Petite French Marigold Mix
Seed Count: Approx. 100 seeds
Days to Maturity: Annual
Description: Marigolds, a member of the daisy family, are actually native to Mexico and Guatemala, but these flowers ended up spreading to Europe with explorers and became a very popular ornamental plant. Due to marigold's beauty, they were often used to adorn statues of Mary, resulting in their common name "Mary's gold." The Petite French Marigold (Tagetes Patula) variety is compact and grows to about 6-12 inches tall. They come in a beautiful warm mix of shades, including orange, gold, yellow, red, and even bi colored. They make beautiful displays in pots, and are great for small space gardeners looking to add that pop of color! However, most home gardeners use marigolds as a companion plant between their vegetables, since it deters harmful pests, like whiteflies, and kills bad nematodes. I love marigolds because of their full, fluffy texture; plus, they make the perfect border plant to accompany my taller plants. Fun Fact, the genus name "Tagetes" comes from Tages, an ancient deity who sprung up from the ground, and its species name "patula" comes from the Latin word for "spreading wide," referring to their large blossoms.
How To Grow
Sowing: Marigolds can be started indoors, and transplanted after the last frost, or sown directly, in areas with a longer growing season. To start indoors, sow your seeds in a flat, or peat pellets, 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost. Marigold seeds germinate best in a high humidity environment with temperatures around 70 degrees F. To direct sow, wait until after the last frost, and sow your seeds just below the surface of the soil (about 1/4th of an inch), and about 6 inches apart. Keep the soil lightly moist until germination. Germination usually occurs within 5-10 days. In the Deep South, pick a spot that receives shade during the heat of the afternoon, to help protect plants from excessive heat. If not they will burn to a crisp. Thin plants to about 9-12 inches apart, once they reach about 1 inch tall.
Growing: Water seedlings occasionally, until they become well established. Mature plants tolerate some drought, though watering them during dry weather will increase their blooms. Mulch your plants to conserve water, and to discourage weeds. A light fertilizer may also be helpful. If using a granular fertilizer, keep it away from the crown and foliage to avoid burning your plants. While it's growing, pinch back the growing stems to encourage a bushier, fuller plant. Deadheading your plants will make them continuously bloom from late spring until your first frost. This plant attracts bees and butterflies, and will self-seed in good growing conditions.
Harvesting: For cut flowers, choose stems with flowers that have just opened. Strip any foliage that will fall below the water level, and place in water immediately. To save seeds, allow the flowers to naturally drop their petals and develop into their spiky seed heads. When ripe, the heads will be dark brown and can be easily broken apart to reveal the narrow seeds. Remove the ripe seed heads and spread them out to dry away from direct sunlight. When they have completely dried, break apart the heads to separate the seeds from the husk. Store your cleaned seeds in a cool, dry place.