Marigolds are a half hardy flower which these days come in many different colours and sizes.
Flowers come in shades of orange, yellow, red, and bi-colours with single and double flowers to choose from.
In Africa the marigolds are tall with big flowers whereas the french varieties are smaller and produce masses of smaller blooms.
Marigolds like full sun although they can also grow in areas of partial sunlight as long as most of the day is in full sun.
Other than one would normally expect marigolds prefer a poorer soil than a rich soil. They tend to flower better when the soil is poor.
Marigolds in bloom
How to plant Marigolds
There are a number of ways to plant marigolds.
You can sow seeds directly into your garden once the soil starts warming up in early spring or if you are in area where you get frost a month to 6 weeks before the last spring-frost date is expected.
Sprinkle seeds over a shallow box or container filled with damp soil less potting mix and cover with a 1/4 inch layer of the mixture. Seeds will germinate in 3 to 4 days if the daytime temperature is around 60degrees Fahrenheit. Once the seeds have sprouted keep them moist.
After about 10 days they are ready to be transplanted into your garden or into growing containers. At this stage the seedlings should be around 5cm tall and have five or six leaves.
Plants that are being planted in containers should be planted in a soil based potting mixture and should be watered freely during the growing season. Seedlings should be fed weekly with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
Marigolds although they grow when transplanted do not like to be transplanted once they are older.
Once your seedlings are five centimetres tall or have about six leaves on the plant it is time for them to be transplanted either into the ground or containers. Plant marigolds that are going directly into the ground in full sun in a well composted bed.
If you are planting the African marigold (crackerjack) which is a large variety plant them at the back of your bed about two to three feet apart. The smaller french varieties can be planted about 12 inches apart in rows.
How to care for your marigold plants
To keep your marigolds flowering throughout the flowering season dead head the flowers regularly.
Marigolds unfortunately attract pests such as cutworms and snails and slugs.
To protect them from cut worms and snails plant your seeding inside the cardboard core of a toilet roll. You can cut them in half so that the core is about three inches long and protects the stem of the plant from the worms which emerge at night to feed.
Insects avoid marigolds as they do not like their pungent scent. Smell a marigold and you will see what I mean.
Marigolds being used as companion plants to cabbages
Uses for marigolds:
Marigolds make good companion plants especially in vegetable gardens as they tend to chase away insects which attack your vegetables. Not only does the scent of the marigold repel animals and insects, but the underground workings of the marigold will repel nematodes (microscopic worms) and other pests for up to 3 years.
You can mince up the leaves and flowers of the marigold and make an insect repellant spray to spray on your vegetables.
The flowers can be cut and used as cut flowers in your home.
Marigold flowers are edible and can be used to spice up salads in the summer months.
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Page updated 14.3.2017