CALENDULA – POT marigold

Pot marigolds are very easy to grow and will thrive almost anywhere in the garden. They make a profusion of seed and the yellow or orange daisy-like flowers open at dawn and close at dusk. They last well when cut.

Suitable site and soil. They will grow almost anywhere, including the poorest of soils.

Cultivation and care. Space out to about 20cm – 8in to allow the plants to grow freely. Keep the soil weed-free and deadhead the flowers to encourage a long flowering season and to prevent self-seeding – otherwise they will produce literally hundreds of self-sown plants.

Propagation Usually grown as hardy annuals, they can be sown outdoors in their flowering positions from spring. Alternatively, sow in autumn and place raised sheets of glass over them in winter for late spring flowering.

Recommended varieties. C. officinalis has several strains, mostly sold as ‘mixtures’, to give a range of colours from yellow to bright orange. Most flowers are doubles, such as ‘Pacific Beauty’ or ‘Art Shades’. ‘Geisha Girl’ is single, orange in colour, with in-curving petals. The dwarf ‘Fiesta Gitana’ form is neat and compact, useful for filling bare patches at the front of the herbaceous border.

Pests and diseases. Cutworms and a variety of caterpillars can demolish leaves and stems. Powdery mildew is common, especially in late summer, and rust and smut fungi can cause spotting and discolouration of leaves in damp summers.

CHILDREN’S CORNER

Pot marigolds are really easy to grow. As they come up so quickly, they make ideal flowers for children to grow in their own little patch of garden, along with cornflowers and sunflowers.

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