Let’s Talk Marigolds!
Updated: May 21
I simply don’t think you can have enough marigolds in the garden. Let’s talk about why you should be adding them, too!
I use to be one who never saw outside the box when it came to gardening. I planted as I learned from my parents (back then organic gardening wasn’t really a thing). I planted row by row, year after year, losing so many crops to pests because I refused to use any pesticides. Something had to give, and it wasn't going to be me giving up on gardening organically!
“Knowing that the food we grow here on the homestead for our family and friends is the most nutritious and pesticide free is what matters most to me”
I began researching organic gardening and came across loads of wonderful information but one that seemed to turn up in every article was marigolds. I’m huge on researching and then I like to put what information I gather to the test. It‘s how I grow as a gardener and tweak to find what works for me and how I garden, too!
“Gardening is not one size fits all! Its all about learning from each other, gather tips/advice and finding your gardening style.”
My History with Marigolds
My mom had a huge greenhouse and planted hundreds of beautiful flowers and plants every year. One of the flowers I liked the least was marigolds, lol. I thought they were an ugly flower (orange wasn’t my color) that stunk and I didn’t understand why adults bothered to buy or plant them. It wasn’t even a perennial (laughing at my childhood self)! I kept that mindset until last year I realized and appreciated what this ”ugly & stinky” flower had to offer.
Marigolds (Tagetes) pack a punch when it comes to gardening, chicken keeping, sustainable, and eco friendly living. French Marigolds ( Tagetes Erecta) are a must have variety in the garden. I like adding 3-4 varieties to with the French being the most planted. Marigolds have a long bloom giving hues of orange, yellow, bright to deep red, and mixed colors continuously throughout the whole growing season.
Be careful not to confuse marigolds with Calendula, sometimes called pot marigold (pictured below). Both flowers are great for the garden and chickens but if you mistakenly plant Calendula instead, you won’t be getting the benefits I’m going to go over below.
Not all bugs are bad for the garden! In fact, you want to attract lady bugs, hover flies, parasitic mini wasps, and many other good bugs to your beloved garden. They eat Aphids (which I loath)! Aphids will literally suck the life out of your plants and the little buggers multiply quickly. Marigolds attract these beneficial bugs and pollinators (bees & butterflies), making for a well rounded ecosystem in your garden.
Tip: Butterflies like single flowering varieties better because its easier for them to drink the nectar. Hence, planting a few varities is key.
As a kid, I picked up on the next benefit of marigolds... they stink! Well, I don’t think they stink now, but from my opinion as a child you prob thought I was going to tell you they smell like “Flower” from the movie Bambi. Hehe! Marigold odor helps repel mexican bean beetles, whiteflies, tomato hornworms, cabbage moths, and a few other pests.
Marigolds are known to also be “trap crops” just like nasturtiums. Pests like slugs are attracted to the marigolds instead of other plants making it easy for you to spot and get rid of them.
Lastly, Some say marigolds can kill off Nematodes (a microscopic worm-like organisms that can live in the soil). Marigolds releases alpha-terthienyl a natural occurring insecticide. It’s said to release where the plant is rooted. You can also chop them up or till them into the garden at the end of the season to add this benefit and more organic matter to your soil. I can’t 100 percent tell you this works, but I have seen the other benefits work with my own eyes so I’m pretty hopeful it probably does help with Nematodes.
How to Plant
I have become an abstract gardener.. meaning I purposefully plop plants everywhere in all kinds of non uniform ways making my garden a living piece of art. I get totally crazy with it and it works for me. Haha!
You absolutely don’t have to be like me, there are other ways. You are probably feeling relieved right now, aren’t you?
Create a barrier around your garden with marigolds by planting them around the edge of your garden.
Neatly plant rows in between your nicely planted crops.
”My Aunt who loves unification giggles at my gardening and no matter how hard she tried to mix things up this year, she is like, “I can’t do it!” She is an interplanting kind of gal.”
Heathy & happy chickens:
Dried marigold petals are great to mix with dried herbs like mint (sprinkle in the coop to ward of pests). Plant marigolds around the coop/run for pest control deterring flies, lice, and mosquitos. The petals give our feathered friends a little snack to peck at and chickens will lay nutritious eggs with deep orange healthy yolks. Marigolds also have antioxidant properties and are anti-inflammatory. Steep dried petals in warm water to make a tea for your flock (ice down for a summery chicken tea).
Tip: Some chicken owners have had trouble with fresh marigold petals being harsh on their chickens mouths (I personally have not, but it’s always worth keeping and eye on your chickens). If that happens you can plant them close, but out of pecking zones and feed them dried, crushed petals.
Yep, marigold flowers are edible! They add a little fun kick to salads and can be used in many recipes. Try this one below from HGTV!
Add dried crushed petals to your favorite soap recipe for an exfoliant or sprinkle on top of soap for a beautiful esthetic.
Grind dried petals to make a powder to color food or to dye Easter eggs or natural fibers.
Having a party? Sprinkle dried petals on the tables as a natural, earth-friendly confetti.
Who doesn’t love beautiful flowers on the kitchen table? Get creative and add a handmade bouquet to your kitchen table for a pop of beautiful color.
I hope I have convinced you to add a few marigolds to your life.