AT A GLANCE
Height: Dwarf 6 to 12 inches,
Giant 1 y 2 to 3 feet A/B/P, Hardiness: half-hardy annual
Spacing: Dwarf, 4 per square; Giant, 1 per square
Growing Season Spring: no Summer: yes Fall: yes Winter: no
Seed to Flower: 10 weeks Seeds Storage: 2 to 3 years Weeks to Maturity: 3 to 4 weeks Indoor Seed Starting: 6 to 8 weeks before last spring frost Earliest Outdoor Planting: at last frost date Additional Plantings: not needed Last Planting: not needed
Just about everyone will recognize the pompom flowers of the marigold. The most common flower colors are orange, yellow, and red/orange bicolor, but they can be found in burgundy, red, and even a creamy white. Flowers can be single, double, or crested, and between 1 and 6 inches in diameter. Marigold leaves are distinctive— slim and lacy—and give ofTa pungent scent when cut or crushed.
The smaller marigold plants are sometimes called French marigolds, but all marigolds are native to subtropical America and have been grown in Mexico for thousands of years. The dwarf plants ranges in size from 6 to 8 inches tall. Don't be fooled by the name— dwarf refers to the plant size, not necessarily the flower size.
The larger marigold plants are known as African marigolds, but like their smaller cousins, they are indigenous to the Americas. Giant marigolds can grow up to 3 feet tall and are a stunning addition to a sunny garden. Although the plants themselves are large, the flowers can range from small to huge.
Marigolds are said to discourage nematodes when planted near tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, strawberries, or roses, especially if they are grown for several seasons in soil where nematodes are suspected. Marigolds also repel the Mexican bean beetle when planted around bean plants. Japanese beetles are attracted to the odorless varieties of marigolds, where they can be trapped and drowned in soapy water. Slugs love to eat marigolds. They may go for your marigolds before your vegetables, so marigolds will not repel them.
Basil and Beyond
Location: Grow in a sunny location.
Seeds Indoors: Marigold seeds will germinate in about 7 to 14 days, ideal for a child's first foray into the wonders of growing plants from seeds.
Transplanting: After last frost date.
Watering: Weekly, 1 cup per plant when young, 2 cups per plant when larger. Don t let marigolds dry out—the plants will wilt and die quickly, and the stress will attract insects and diseases.
Maintenance: Pinch the growing tips back when the plant reaches about 3 inches tall to encourage bushiness. Pinch or snap off spent blooms to prolong flowering.
How: When thinking of flowers to cut for the vase, marigolds don't immediately spring to mind. However, they make a cute bouquet that can last for 7 to 14 days, as long as the stems are not bent. Marigold stems are short, so try to cut where the flower stem meets a main stem. Remove the leaves that will be under water. To reduce the aroma, add a spoonful of sugar to the water.
When: Cut marigolds when the flowers are one-half to three-quarters open. Fully open marigolds will die quickly in the vase.
Botrytis blight, wilt, slugs, mites.
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