Did You Know? Marigolds were first discovered by the Portuguese in Central America in the 16th century.
Marigolds are hardy, annual plants and are great plants for cheering up any garden. Broadly, there are two genuses which are referred to by the common name, Marigolds viz. Tagetes and Celandula. Tagetes includes African Marigolds and French Marigolds. Celandula includes Pot Marigolds.
- Tagetes, Calendula
Marigolds come in different colors, yellow and orange being the most common. Most of the marigolds have strong, pungent odor and have great value in cosmetic treatment. There are many varieties of Marigolds available today. Some of the major Marigold varieties are listed below:
- African or American Marigolds (Tagetes erecta): These marigolds are tall, erect-growing plants up to three feet in height. The flowers are globe-shaped and large. Flowers may measure up to 5 inches across. African Marigolds are very good bedding plants. These flowers are yellow to orange and do not include red colored Marigolds. The Africans take longer to reach flowering stage than the French type.
- French Marigolds (Tagetes patula): Marigold cultivars in this group grow 5 inches to 18 inches high. Flower colors are red, orange and yellow. Red and orange bicolor patterns are also found. Flowers are smaller (2 inches across). French Marigolds are ideal for edging flowerbeds and in mass plantings. They also do well in containers and window boxes.
- Signet Marigolds (T. signata ‘pumila’): The signet Marigolds produce compact plants with finely divided, lacy foliage and clusters of small, single flowers. They have yellow to orange colored, edible flowers. The flowers of signet marigolds have a spicy tarragon flavor. The foliage has a pleasant lemon fragrance. Signet Marigolds are excellent plants for edging beds and in window boxes.
- Mule Marigolds: These marigolds are the sterile hybrids of tall African and dwarf French marigolds, hence known as mule Marigolds. Most triploid cultivars grow from 12 to 18 inches high. Though they have the combined qualities of their parents, their rate of germination is low.
Facts About Marigolds
- Marigold (Calendula) is an extremely effective herb for the treatment of skin problems and can be used wherever there is inflammation of the skin, whether due to infection or physical damage; for example, crural ulceration, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, mastitis, sebaceous cysts, impetigo or other inflamed cutaneous lesions.
- As an ointment, Marigold (Calendula) is an excellent cosmetic remedy for repairing minor damage to the skin such as sub dermal broken capillaries or sunburn. The sap from the stem is reputed to remove warts, corns and calluses.
- In the 12th century Macer wrote that merely looking at the Marigold plant would improve the eyesight and lighten the mood.
- In South Asia, bright yellow and orange Marigold flowers are used in their thousands and placed in garlands and to decorate religious statues and buildings. They are also used as offerings and decoration at funerals, weddings and other ceremonies.
- Pigments in Marigolds are sometimes extracted and used as a food coloring for humans and livestock.
Propagating and Growing Marigolds
Marigolds can be propagated by seeds. The plants need about 45 days to flower after seeding. Marigold seeds should be sown 2 cm apart. Cover seeds with 1/4 inch of potting soil. Water sufficiently. Plants will appear within a few days. When true leaves have formed, transplant into individual containers or outdoors.
Marigolds are robust, non-fussy plants that bring a lot of sunshine in your garden. Marigolds can be grown easily.
- Plant your seeds in half-sunny or sunny locations.
- The soil must be well-drained, moist and fertile.
- Add potash fertilizers to prolong the flowering period.
- Pinch off the first flowers before they open. This will lead to a larger number of flowers.
Care for Marigolds
Marigolds have a pungent odor which keeps insects at bay, but they can be bothered by slugs. Also, tall American and Triploid Marigold varieties need staking to protect them from strong winds and heavy rainfall. Learn more on growing and taking care of Marigolds.
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