The marigold flower, native to the Americas, is one of the most common flowers in the United States and Mexico. They are relatively easy to grow and have a very long flowering season. Plants vary in size from 8 inches up to 40 inches tall. Marigolds are very popular because they grow in almost all climates, in most soil conditions and with very little care. Blooms are mainly yellow, orange or red.
African marigolds are of a taller variety, growing to a height of 36-40 inches. These marigold flowers are mostly found in shades of yellow and orange. The French marigold grows to a height of only 8-16 inches and has smaller flowers, either single or double; its blossoms are usually multicoloured tones of yellow or orange and red. The Signet marigold grows to a height of 15 inches with yellow flowers. This variety of marigold does not have a repelling smell.
The Signet marigold flowers are actually edible; its flavour is similar to tarragon and the leaves have a lemony scent. Flowers are used in salads, desserts and fancy drinks. Signet marigolds are also used for medicinal purposes; tea can be made by steeping dried flowers in boiling water. It helps to soothe upset stomachs and treat cramps.
Marigolds are one of the easiest plants to grow in the garden or in containers. Seeds can be purchased from garden centres, grocery stores or speciality catalogues online. Seeds can be sowed directly in the soil after all danger of frost has passed, or started indoors then transplanted outdoors for quicker blooms. Marigold flowers are happiest in sunny to partly sunny locations.
Care of Plants
Once marigold flowers are established in the garden or in containers, they will need very little care. In the garden, you will need to water only if the weather has been dry for two weeks. If they are in containers, water daily as containers tend to dry out quickly. Fertilising monthly with water soluble fertiliser will increase the plant and flower size; however, it will do just fine without this extra care. Dead heading (removing dead blossoms) will increase the number of blooms and lengthen the blooming season.
The marigold flower has a strong, unpleasant fragrance that gardeners have traditionally used to repel pests from the garden. Insects, rodents, rabbits and deer do not like the fragrance of the marigold and will stay away from the garden. Plant a hedge or perimeter of these flowers around your vegetable garden to keep the pests out.