Name: Tagetes erecta and Tagetes patula – aka, marigolds. Plant snobs can stop reading right now because yes, I’m loving these common annuals that are in the sunflower family.
Type of Plant: Most commonly planted as annuals, these plants come in a variety of sizes and many colors…as long as you’re looking for some shade of cream, yellow, orange or rusty-red.
Why I love this: There are some who turn up their noses at marigolds, but every year I grow to appreciate them more. Why? Because they are easy to grow, bright and cheerful. They can be quickly grown from seed either started indoors or planted directly in the ground in sunny locations. You can get marigolds that only grow 6 to 8 inches high or varieties that grow 3 to 4 feet tall. You might choose single or double flowers, and you can have either tiny blossoms or huge, pom-pom flower.
I am increasingly fond of the color orange in the garden, especially when it’s mixed with yellow and blue, so it’s no wonder that I’ve used marigolds in several plantings at Poison Ivy Acres over the last few years.
In several countries garlands of marigold flowers are hung during celebrations, and I’m thinking that this is a tradition that we Americans might embrace, especially in August and September.
To me, the smell of marigold flowers and foliage is synonymous with summer. I love how they look when planted with other brightly colored annuals, and although they don’t actually keep insects away from the vegetables they nevertheless make pretty, pollinator-attracting companions for your food crops.
A Word to the Wise: Marigolds don’t like to have their foliage frequently splashed with water so these are not good plants for areas that get hit with frequent automatic irrigation systems. Similarly, they can get septoria leaf spot and other fungal problems in cool, damp summers. So should the weather be on the cool, rainy and cloudy side, you might want to spray with an organic fungicide such as Actinovate or sulfur.