Depending on the variety, the marigold has single or double yellow, red or orange flowers that enrich the garden throughout the summer from June to October. Hobby gardeners not only cultivate them as ornaments in beds, but also as cut flowers for the vase and as an ideal meadow for bees and butterflies. The marigold has also earned a good reputation in medicine. Above all, however, it is an indispensable part of the typical cottage gardens and flower meadows.
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Sow from May to October
As a rule, the marigold seeds are sown directly in the bed as soon as there is no longer any fear of ground frost, from mid-May. The flowers prefer a full sun to partial shade. The marigold does not make any special demands on the nature of the soil and also grows in poor and nutrient-poor soil, as long as there is no waterlogging. If the sowing takes place in a nutrient-rich and humus-rich soil, some sand and loam is worked into the bed. In this way it becomes more permeable and airy so that the roots of the flowers can develop there quickly. The sowing itself then takes place in the following steps:
The earth is loosened with a rake or dug up with a shovel.
Long furrows about 3 cm deep are made with the spade in the smoothed bed soil.
In these furrows, the seeds are inserted 2 cm to 3 cm deep into the ground at a distance of 10 cm to 15 cm and lightly covered with soil.
The freshly created bed is now lightly watered, whereby a watering can with an irrigation attachment is best suited so that the water does not ripple and the seeds possibly wash away.
The seeds germinate after just a few days and can be pricked or transplanted as soon as they have reached a size of around 10 cm. If you want marigolds to bloom as early as possible in your garden in spring, you can sow in October. Once planted, the marigolds will multiply themselves, provided that some withered plants remain in the bed in autumn. In addition, the flowers provide the seeds for the next season by removing the seed pods from them in autumn and storing them in a cool and dry place over the winter.
Sow in the planter
Thanks to its bushy growth habit, the marigold is very well suited to be sown in pots and flower boxes. Conventional potting soil serves as the substrate, which may be made a touch more permeable with a little sand and clay for the healthy growth of the flower roots. The drainage hole, which prevents the formation of waterlogging through irrigation water, is decisive for successful sowing in the planter. So that this opening is not filled in and clogged by the substrate, there is a drainage system over it, which can consist of gravel, granulate or pottery shards. A piece of weed control is also suitable for this purpose.
Plants after cultivation
In principle, early sowing of marigolds in the bed is possible as early as March; However, there is a risk that ground frost will damage the seeds because they can still occur until mid-May. Experienced hobby gardeners therefore prefer the marigolds in the house or in the greenhouse and after the ice saints plant the young marigolds in the garden. The cultivation can already begin in January or February, because then in April or May vigorous marigold plants come into the bed. During the cultivation phase, it is important to ensure that the substrate is sufficiently moist and poor in nutrients, as the water requirement is slightly higher due to the higher temperatures. Lukewarm rainwater and stale tap water are perfect as irrigation water. Regularly ventilating the greenhouse or the growing container covered with foil prevents the formation of mold or fungus. Since the seeds of the marigolds germinate quickly, they should be pricked out while they are in the greenhouse and transplanted into a larger container before going outdoors. This work is particularly easy with a special pricking stick. The young plant is carefully lifted out of the cultivation vessel together with its roots and placed in the next larger vessel. Planting is even easier if fully grown marigolds are bought in containers, as offered by numerous garden centers. Whether from your own cultivation or in a container;
Care of the marigolds
As easy as sowing or planting, caring for marigolds is uncomplicated:
- water regularly;
- the soil can dry out, but not dry out;
- Fertilizer is not absolutely necessary;
- once a month liquid fertilizer is sufficient;
- weeding once a week;
- Immediately remove any that has faded.
If you take marigolds as cut flowers, you also encourage the plant to grow lush.
Diseases and pests
Although the marigold is a robust and resilient plant that is even used in biological pest control, it is not itself completely immune to diseases and pests. The following issues can be troublesome:
The garden marigold in particular can be attacked by powdery mildew. This can be seen when a white, tomentose coating appears on the leaves. Experienced hobby gardeners cut these leaves generously, because the indestructible marigold will grow again quickly. If you don’t like to cut, spray the flowers with a 1:10 diluted milk-water mixture. The microorganisms in milk fight powdery mildew and the sodium phosphate it contains strengthens the plant.
They attach themselves to the tips of the shoots and cause suction damage. If nothing is done to combat these pests, the marigold’s wonderful blooms will quickly be gone. The soft soap solution has proven itself as a biological control agent. It is made from 1 liter of water, 1 tablespoon of soft soap and 1 tablespoon of alcohol. The flowers are sprayed with this mixture several times at intervals of 10 days. However, since the surfactants in this solution can cause stains on the leaves, an alternative is the promotion of aphids’ predators. These include ladybugs, ear peas and parasitic wasps. If you make your garden inviting for these useful little animals, you will not only get rid of the aphids quickly, but also numerous other pests.
Different varieties of marigolds are cultivated in Europe:
- Garden marigold (Calendula officinalis) – arguably the most popular variety;
- Field marigold (Calendula arvensis) – grows on poor soil;
- Dwarf marigold (Fiesta Gitana) – well suited for flower boxes;
- Marigold Neon – with red tips, the ideal cut flower;
- Marigold Porcupine – with ruffled petals;
- Marigold Calendula Oranja – bright orange, double flowers;
- Marigold Sperli – the wild form.
- Marigold Chrysantha – double, lemon-yellow flowers
- Cape marigold – a relentlessly flowering variety;
- Marigold girl’s eye Cosmidium – yellow flowers with brown eye;
- Marigold Prince of Orange – compact growth habit with deep orange flowers;
- Marigold Touch of Red Buff – a rarity with creamy-red, double flowers;
This is just a small selection of the most popular marigold varieties. New varieties are added every year.
A flower with many functions
The marigolds are not only beautiful to look at and easy to care for; They also fulfill a whole range of other useful functions in the hobby garden:
- they drive away snails and other pests;
- their roots improve the quality of the soil;
- they act as a weather prophet;
- an ideal source of nectar for bees, bumblebees and butterflies;
- processed into liquid manure, it fertilizes and nourishes the soil;
If a vegetable patch is completely surrounded by marigolds and some are spread out in the patch, the voracious snails or roundworms will avoid it. Marigolds have been used by farmers for weather forecasting for centuries. If the flowers are already open in the early morning between 6 and 7 a.m., a sunny day can be expected. However, if rainy weather threatens, the marigold flowers do not even open on that day. Incidentally, thanks to their long petals, marigolds have been used for centuries for the classic question game “She loves me – she doesn’t love me”.
Both sides benefit from being a good neighbor
Experienced hobby gardeners appreciate the advantages of mixed culture in their garden. In a plant community made up of neighbors who get along well, a whole range of positive effects come together. First of all, the nutrients in the soil are better used than in a pure monoculture. In addition, the marigold has a repellent effect on various pests and in this way protects its neighboring crops.
The mixed cultivation of marigolds promotes growth with:
- Lamb’s lettuce
- Garden cress
The resilience strengthens it in:
- and all fruit trees.
In contrast, the marigold is not at all compatible with thyme. If these plants come together in the bed, both usually die.
Marigolds dry for decoration in the house
After one to two weeks, the flowers are dry, which can be recognized by a faint rustling of the flowers. If you want to dry individual marigolds, simply place them on a grid and let them dry in a dark room so that the flower color does not fade. Dried flowers that are particularly durable are made when they are placed in a vase filled with a mixture of one part glycerine and two parts water. After two to four weeks, the water will have evaporated and the glycerine has been distributed in the marigolds. The advantage of this method of drying is that the dried flowers are slightly shimmery and pliable. Simply place them on a grid and let them dry in a dark room so that the flower color does not fade. Dried flowers that are particularly durable are made when they are placed in a vase filled with a mixture of one part glycerine and two parts water. After two to four weeks, the water will have evaporated and the glycerine has been distributed in the marigolds. The advantage of this method of drying is that the dried flowers are slightly shimmery and pliable. Simply place them on a grid and let them dry in a dark room so that the flower color does not fade. Dried flowers that are particularly durable are made when they are placed in a vase filled with a mixture of one part glycerine and two parts water. After two to four weeks, the water will have evaporated and the glycerine has been distributed in the marigolds. The advantage of this method of drying is that the dried flowers are slightly shimmery and pliable.
Marigolds have taken the hearts of many hobby gardeners by storm. They are so robust that they can even withstand sub-zero temperatures in spring. Sown in beds, in flower pots or flower boxes, they grow bushy and colorful all summer long. In addition, marigolds are not only extremely easy to care for, they also keep various pests away from crops, loosen the soil with their long roots and promote their growth in mixed cultures. As cut flowers, they beautify the house in the vase and maintain the splendor of summer colors as a dry bouquet throughout the winter.