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Marigold Basics

 

Choose marigolds for no fuss, sun loving border and edging plants

Marigolds are fast growers and love the sun. They make great edging plants even along sidewalks. With perky colors and bushy growth, they can tolerate about any type of soil conditions (preferring well-drained) as long as they receive plenty of water.

Seeds do not require indoor germination. Plant them directly in the ground about one or two inches apart. They can be thinned to about ten inches apart as they begin to crowd each other. This will be true in container marigolds as well.

The varieties you'll find at garden centers include French marigold and African Gold. The African marigolds may grow as tall as three feet. They produce large flowers, but are slower growing than the French species. French marigolds grow to twenty inches in height. The blooms are produced in a wider range of colors and are more compact than the Africans. Several species now exist - called "triploids" - that are combination of French and African varieties. These are grown in the U.S., despite the misleading names. Wild and cultivated marigolds also are spread throughout Central America and into Argentina.

Many hybrids abound that are showy and just as easy to grow. These also make wonderful cut arrangements. Keep in mind that many marigolds exude a very strong scent that some may find unpleasant (there are some odorless varieties). They are also referred to as "companion" plants as they repel insects. Many gardeners include marigolds in and around tomato plants, for instance. Precautions should be taken for slug activity as these have a fondness for destroying marigolds.

Marigolds can be easily dried. Just cut and hang upside down in a warm dry place. They'll retain their color in the process.

With proper care, these delightful annuals will present showy flowers through summer and well into fall.

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