It is easy to understand why marigolds are popular pot plants, adding bright orange and yellow splashes to patios, porches, and verandas.
Those types are properly called calendula, are a part of the daisy family, and quite different from tagetes patula (French marigold) . These, too, can provide color and beauty to hanging baskets and planters, but they also have many beneficial uses in the garden.
Here are 10 benefits of growing marigolds in the garden.
1. Edible Plant
Marigolds are a joyful addition to the kitchen. Their bright faces are not just colorful but are edible too.
You can use the petals and leaves raw or cooked in many dishes, especially in salads or stir-fries. Moreover, you can freeze and use them to decorate summer sweets and ices.
2. Adds Color and Beauty
The flowers will brighten up the dullest patch in any garden.
They thrive anywhere there is some sunshine and will respond by quickly producing various gorgeous warm colors. They also attract butterflies to add to the beauty of the flowers.
3. Kills Nematodes
There are good and bad nematodes that dwell in the soil. Useful nematodes destroy certain pests in the earth; however, the bad ones are themselves pests, damaging plants’ root system.
Otherwise known as eelworms, these tiny creatures also puncture leaves and stems with sharp teeth draining the sap from plants. Yellowing, wilting, or general unhealthy appearance show up in plants. Also, crops may show evidence of nematode infestation.
Marigold can help to control plant-parasitic nematodes even if they cannot entirely eliminate them. Studies suggest that the plant produces allelopathic compounds that deter these harmful pests .
The Tangerine variety appears to be the most effective. A few months after sowing, it produces a toxin that can kill nematodes, but some gardeners advise block-planting to be effective.
4. Attracts Bees and Pollinators
Bees are essential in the ecosystem by pollinating vital crops and plants that feed wildlife, thus sustaining biodiversity.
Bees are particularly attracted to marigolds, so planting is very beneficial to the garden as it helps the bees to thrive. Likewise, other pollinators like butterflies are attracted to the powerfully scented colorful plants.
If the flowers are not home-raised, it is better to purchase plants from organic nurseries to avoid harmful chemical insecticides affecting the pollinators.
5. Attracts Predatory Insects
Marigolds can also bring wonderfully helpful insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. These feed on a host of pests likely to damage vegetables or ornamental plants.
The return to organic methods has recently revived this natural way of pest control. For that reason, specialty breeders raise predatory insects and supply them to farms and gardens.
6. Great Trap Crop
Sometimes described as sacrificial, some plants can act as a lure for pests. Plant marigolds among other ornamentals and vegetables to attract pests such as slugs.
You can then pick off the critters or eliminate them by other methods.
7. Medicinal Calendula
This type of marigold is a medicinal herb and known for its multitude of health-giving and healing properties.
Easily grown in the garden, the flower heads can be used in infusions and compress. It works well for many ailments including gingivitis, skin issues, and swellings. Besides, calendula promotes wound healing .
You can also make the powder into creams for wounds, abrasions, burns, and sores. Besides, perfumes and natural fabric dyes are also produced from calendula.
8. Pest Repellent
Rabbits, deer, and other wildlife are well known for ruining vegetable patches.
Deer do damage to roses and ornamentals. These otherwise delightful creatures can munch through the garden in no time.
Although the jury is out on the plant’s effectiveness as a deterrent, many gardeners say they do help.
Insect pests that damage vegetables such as cabbage moths, Mexican bean beetles, and leafhoppers seem to be deterred by the flowers.
9. Protects Tomatoes
Calendula, in particular, is useful in protecting tomatoes. Gardeners have long planted tomatoes and marigolds together to deter a host of pests, including tomato worms.
10. Companion Plant
Companion planting can keep crops and other ornamentals from attack by pests.
Additionally, marigolds help many vegetable varieties to thrive, and these include potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, various squashes and gourds, and cucumbers.
How to Grow Marigolds
Marigolds are an attractive plant for many reasons. They are colorful, scented, have many uses, and easy to grow.
The plants thrive in most soils, and as long as they have their faces to the sun, they will give lasting pleasure over a long season. Besides, they require very little care — only occasional watering in dry weather.
The plant is best grown from seed after the frosty season. After that period, it should germinate rapidly and bloom within two months.
- Sew about 1 inch apart directly into the earth and water well but without over-watering, using a fine spray.
- Alternatively, the seeds can be planted indoors about 50 days before the last frost in a soilless potting medium with a thin topping of vermiculite.
- Cover in plastic wrap until germination and give plenty of light.
- Plant out in spring.
With so many benefits, it is no wonder marigold is such a popular plant. For the organic gardener, they can be a joy to view and a boon to the vegetable garden.