Growing Marigold Flowers
Perk up Your Garden's Ambiance with Dazzling Marigold Blooms
Seeing sun-kissed marigold flowers sashaying gently with the cool summer breeze is so serene and beautiful. Marigolds are cheerful flowering plants reflecting the bright summer colors of compact yellow, orange, white, rusty reds/ burgundy, and bi-colors. They come in different sizes, from tiny to oversize.
That’s right! These beautiful annual plants can grow from six inches tall to 4-feet high! Marigolds blossom profusely from mid-summer to the first frost of autumn.
You might get confused because Marigolds resemble other flowers like daisies and carnations. Well, Marigolds are actually classified in the genus Calendula with about 20 species.
Calendula is a part of the Aster family, so no wonder why Marigolds have similar appearance to many Aster flowers including African Daisy, Zinnia, Tansy and Dogweed. The most common varieties of Marigold are Mexican Marigold, Pot Marigold and Field Marigold.
What’s interesting about these summer blooms though is that their musky smell repels insects. Many gardeners grow them next to other garden pants and vegetable crops to keep pests away. Most marigolds are found outdoors since the pungent odor may be too strong indoors.
Marigolds are propagated by seed. The seeds are black and white and about a half inch in size. No green thumbs are needed here as the seed is easy to sprout whether propagated directly in the garden or in flats/shallow dish 6 weeks before the last frost. The seeds should germinate in 3-5 days at 75°F to 80°F. Marigolds are not fragile and will germinate in diverse soil conditions. However, moisture is necessary. Water the growing seeds and keep them moist but provide a good drainage. Sprinkle the seeds an inch apart over prepared soil and cover lightly with soil. Thin the smaller varieties to approximately 6-10 inches and the tall varieties to about 12 inches as the seedlings emerge.
Transplant marigold plants outdoors after the last frost date for your location. Allow 4-6 inches spacing for miniature varieties and 1-2 feet apart for giant varieties.
Growing Marigold Flowers
Marigolds are one of the easiest bedding plants to cultivate. They love rich and well drained soil. But since these bright blooms are not fussy, they stand average to slightly poor soils. Improve your soil quality by adding plenty of compost. Marigolds love full sun and they will not bloom if they are not given at least 6 hours of sun daily.
Marigolds are tough plants and taller varieties can withstand hard rains and strong winds. Once established, they even grow healthy even if left unattended. Nevertheless, an extra care will promote optimum flowering and long-lasting blooms from the start of the season all the way to the end. Water them once or twice a week during dry periods. Cut off dead flower heads every week and add mulch around the plants to keep the weeds down.
If you see signs of slowing down during mid-summer, add a general purpose fertilizer to cheer them up again. A fertilizer that contains high amounts of nitrogen is not recommended because it will generate more foliage rather than flowers. Container plants must be fertilized monthly.
Marigolds may tolerate light frost but they will not survive hard frost at all. Moreover, be cautious of the disease called, “aster yellows”. This may attack marigolds causing the plants to become dwarfed. If affected, a marigold plant will get sickly-yellow new shoots and greenish blooms. Pull out the affected plants.