Making the most of your marigolds
Marigolds (Tagetes spp) are native to the Americas, but gardeners refer to the two most commonly grown types as French (Tagetes patula) and African (Tagetes erecta). French marigolds are low growing with compact green foliage and are perfect as border plants. African marigolds are better suited as a background plant in the garden as they grow up to a metre high, with large showy flowers. African marigolds are also slower to mature, so bear this in mind when planning your summer garden. Mass plant marigolds for impact, or place alongside flowers in hues of blue and purple which perfectly complement the yellow and orange blooms of marigolds. A lavender hedge, for example, looks stunning with a dense row of French marigolds at its foot
Caring for marigolds
To maximise flowering choose a position that gets full sun from morning right through to early afternoon. Grow from seed or plant seedlings in well-drained soil that has been enriched with compost. Protect young plants from slugs by placing crushed eggshells and coffee grounds around the base of each plant. Go easy on the fertiliser as too much can result in more foliage and fewer flowers. Once flowers appear it’s beneficial to deadhead regularly to encourage further blooms and keep them looking tidy.
Well-placed outdoor lighting can make a garden come to life in the evenings. Uplighting feature trees and highlighting footpaths will take your garden to the next level. Call your local electrician for advice and installation.
French marigolds are well known as a companion plant in the vegetable garden because the roots of the growing marigold produce a chemical that stops root knot nematode eggs from hatching. You’ll need more than just the odd plant dotted around though. To successfully treat a nematode infestation, marigolds should be grown from seed as a cover crop for a few months, then dug in to the soil as green manure before planting with vegetables. Slugs love to eat marigolds which makes them a great sacrificial plant to lure them away from your vegetables. Be sure to pick the slugs off the marigolds every night and dispose of them.
Marigolds make lovely cut flowers - remove the foliage if you don’t like its pungent smell.