Marigold is adored by many gardeners because they are easy to grow, drought tolerant and generally undisturbed by pests. Marigold comes in many different forms – from tall plants suitable for vegetable or summer garden to dwarf varieties suitable for borders and containers. The main types are
Tagetes patula – They are also called as french marigold. These are compact plants suitable for vegetable garden. They won’t compete with other plants for space.
Tagetes erecta – They are called African Marigold or American marigold. The plants grow tall reaching three to four feet and thrives well in hot and dry conditions.
Tagetes tenuifolia – These are also called signet marigolds. The gem series is popular for its edible flowers.
Calendula officinalis – Their English counterpart, also called as pot marigold is also planted as a companion plant in vegetable garden. They are also used in herbal teas and salves.
French and American Marigolds are widely grown for companion planting and also for pest management.
I started growing these plants because somewhere I read the flower fragrance makes the bugs repel. Once the flowers started blooming it was completely true. I was fighting with all these bugs in tomato plants and peppers. I think the scent of the flower is offensive (to me as well) to some pests. Another theory says the pungent smell of these plants will attract the beneficial insects whose larvae would devour the bad bugs. The good news is the bees will love the flowers.
The plants can be started indoors or can be sown directly after the frost. The seeds will sprout in like three to five days. These plants can’t tolerate frost, so grown as annuals. Container plants require watering when the potting soil feels dry. Marigolds self seed themselves prolifically leaving enough for the next season.
Lots of different varieties including Hybrids are also available in garden center, you will have lots of options to choose from. This year I got the strawberry blonde for the cheering summer colors.