Ever wonder why all of your neighbors plant marigolds? What do they know that you don't? You might be surprised. If you don't plant marigolds, you're definitely missing out. Here are just a few reasons to sow this industrious annual in your garden.
The number 1 reason most people plant marigolds (Tagetes) is probably because they're incredibly easy to grow and care for (not to mention cheap). Grown from seed or store-bought seedlings, marigolds are as forgiving (and affordable) as they are pretty. For a drought-resistant, pest-resistant and fairly cold-resistant annual, plant marigolds throughout your flower or vegetable garden (then sit back and watch them grow with or without you).
Speaking of vegetable gardens, ever wonder why so many people plant marigolds in their vegetable gardens? It's because marigold flowers have a pungent aroma that keeps pests and (rumor has it) bunnies and deer at bay. Often used as the first line of defense around a garden perimeter, their low-maintenance blooms add a cheery splash of color and life to new, spring gardens while protecting tender seedlings from little nibblers. (Be careful with composting though—marigold roots are known to be toxic to nematodes. Compost your marigold roots and you run the risk of harming your composting worm population.)
Did you know that some species of marigolds are edible? Plant marigold cultivars like Signet, Lemon Gem or Mexican marigold (also called Mexican tarragon and Texas tarragon), and you won't just have a no-pest garden, you'll have gorgeous, edible flowers that you can toss in salads, use to make vinaigrette, or pinch off and snack on. What better way to enjoy a firecracker garden aflame in reds, oranges and yellows than by snacking on the blooms as you stroll?
Want to help bee populations survive? Plant marigolds and you're practically guaranteed to see bees in your garden well into October. Because they're hardy and fairly frost-resistant, marigold flowers bloom well into fall—adding color to dreary fall landscapes and giving nectar-hungry bumbles someplace to sip and sit.
That's right: Plant marigolds because they're beautiful. Not just pretty, not just cute, but beautiful. I think a lot of people overlook how strikingly unique and lovely these prolific little dynamos are (probably because they're also so affordable and abundant), and that's a shame. With so many different bright, bold cultivars to choose from (many of which are hardy and easy to grow), it's practically impossible to have a drab marigold garden. Paint your garden in deep crimsons, golds and creams for a spectacular display of marigold bravura.
Do you plant marigolds? Do you have a favorite cultivar?
(Images graciously provided by cygnus921, srqpix and mrdisaster. Thanks!)