried for flower arrangements and wreaths.
- Used for treatment of skin inflammations.
- Treats varicose veins, hemorrhoids, mastitis, sebaceous cysts, and impetigo.
- Repairs minor damages to the skin like a sunburn when made into an ointment.
- Warts, corns, and calluses can be removed by using the sap from the stem.
- Pigments from the flower are used as a food coloring in livestock feed and for humans.
Pests and Diseases of Marigolds
Mites and aphids sometimes affect Marigolds. Using a mixture of simple dish soap and water in a spray bottle will help eliminate these pests. Just make sure to repeat this process every 2 weeks as maintenance.
Marigolds can occasionally get a fungal infection. This is usually caused by wetness. Avoid a fungal infection by planting in well-drained soil, keeping the weeds down, and avoiding getting water on the flower itself.
Pest Control for Vegetable Gardens
Marigolds are a great companion plant in the vegetable garden because the flowers repel certain pests from bothering the vegetables. The underground roots can repel nematodes and other pests for up to 3 years!
Veggies that benefit are:
Common pests that marigolds are known to repel include aphids, cabbage maggots, potato beetles, nematodes, flea beetles, corn earthworms, cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and Japanese beetles.
It is also known to deter rabbits from entering a garden that marigolds are planted in. A well-known fact is that mosquitoes steer clear of these flowers.
Marigolds as Edibles
Harvest marigold and calendula flowers as they open in the late morning for salads, cakes, and teas. Marigolds and calendulas are easy to dry and store for later use.
Just spread the flowers on a screen to dry in a well-ventilated, shady location and store in glass jars. You can remove the seeds and store them, too, for sowing next spring.
Marigolds are perfect for a food forest too. Just the pretty colors alone are a great way to brighten many shaded areas.
Here are some varieties of marigolds to try in your garden:
- Bonanza Mix Hybrid
- Flagstaff Hybrid
- Inca II Hybrid
- Lemon Gem
- Vanilla Improved Hybrid
- Zenith Hybrid
- Flashback Mix
- Bonanza Mix
- Lemon Gem
- Tangerine Gem
- Red Gem
Helpful or Harmless to Bees?
Store-bought marigolds are often sprayed with noenicitinoids. These doses have proved fatal to bees. It is much better if you want the bees to stay around and be healthy to start these flowers from seeds. Check out Bakers Creek Seed Company.
There is some controversy surrounding whether or not these flowers repel bees like it does other insects. Some researchers believe that it repels wasps and yellow jackets because these bees do not look for the sweet nectar that draws the honeybee.
Instead, wasps and yellow jackets prefer other targets and tend to travel in swarms, therefore the marigold is almost found to be repulsive to these insects. These researchers feel that the honeybee population does not dwindle when marigolds are planted.
The best advice if you don’t want to ward off your native bee population would be to keep the marigolds in a garden that is not the same as the one you may be growing to attract the bees. Many people plant marigolds in containers on the porch and patio or around the perimeter to ward off mosquitoes and other pests.
Do you grow Marigolds in your garden? Do you use them for medicinal or health ointments and salves? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.