Take Another Look at Marigolds

March 1, 2015 lawanda Newspaper Columns

Marigolds have long held a place in flower beds, so much so that they have almost become overused. Still, they are perfect for formal beds, as they know their bounds and are clean, neat and upright, never sprawling in an ungainly manner or becoming leggy and untidy. Beginning gardeners often turn to marigolds because they are so easy to grow both from nursery plants and seed. Marigolds are tough, low-maintenance annual flowers that bloom cheerfully throughout the summer and continue even after light autumn frosts.

Last summer, Master Gardener Mary Jo Maher designed the most beautiful garden with marigolds that I have ever seen. It was located in the flower bed inside the circle drive outside the entrance to the Neenah Library. Her design incorporated bright orange and darker colored marigolds interwoven in a chain-link fashion around the edge of the circle. It was spectacular!

Another place to enjoy some marigold magic every year is along South Oneida Street in Appleton near St. Elizabeth Hospital. The Mile of Marigolds planted along the curbs of homes and businesses is beautiful all summer.

Marigolds come in a variety of bright, sunny colors, including yellow, orange, gold, copper, brass, mahogany, crimson, maroon and ivory. Varieties range from 10” to 35” tall. The tallest may need staking to withstand strong winds.

Marigolds prefer a sunny spot in the ground or in containers. At the nursery, look for plants with many unopened buds rather than those already in full bloom. To grow from seed, scatter seeds atop the soil and lightly rake them in. Gently firm the soil with your hands or the flat end of a hoe and keep it moist until seeds germinate within just a few days. Thin plants to from a few inches apart for shorter varieties to 18” apart for taller ones. Depending on the variety you have chosen, you may see flowers within several weeks.

Too much fertilizer will cause lush leaf growth at the expense of flowers. Marigolds won’t need extra watering once established, unless it is exceedingly dry. In that case, try to direct the water at the roots, rather than from overhead.

Seeds can be saved from year to year. The flowers will turn brown and form inch-long tubular seed heads that hang downward and hold many long, thin seeds. Snap seed heads off and lay them to dry on newspaper or paper towels for a few days before storing them in a cool, dry place over winter.

Along with their cheerful beauty, marigolds have other attributes. Planted among vegetable crops, their distinctive scent repels animals and other insects and their roots repel underground creepy crawlies called nematodes. They are especially effective alongside beans, cabbage, cucumbers, strawberries and tomatoes.

Marigold flowers are edible and add a bright topping to summer salads. There is even a variety called ‘Gem Series’ bred specifically for eating. Hundreds of bite-sized flowers colored red, tangerine or lemon cover mounded 10” plants.

Take another look at marigolds this year!

AnnualsFlowers


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by http://wordpress.org/ and http://www.hqpremiumthemes.com/