TAGETES – marigold

This group of showy, half-hardy annuals includes some of the commonest and most popular border and bedding annuals. The flowers are produced from summer until autumn and also last well as cut flowers.

Suitable site and soil. A rich, well-drained soil in a sunny position is best. Border edges are a good site for a row of marigolds.

Cultivation and care. Plant out in late spring. Remove old flower heads to promote a longer flowering season.

Propagation. Grow from seed sown in early or mid spring.

Recommended varieties. Varieties of T. erecta, or the African marigold, are available in varying heights from 75cm – 21 – 2ft down to about Socra – lV&ft. Good varieties are the tall T. e. ‘Climax’, growing to 9.0cm – 3ft and spreading 46cm – lV&ft with large double yellow and orange flowers; and small African marigolds from the ‘Inca’ series which grow to 30cm – 12in with gold, orange and yellow flowers. Varieties of T. patula, or the French marigold, are smaller and more compact. A good one is T.p. ‘Disco Orange’, with single flowers in a pretty, cheerful orange. It grows to 15cm – 6in high and wide. Varieties of T. tenuifolia pumila (formerly T. signata pumila) make excellent edging plants growing to about 23cm – 9in high and forming low mounds. They are available with lemon, yellow and orange-red flowers.

Pests and diseases. Watch out for attack by slugs and snails; they may also suffer from fungal grey mould and root rot.

BUTTERFLY BALL

Varieties of T. patula (French marigold) attract butterflies. Plant them at the base of Buddleia davidii (butterfly bush) for a lovely swarm of butterflies and for a purple and orange flower contrast.

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