Introducing Marigolds Can Bring A Burst of Seasonal Color To Your Landscaping
Common but colorful, inexpensive and easy to grow, marigolds have been called the workhorse of the garden where they’ll bloom non-stop until our first frost.
There are three types of marigolds:
- French marigolds are smaller growing, can be single and double and come in red, yellow, orange brown and combinations of all three
- African marigolds are taller growing with “puff ball” flowers, usually in sold yellow or orange
- Triploid marigolds are a cross of the French and African species. They are non-stop bloomers with 3-inch flower heads in gold, yellow, red and russet.
The leaves of all marigolds are dark green, deeply divided and have a somewhat unpleasant, aroma.
Marigolds are considered bedding plants and are annuals-plants that are grown from seed, produce flowers and seed and die in one growing season.
Marigolds require very little care once planted and can brighten up your garden bed all year long, at least until our first frost. They perform best in full sun
Marigolds are not fussy and will adapt to most garden soils. Buy plants when you’re ready and plant them as soon as possible (within 24 hours) because allowing bedding plants to remain in their original containers for a long period after they’ve been purchased may affect their performance. Look for young, healthy, disease- and insect-free plants with dark green foliage. It is not necessary that plants are in bloom when purchased.
Bedding plants purchased in compartmentalized plastic flats usually have pot-bound root systems. If planted intact, the root system will be slow to establish in the surrounding soil and plants will suffer moisture stress. A preferred method is to loosen and untangle the root system without breaking the soil ball. Plants will usually recover rapidly and become established quickly
Set plants at about the same depth that they grew in their containers. Make sure that the topmost roots are covered with about 1/4 inch of soil, but avoid piling soil or mulch up around the main stem. Space plants four to six inches apart, depending on their size. For example, if you like the giant variety of marigold, make sure they are one to two feet apart.
Plants should be watered immediately after planting and daily until they have become established. After establishment, they should be watered on an “as needed” basis. Water applied by an overhead sprinkler system can cause the flowers to rot or deteriorate rapidly.
Marigolds love a general- purpose fertilizer once a month. Be sure to work the fertilizer in around the plants in such a way as to avoid direct contact between the stems and the fertilizer. Apply fertilizer to damp soil.
Think about using controlled release fertilizer, ideal for the Space Coast’s sandy soils. Plants usually grow much better with a continuous nutrient supply, and labor is reduced since controlled release fertilizer application frequency is less than for rapid release fertilizers. Controlled release fertilizers can be incorporated uniformly throughout the soil before planting and applied on the soil surface of established plantings.
Regular removal of faded flowers will promote continuous blooming and help plants look their best. Pinching out the first central flower bud will produce bushier plants.
Plants should be monitored frequently for insects and diseases. Infestations detected in the early stages can be controlled by spot treatment before the entire flower bed is infested. An insect infestation on a few plants can be controlled by picking insects off by hand or in the case of disease, by removing infected leaves. For severe infestations, chemical control will be needed.
Marigolds themselves may aid repelling garden pests. Many maintain their roots repel nematodes, so planting them interspersed in your vegetable garden serves as a natural nematode control. The smell of the marigold flower is quite pungent and is believed to confuses flying insects, which aids in repelling pests. Marigolds are commonly planted beneath tomato plants and bell peppers to repel white flies. The smell also seems to repel carrot flies, which often attack garden carrots.
Once you have marigolds in your garden, you never have to buy seeds again because they produce their own. When blooms dry out, cut them and hang them upside down. Since the seeds are in the flower’s head, after they are dried, they can be hand crushed lightly and planted.
You can also cut a branch off an established plant. Place the cutting in water and wait until roots grow (this takes several weeks). When there are plenty of developed roots, plant.
Also keep in mind that marigolds are perfect for container gardening where they combine well with other plants.