I look for the ruffly, rusty, orange like an old friend in the late Summer. Many years ago I bought French Brocade marigolds and they have readily self-seeded, magically turning our side-yard into Autumnal beauty with no effort. Marigolds can be controversial, with images of pungent smelling, Day-Glo orange puff balls coming to mind. Today, I am making a case for these little garden workhorses, they are more than meets the eye.
Marigolds are pest-resistant. They may smell a little funky, but it really does the trick. Deer and especially gophers dislike marigolds. When I plan well, I plant them around my more sensitive-to-rodents plants like tulips and dahlias. Gophers will run into the marigolds first and think twice about coming for whatever is on the other side of the marigold border.
It is their foliage which is stinky. I remove most of the foliage when making bouquets so that the blooms stay hydrated rather than the foliage. Typically, removing most of the foliage also removes 90% of the smell. I've also found that the smell is stronger with some varieties than others. The Bobtailed White marigold I mention below has virtually no scent.
Marigolds come in so. many. colors. This year I grew my staple French Brocade (as seen above), which always feel like a cozy-sweater Fall flower friend. The one that stole the show this year was the Bobtailed White marigold (Pictured Right). It is a lovely butter yellow and blooms much earlier than other varieties, making it a wonderful Summer flower.
They are edible! Just ask my five year-old, he'll pop a whole marigold into his mouth before you can say "edible flower." He's very enthusiastic about all edible flowers, but particularly marigolds.
They do have a lovely peppery flavor that I love to mix with Butter lettuce. Be sure just to pull out the petals and sprinkle around so the flavor isn't too intense. Below is our Farm grown lettuce with goat cheese, blueberries, and marigolds. I'm excited for lunch! The lettuce is also from Uprising Seeds, our favorite seed company with Open Pollinated varieties. I'll link to my favorite seeds from them at the bottom.
They dry beautifully. I grew two traditionally puffy varieties called Bindi Gold, and Xochi Orange. I've been harvesting them for future projects and drying them upside-down and out of the light. They hold their vibrant colors and petals so well.
Lastly, they are really easy to collect seed from so you can multiply your marigold mania! Collecting seed from Open Pollinated varieties is key so you know it will be the same flowers next year. Wait until the bloom has faded and the petals have dropped. Just below the petals are the little black and white seed-sticks in their crispy sepal cup. You can see them pictured below in my hand with the casing next to them. You can fall sow them and they will come up next Spring/Summer.
You can also wait and Summer-sow them so they're ready in the Fall. This year I sowed my marigolds in late June so they'd be at their height late Sept/early October.
I hope you give Marigolds a try next season, they truly are magic. 🪄✨
Uprising Seeds Mentioned: