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Wise Choices for the Novice Gardener: Marigolds

Aug 17, 2007
Marigolds deserve the medal for being the flowers with the lowest maintenance required. In fact, some experts claim that marigolds are nearly care free. That's not quite true, but if your garden color scheme runs to yellows and oranges, you can't go wrong with the trusty marigold.

Although marigolds are one of the few popular garden plants where it's possible to grow from seed indoors and plant outside later, novice gardeners would do better to buy the plants already started in the plastic packs at your garden center. Marigolds will do well in bedding, pots, edgings, window boxes and some can even be used as cut flowers and taken inside as part of a beautiful arrangement.

As you browse the marigold section of your garden center, you will select your marigolds based on color - from orange, yellow, red, cream and maroon - but make sure you check the plastic tags for their projected height as well. Varieties of marigolds can grow from six inches to three feet high, so you'll want to take those heights into account if you are going to group the plants together.

In your garden center, you will typically buy a plastic pack of marigolds that contains three or four plants. When you get home, all you have to do is gently remove the plant from the pack and put it in a hole the size of the dirt that surrounds the roots. Novice gardeners often believe plants are more delicate than they are. Sometimes these plants will become attached via their roots. Don't worry - you can just separate them by gently pulling them apart.

Marigolds will thrive in the sun in moist, well-drained soil. Like many plants, they will appreciate being watered directly in the soil (rather than having the water rain down on them). Marigolds may appreciate some feeding during the season, but they really don't require it.

One word of warning: marigolds have a distinctive scent. Some people love it, others don't. Before you invest in marigolds for your garden, make sure you stick your nose right in the plants and take a good whiff. It's probably this scent that has made some people believe that marigolds will keep insect pests out of your garden. Some gardeners swear it's true. The scientific evidence is inconclusive.

The only maintenance marigolds require is what's called "deadheading." This means you pinch off the dead blooms in order to make room for new ones. Some garden experts claim that even that isn't necessary, but it's little work that's necessary in exchange for the beauty and color marigolds add to your garden all season long.
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