No annual is more cheerful or easier to grow than marigolds. These flowers are the spendthrifts among annuals, showing a wealth of gold, copper, and brass into our summer and autumn gardens. The flower’s popularity probably derives in part from its ability to bloom brightly all summer long.
Marigolds have daisy-like or double, carnation-like flowerheads and are produced singly or in clusters. Although there are some 50 species, some marigolds we know come from just three:
- Tagetes erecta are the tallest, at three to five feet. They are sometimes known as African, or American, marigolds.
- Bushy T. patula, or French marigolds, are somewhat smaller and more compact. Elegant and eye-catching, they have relatively demure flowers and usually grow from 6 inches to 2 feet tall.
- The dainty T. tenuifolia are the signet, or rock-garden, marigolds that like hot, dry sites and make a wonderful edging. Their flowers are edible.
Marigolds have been sterotyped but they offer tremendous variety; some have fantastic aroma; all marigolds are good in containers and provide long-lasting cut flowers.