It is difficult to find any other flowers in our garden that can compete with marigolds in unpretentiousness and ease of growing. They can be used for planting in mixborders, flower beds, large floor vases, patios and even hanging baskets. These beautiful flowers received their Russian name, most likely, due to the deep color of the flowers and the soft velvety tint of their red-brown petals. Marigolds and their aromatic oil are used in cooking, perfumery and cosmetic industry, as a flavoring agent for tobacco products, and very widely in medicine. A popular spice - Imeretian saffron, without which many dishes of Georgian cuisine are indispensable - is nothing more than dried baskets of these very flowers. Thanks to the substance contained in them - quacetagetin - they are able to give products a golden hue. And in India, a popular perfume is made from a mixture of marigold and sandalwood oils. Well, and, which is very important, it is an excellent tool for combating many pests and diseases of the soil and plants.
Marigolds come from South America and, in particular, from Mexico. Currently, they grow wild in Africa, Europe, Asia, Central and South America. In their homeland, the ancient Aztecs and Mayans used these plants as a spicy additive in food and medicine, as well as in religious rituals, attributing magical properties to them. There is even a beautiful legend that the marigolds pointed out to the Indians the location of gold deposits in the ground. Hence the scientific name of the marigolds - tagetes in honor of the grandson of Jupiter - Tadis, who taught the Etruscans to predict fate and find treasures hidden in the earth. In England, this plant is more often called marigold, which also means associated with gold.
Currently, about 35 species of marigolds are known. But in culture, only 3 species are especially popular - erect marigolds, rejected marigolds and thin-leaved marigolds, and interspecific hybrids between the first two species are also known. Their main difference is in the shape and size of the inflorescence, leaves and height of the bush.
The highest are considered erect marigolds (Tagetes erecta). Sometimes they are also called American or African. Some varieties of upright marigolds in their homeland reach a height of up to 120 cm, but this is not at all necessary - nowadays there are already many undersized varieties and hybrids, such as, for example, Discovery Yellow; Gold F1, Inca II, Sumo, Marvel Yellow, Aztec Lime Green, etc. Erect marigolds usually have the largest inflorescences, usually rounded or elongated-rounded. Among the erect marigolds, I would also like to note such interesting, in my opinion, varieties as: Moonlight, Enterprise, Kalando Orange, Gilbert Stein, Diamond Yellow Moon and Diamond Gold, as well as varieties with a white and rather rare color - Vanilla and Beatles White Moon ...
Marigolds rejected (Tagetes patula) usually more compact, and their flowers are not as large as those of erect ones, but they have a much more varied range of red and red-brown colors. Pay attention, for example, to Red Brocada, Bolero, Carmen or Yellow & Red varieties. There is also a very interesting Harlequin variety, which is interesting for its unusual contrasting striped color. The height of the rejected marigolds usually ranges from 20-45 cm and they are also often called French marigolds. Other interesting varieties belong to the same group - Sunburst Splash, Apricot Primo, Dainty Mariette, Zenith, Little Hero, Orange Ball, Spray Petit, etc.
I would like to say a few more words about thin-leaved marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia), as the least common species in our latitudes. It is a plant with highly branching, straight shoots, but they are much thinner and more graceful than the other two species mentioned above.Thin-leaved marigolds, as a rule, are not higher than 40-50 cm. Inflorescences are small, only up to 2 cm in diameter, usually form compact spherical bushes with very abundant flowering from July to the very frost. The seeds are very small, much smaller than the usual species. Very decorative for landscape and mass plantings. On the market, as a rule, they are represented by a mixture of Mimimix, which includes up to 4-5 different colors and halftones.
For lovers of more detailed descriptions, I will add that according to the shape of the flower, marigolds are also divided into carnation (consist mainly of reed flowers) and chrysanthemum (consist mainly of large tubular flowers). All of them, in turn, can be terry, semi-double and simple.
Depending on the height and width of the bush, marigolds are planted in the center or in the background of a flower garden, and from low-growing varieties, elegant monocultural flower beds or no less picturesque borders are obtained. All parts of this plant have a characteristic odor, which is usually felt even at a considerable distance from the plant. They bloom profusely almost all summer and until frost, but, unfortunately, the first, even mild frosts, usually ruin them. Can be used in any type of flower bed. They grow well in a limited amount of soil, i.e. in floor vases and pots. They stand in the cut for a long time. Most species and varieties are very drought-resistant and easily tolerate transplanting, even in a flowering state. This property is very useful, especially for those flower growers who still prefer to buy annual seedlings, as well as in those cases when, for example, at the end of June you need to quickly find a worthy replacement for newly dug tulips, muscari or hyacinths.
Marigold seeds can be sown directly into the soil in late or mid-May, or grown in seedlings if you want an earlier flowering. Seedlings bloom about two to two and a half months after sowing.
It is better to use purchased seeds for planting and purchase them from reliable and trusted suppliers. If you want to use your own seeds, then remember that most of the most popular and widespread marigold varieties we have today are hybrids. When sowing seeds obtained from them, not all plant traits you like will be inherited. Simply put, in these cases, there is usually a splitting of some of the beneficial properties into maternal and paternal. Well, as Mendel, the founder of genetics, said, in some cases, every fourth seedling can show the properties of his grandparents. In other words, you can get something completely different from what grew last year in your flower bed and you really liked it. This applies to both the height of the plants and the shape and color of their flowers. It is believed that marigold seeds retain relatively good germination for about 2 years from the moment they were harvested.
Marigolds planted with seedlings begin to bloom in our garden around June, and the peak of flowering occurs in 2-3 ten days of July. It is advisable to sow seeds first for seedlings in separate containers according to varieties, in grooves no more than 1 cm deep and at a distance of 3-4 cm from each other. Better yet, do it directly into special cassettes with small cells. And the required distance is easier to maintain, and then easier to transplant. The seeds are lightly sprinkled with finely dispersed garden soil, half mixed with sand. Marigold seedlings are planted in open ground quite late, after the threat of frost return has disappeared. Marigolds come from countries with hot climates and absolutely cannot stand even weak freezing temperatures.
Marigolds are especially undemanding to the composition of the soil, they grow on almost any soil. During the growing season, you should not get carried away with nitrogen fertilizers. Excess nitrogen in the soil can lead to the formation of large amounts of green mass at the expense of flowering.Agricultural technology during the growth and development of seedlings is standard - loosening the soil, removing weeds and thinning or replanting densely planted plants. During flowering, faded inflorescences are regularly removed to give the plants a neat appearance and extend their flowering period. But it should be borne in mind that sometimes from touching the leaves, some people may experience skin irritation.
Marigolds are usually planted in full sun, but they also grow in light or gliding partial shade. They do not tolerate a thick shade, they stretch strongly and bloom poorly. They have almost no pests, but during the prolonged heat in summer, marigolds can be attacked by a spider mite, which they get rid of with the help of insecticides.
During prolonged rains, marigolds can rot flowers and roots. Erect marigolds are especially sensitive to waterlogging.
As already mentioned, marigolds are widely used to control pests of vegetable and flower crops, for example, aphids, nematodes, etc. To do this, flower or vegetable beds are planted with marigolds, or they are sprayed with a decoction of flowers and leaves of these fragrant plants. A decoction of marigolds is also used for the prevention of "black leg" in seedlings of various flower crops, and in the infusion the bulbs of gladioli are disinfected before planting. To do this, the dried flowers and leaves of marigolds are poured with hot water (100 g per 1 liter of water) and insisted for about two days, and then the bulbs are soaked in this infusion before planting overnight.