All about Marigolds and How to Grow Them
Most home gardeners like to have beautiful flowers with pleasant fragrance. That’s why they tend to think twice before growing marigolds which have pungent foliage. But, they love growing this flowering plant as a companion to other plants. It is because marigolds’ fragrance can repel certain pests. Therefore, if you are growing vegetables in your garden, you must know how to plant marigold seeds.
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Get to Know More about Marigolds
This particular flowering plant is an excellent companion plant. It has bold and beautiful flowers. And most importantly, the marigold protects your vegetable plants from various insects and nematodes. There are many more facts about this flower you must know before you start the process of how to plant marigold seeds. Here are some of them.
1. Origin of Marigolds
Marigolds are indigenous to South America, southwestern regions of North America, and Tropical America. They grow in the wilds in these areas. In 1600s, these flowering plants are introduced to Northern Africa and Europe. People in these continents planted them in their garden despite its fragrance.
In Spain, this flower was placed in the Virgin Mary’s altar. That’s why it was acknowledged as Mary’s gold or marigold. Eventually, these plants were spread to India and other countries. In India, these flowers gained certain religious importance and called Friendship Flower. Moreover, marigolds finally became a garden flower in North America.
2. Description of Marigold Plants
Marigolds are plants of the genus of Tagetes. The name Tagetes itself is taken from an Etruscan god, Tages. This god was born from a ploughed field. It is said that the plants are named Tagetes because the seeds of these flowering plants are very easy to plant.
There are about 50 species of Tagetes or marigold. Most of them are annual plants. However, there are few perennial marigolds that you can plant. These plants have pinnate leaves. They are oval and not big. Certain species of marigold can grow up to 2 m tall. But, if you don’t have enough space, you can choose a smaller variety of marigolds whose height is about 30 cm tall.
The flowers of these plants are available in several choices of colors. They are yellow, red, white, and orange. Moreover, these flowers look attractive with its countless petals and spherical shape. In average, their size is about 4 cm to 6 cm wide. Some of these flowers bloom in clusters and some others are not. You will likely see the blooms from late June until the cold kills the plants.
Marigold leaves are widely known for its pungent aroma. However, it turns out that this scent is useful for gardeners. It can repel various pests. Moreover, it can also repel rabbit and other animals. Therefore, it is no wonder that many gardeners grow marigolds around their vegetable plants.
The best companies for marigolds are eggplants, cucumbers, corns, lettuce, tomatoes, and pumpkins. The pungent scent of marigold will keep the pests away from those plants. However, if you want to grow these flowering plants for its flowers but dislike the scent, you don’t need to worry. There are certain cultivars that have no fragrance.
3. The Right Growing Condition for Marigolds
Marigold plants require certain growing conditions to grow well. In consequence, you need to meet these requirements before you start the process of how to plant marigold seeds. These are several things that you need to pay attention at when preparing the growing environment for marigold.
Marigolds are tolerant to various types of soil. You can plant them in loamy, sandy, or clay soil. However, you need to make sure that the soil has good drainage. If it is not well-drained, these plants will suffer from root rot.
Moreover, the soil must be moderately fertile. If the soil in your garden is not fertile enough, you need to add slow-release fertilizer in the soil at the planting time. Therefore, your marigolds will get enough nutrients to grow.
In addition, the soil in which you plant them must have the right acidity level. Marigold plants love soil which is neutral. Therefore, you need to make sure that your garden soil has pH of 7. If it is too acidic, you can mix the soil with lime. But, if your soil is too alkaline, you need aluminum sulfate to neutralize it.
Your marigold plants will grow healthily if you plant them under the full sunshine. These plants are even considered to be tolerant to drought. Therefore, they can grow well during a long hot summer.
Actually, you can also grow them in more shaded areas. But, lack of sunshine will affect their flowering. Moreover, it will also cause them to be less resistant to pests and diseases. Therefore, if you plan to grow them in pots, you need to make sure that you place them in sunny place.
Since marigold comes from areas with warm climates, it is no wonder that they are not too hardy. However, with the right methods of how to plant marigold seeds and how to take care of these plants, they can be planted in cool areas. Marigolds are suitable to USDA hardiness zones 2 to 11.
This particular plant requires moderate amount of water. You don’t need to keep the soil stay moist when the plant is mature. It is okay to have dry soil between watering. However, it may need more water during extreme hot weather. In addition, you must water them at the base of the plant to avoid diseases.
4. Best Time to Plant Marigolds
The best time to plant marigold seeds is in the spring. These seeds will germinate successfully when the soil is warm enough, between 15o C and 21o C. Many gardeners suggest you to sow the seeds directly to the ground because they are easy to grow. Doing it will free you from the process of transplanting
However, if you live in a cooler climate you can sow the seeds indoors. Sow the seeds in cups a few weeks before the danger of frost has passed. Later on, you can transplant the seedlings in your garden or larger pots.
5. Marigold Species and Varieties
There are many marigold species and varieties that you can plant. Some of them can grow tall. Meanwhile, others are shorter and can be planted in containers. Moreover, they also have some different characteristics. Therefore, you must know how to plant marigold seeds for each of species you want to plant.
These are some marigold species and varieties that you can choose.
This particular species of marigold is actually originated from America. However, it is naturalized in North Africa. When the British came to this region centuries ago, they mistakenly called it African marigold. However, some people also call it American marigold. Meanwhile, it is scientifically named as Tagetes erecta.
This species of marigold can grow up to 1.5 tall. Moreover, it is also pretty wide. It will thrive in hot and sunny climate. In addition, this annual plant is also more tolerant to drought. African marigolds produce beautiful blooms. They are yellow, white, and orange. Some varieties from this species are gold coin, French vanilla, safari, and jubilee.
This species is more compact compared to African marigold. Its height is between 15 cm and 60 cm tall. However, it can grow wider than their height. This plant has yellow, red, and orange large blooms. Some of them are even bicolor. Moreover, they can also be used in perfumery and cooking.
French marigold is scientifically named as Tagetes patula. This annual requires full sun to grow well. Moreover, it is drought tolerant. This particular flowering plant is good for you who want to plant marigold in containers. Some varieties from this species are aurora, little hero, bonanza, and Janie.
This is one of the perennial marigolds that you can plant. Mexican marigold is scientifically named as Tagetes lemmonii. This shrub is not suitable for your bedding plant due to its size. This species can grow up to 2 m tall. Moreover, it is suitable for hardiness zones 8 to 11.
Mexican marigold plats will give you yellow blooms in short-day seasons, i.e. fall and winter. Moreover, these fragrant blooms have different shape from common marigolds. They are almost like daisy. Mexican marigold grows best in full sun. In addition, they require well-drained soil and moderate watering.
However, this particular species is tolerant to drought. And the best thing about them is that they can be propagated easily by stem cuttings. The cuttings will sprout roots quickly.
This flowering plant is scientifically known as Tagetes tenuifolia. It is much smaller than other marigold species. Its height is only about 30 cm. This annual plant has fragrant blooms and foliage.
The blooms are yellow, orange, and crimson. They will bloom in the summer until the first frost date. In addition, their shape is not similar to common marigold blooms. This particular plant does not only make your garden attractive. But, its flowers can be used in your cooking.
Different cultures use marigolds differently. Indians and Mexicans use these flowers in certain religious events. Meanwhile, people in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador use marigold leaves and flowers for cooking. In addition, some people use marigold flowers in their salads and tea. However, not all marigold species are edible.
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How to Plant Marigold Seeds
The process of how to plant marigold seeds is not difficult to do. That’s why marigold will not become a challenge for beginners in gardening. This particular plant is not only good for beginners. But, it is also perfect for you who want to protect your vegetable plants from pests.
For this purpose, some gardeners recommend you to plant them on the border of your vegetable plants. But, others suggest you to plant them before you grow the vegetable plants. They said that this crop rotation will help you protect the vegetable plants more effectively.
Whichever you choose, you need to follow these steps of how to plant marigold seeds in order to be successful in planting the plants.
1. Site Preparation
Before you plant marigold seeds, you need to prepare the soil at the planting site. These are some tips you can follow in preparing the site.
- Dig the soil 15 cm deep, remove stones and dirt, and loosen the soil.
- Water the soil, but don’t make it soggy
- Make some planting holes 2 cm deep and 3 cm apart.
- Add slow-release fertilizer at the bottom of the planting holes. The fertilizer must be low in nitrogen.
- If you are planning to plant marigold in containers, you need to prepare the pots and potting mix. Moreover, you also need to mix the potting mix with slow-release granular fertilizer.
2. Planting The Seeds
The next step in how to plant marigold seeds is planting the seeds. This step is very easy. Moreover, these seeds have excellent germination rate in warmer temperature. Therefore, you don’t need to be worried that you will be failed in doing it. These are some of the things you need to do in sowing the seeds.
- Place a seed in each of the holes.
- Sprinkle the seeds with soil.
- Check the seeds regularly. If the soil looks dry, moist it
- You will likely see the seeds germinate after four days of planting. But, if the soil is not warm enough, they will take more time to germinate.
- When the plants are still young, thin them so that they are 20 cm apart for smaller marigolds and 30 cm apart for taller marigolds.
- The plants will bloom in about 8 weeks.
3. Caring for The Plants
These are some of the things you need to do in taking care of your marigolds.
- Pinch off the marigold plants’ tops when they have established. If you do it will help the plants grow bushier and stronger.
- Some gardeners perform deadheading on marigold. Removing the dying flowers will make the plants look more beautiful. Moreover, doing it will help the plants to keep flowering. However, if you want to keep some marigold seeds for next season planting, you need to let some flowers died and dried.
- These flowering plants require moderate to low amount of water. Therefore, you can let the soil dry between watering.
- While the plants in their growing season, you don’t need to fertilize them. Therefore, it is better to fertilize the soil at the time of planting or when the plants are still seedlings.
Growing marigolds can be very beneficial to your kitchen garden. Therefore, it is a must for every home gardeners to know the steps of how to plant marigold seeds. When you buy marigold seeds, you must not mistakenly choose pot marigolds. It is actually Calendula and not Tagetes. As a result, you will not be able to protect your vegetable plants if you grow them.
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