Marigolds are vibrant and cheery annual plants that are rapid growers and require very little care. Their fernlike leaves add texture to gardens, while their blooms put on a nonstop display of color all summer long. Marigolds are an edible plant, and they also have a unique scent that makes them a sought-after companion plant, deterring pests while accenting the garden landscape. Discover how to successfully utilize marigold, how to care for and grow, companion plant, and more. Check out the benefits of making them a staple in your garden year after year.
Marigold: How to Care For & Grow
Marigolds are easy to care for and grow as they germinate quickly and can be directly sown into the garden bed. Sow seeds directly into the ground, planting seeds ½ inch deep and 10 inches apart. Seedlings are quick to emerge within 5 to 10 days after planting. You can also get a jump start on your marigold plants by starting seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost.
Best Soil and pH for Growing Marigold
Marigolds are agreeable to most garden soils and need very little maintenance to thrive. When planting, the soil should be well-draining and fall somewhere between 6.0 and 7.0 on the pH scale.
How Far Apart to Plant Marigolds
Marigolds can vary significantly in how tall they grow, which will impact how far apart to plant them as they range anywhere from 12 inches to 4 feet in height. Some of their blooms can fill four inches of colorful glory, so spacing is important. Compact varieties should be planted or thinned out to be 8 to 10 inches apart, while taller varieties should be spaced at least 10 to 12 inches apart.
How Do You Water Marigold Plants?
The question, how do you water marigold plants will undoubly come up as you begin to care for them. It is essential to maintain moist soil both when you plant seeds and when plants are young. Over time, root systems will develop, and you can water them less frequently. Depending on your area’s weather, you may need to water them every day until the roots are better established. As plants mature, they are more drought-resistant and require much less direct care. For best results and continuous blooms, deadhead spent flowers regularly.
How Much Light Do Marigolds Need?
You may be wondering, how much light do marigolds need? Grow these reliable bloomers in an area of full sun that receives a minimum of 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. Marigolds are resilient and hardy plants and can withstand a wide scale of temperatures and climates.
Common Marigold Pests and Diseases
Marigolds can be plagued with powdery mildew in damp conditions or in areas of high humidity. For the best chance of avoiding this bothersome disease, space your plants adequately for proper airflow and be sure that your plants receive plenty of sunlight.
Powdery mildew can also be combatted with a mixture of a gallon of water, ½ cup of baking soda, and a few tablespoons of dish soap. Spritzing this mixture on marigold plants at the first sign of disease will help to eradicate the fungus and keep it from spreading to other plants.
Luckily, pests tend to be repelled by marigold plants, which is a prime reason they are sought after as companion plants in vegetable and flower gardens. Slugs are one of the biggest pests that feed on marigolds.
Marigold Companion Plants
Companion planting means placing different plants near one another in a garden bed for mutually beneficial reasons. This practice can enhance your garden design’s attractiveness, fight common pests, attract beneficial insects, attract pollinators, and amplify many vegetables’ overall flavor. Interplanting plants like marigolds with vegetables and individual flowers can bolster each other can significantly improve productivity in your garden.
Marigolds have a reputation for protecting vegetable gardens from pests, making them a best friend to gardeners. They have a scent that deters rabbits and other nibblers and also masks the smell of other crops and flowers, providing a shield of protection from pests.
They have been beneficial against destructive:
- potato beetles
- flea beetles
- corn earworms
- Japanese beetles
- squash beetles
Marigolds release a chemical into the soil that repels damaging nematodes as well.
Interplant marigolds with:
Additionally, marigolds attract beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies to the garden, which are essential for plant reproduction. But not all insects that they attract are beneficial. Slugs also seek out marigolds, so they can be used as a trap crop to lure damaging slugs away from fruits and vegetables that they may otherwise seek to destroy.
Marigolds come in vibrant yellow, red, and orange hues, which can be beautifully paired with complementary colors of other flowers in the garden landscape. Try interplanting marigolds with allium, coreopsis, roses, salvia, bachelor buttons, lavender, and geranium plants for eye-catching appeal.
Are Marigolds Edible?
It might surprise you to know that marigolds are flowers you can eat and can be added freely to teas, soups, salads, or as edible garnishes. They add tremendous color and vibrancy to any dish and provide a mild peppery flavor that has a hint of tanginess. Marigold blossoms are quite pleasing to both the eyes and the palate and are known in some cultures to have medicinal value.
How to Collect and Store Marigold Seeds
Toward the end of summer, stop deadheading your marigold plants and allow the blooms to dry on their stems. Marigolds are great for seed saving because each blossom is filled with a gold mine of seeds that can be dried, harvested, and stored for planting next spring.
To harvest, remove blossoms when the base is still a little bit green. Gently remove the petals and foliage, leaving behind the seed pod. Peel open the seed pod and uncover the long bi-colored slender seed bundles inside. Separate the seeds and spread them out on a dry paper towel and allow them to dry out for a week or so. Once the seeds are firm and dry, store them in a baggie or envelope in a cool, dry place.
Recommended Marigold Varieties
- ‘Discovery Orange’
- ‘Starfire Mix’
- ‘Orange Flame’
- ‘Tiger Eyes’