Marigolds truly live up to their name – a sea of molten gold flowers that have many more uses besides being beautiful in your garden. They are made for summer.
To meet the demands of their native lands–chiefly Mexico and Central America–members of the marigold family had to flourish in hot sun as well as tolerate poor soils and infrequent rain.These qualities make them one of the most foolproof summer annuals, whether you plant them in the ground or in a container.
Their leaves have another bonus: Like other plants whose foliage contains volatile oils, such as lavender and rosemary, marigolds seem to repel many harmful insects while attracting beneficial ones. Recent research indicates that marigolds contain compounds toxic to root knot and other plant-parasitic nematodes (microscopic round worms that damage plant roots).
If nematodes are bugging your crops, you won’t see them, but you’re sure to see the damage they cause: stunted, yellow, and/ or wilted plants, often with distinctly knotted and possibly rotting roots.
There’s no safe chemical cure for these microscopic, soil-dwelling worms except French marigolds.Plant them in rows or blocks between your crops (you have to plant a lot of them to get the benefit), and you’ll enjoy their flowers all season long. Marigolds suppress nematodes only when they are planted thickly and allowed to grow for many weeks.
Then, in fall, till the plants into the soil instead of pulling them out. Doing so will reduce the number of safe places where nematodes can survive during the winter.
When you’re done, fill your 20 gallon hose-end sprayer with a can of beer and drench the soil. By spring, the beds will be in great shape for planting, and garden pests should be a thing of the past.
Marigolds also attract beneficial insects such as lacewings, lady beetles, and parasitic wasps. And while this plant drives away many bad bugs, it also attracts spider mites, slugs and snails.
Like other members of the daisy family, marigolds also do their share in feeding nectar to beneficial insects, such as syrphid flies, who prey on aphids and other insects that attack garden plants.
There are several other advantages to having marigolds. In the garden, they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Watching the butterflies and hummingbirds flit from flower to flower gives you a sense of pride and peace.
Plus, moles think the roots of marigolds are distasteful. So planted around the perimeter of any garden they will deter moles from ruining flowers and vegetables.
Marigolds really do help not only with insect pests but rabbits. They hate marigolds. Last year I had several rabbits in early spring and they continued to wreak havoc on my early crops until it was finally warm enough that I could plant marigolds. Once they were planted the rabbits were gone.
Little Secret Hints to make your marigolds the best in the neighborhood.
1.) Just as the marigold begins to bloom, lop off the first flowers before they open. This stimulates your flowers to bloom profusely.
2.) Another suggestion to extend your marigolds’ growth is to add a small amount of potash fertilizer. As a cautionary tip, do not over-fertilize. The temptation is there because the leafage becomes lush. You want the flowers, not the leaves!
3.) You may have to stake your larger-flowered marigolds.
Remember that what works in my garden may not work in yours. Every garden is different with its own microclimate, soil type, and pest control issues.
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Yours truly, Polly – Organic Gardener