With so many different types of marigold flowers to choose from, it can be hard to decide which ones to dedicate your precious garden space to. Here are three well-loved favorites to help scratch that itchy green thumb.
For Edible Marigolds, Go Central and South American
Not many people realize that some types of marigold flowers are edible. Three types worth a taste are Tagetes erecta, Tagetes lucida and Tagetes minuta. Called by a host of similar names, these three marigold flower cultivars are also sometimes called Mexican and Aztec marigolds (sp. erecta); and Mexican mint marigold, Mexican tarragon, Spanish tarragon and Texas tarragon (sp. lucida).
Used medicinally and herbally, these marigold flowers and leaves have hints of citrus, basil, tarragon and mint and are used in traditional Central and South American cuisine. And their fast-growing nature and bright colors (think oranges, reds, yellows, mixed firecrackers and even creams) make these marigolds lovely border flowers.
Another edible flower that’s native to North America, South America and Southern Europe (go figure), French marigolds (Tagetes patula) are low-growing beauties with a strong citrusy scent. Hardy and quite striking, these annuals are also loved by butterflies and bees (because their flat-flowered form makes nectar easy to reach). Plus, they’re cold resistant and bloom well into fall, adding deep crimson and gold colors to fall’s already ruddy landscape.
Another great reason to grow French marigolds is that they’re toxic to root-knot nematodes. In fact, if you plant French marigolds and then plow the plants into the soil at the end of the season, they’ll effectively “disinfect” your soil against root-knot nematodes.
For Huge Blooms, Grow African Marigolds
Easy to grow and care for, African marigolds are mammoth (think 4′ blooms) and make fantastic cut bouquets. Bright, bold and prolific growers, African marigold flowers bloom in a golden rush of warm yellow and orange hues that last long into autumn’s cool temperatures. Be sure to plant these somewhere where they’ll have plenty of room to grow—not only are their blooms huge, they’re tall too (reaching up to 3′).