Marigolds are a sure sign summer has arrived. They are easy to grow and give bright colors all summer along today on Southern Gardening.
To many gardeners marigolds are just those common yellow flowers. They’re common alright, because they’re easy and don’t require much care. There are several types available but the big two are the American and the French marigold. The American marigold is also called the African marigold, Tagetes erecta. The various series range in size from 15 inches to over 3 feet tall. American marigolds are recognizable for their pom-pom type double flowers. Popular series include the First Lady, Discovery, and Crackerjack. These series feature colors of yellow, orange, dark, orange, and white. With the big flowers and taller stems, sometimes American marigolds need staking.
French marigolds, Tagetes patula, are smaller and have more flower variety. There are single as well as double flowers; colors include yellow, orange, and reds along with stripes. Popular series include Janie and the Sophia. French marigolds are generally less than 15 inches tall. Marigolds are free flowering from early summer to frost. But you will have to deadhead and remove the faded flowers.
There are a couple of marigold garden myths. First, that they repel insects. In fact, spider mites are attracted to marigolds can make infestations worse. Second, there is antidotal evidence that marigolds do help around tomatoes. When I gardened in-ground I always planted marigolds around the tomatoes, it did seem to help.
Marigolds are great in-ground or in containers and add a cheerful and colorful brightness where ever they are planted. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.