Marigolds (Calendula officinalis) are a popular garden flower that grows quickly and has flowers in tones of orange, red and bright yellow. Marigolds will bloom throughout the summer and into late fall. The plant is known as a medicinal herb, with various uses, from infusion in creams to use as a natural pest repellent in gardens.
Identification and History
There are 20 species of the marigold, which is in the daisy family, Asteraceae. Calendula, the marigold's scientific name, comes from the Latin "kalendae," which means "first day of the month." That is likely because pot marigolds are often in bloom at the beginning of most months. Marigold leaves are are about 5-18 cm long and slightly hairy. Flower heads are 3-7 cm across. The plant is edible.
The marigold has a well documented history of medicinal use. Marigold oil found in the stem and petals have been used in the treatment of acne, eczema, headaches, toothache and other ailments.
In addition it has been used to treat abdominal cramps and constipation. (Do not use marigold for medicinal purposes without consulting your doctor first, though.)
Marigold's strong odor works to repel most insects, making the ancient flowering herbal a natural insect repellent. Marigolds repel mosquitoes, as well as aphids and other insects that can attack vegetable plants. One thing to keep in mind. though, is that not all insects stay away. In dry, hot weather, spider mites can kill marigolds. Grasshoppers also are oblivious to the pungent odor that other insects avoid.
Garden pest control
Many vegetable farmers consider the marigold a "companion" plant and will often plant it among vegetables because of its natural insect repellent qualities. The marigold can be planted to edge a vegetable garden, or planted among vegetables. If you have a container garden in your patio or yard consider adding a small marigold plant along with the vegetables or other flowers. Marigold oil can be found in many commercially made organic pest repellents.
Indoor Pest Control
You can even use marigolds to keep your house bug-free. Using the marigold alone or in indoor plant arrangements also repels pests like mosquitoes and flies. Maximize marigold's natural pest-repellent qualities by planting it near doors and windows. Keep a potted marigold plant on your kitchen window sill or on the nightstand in a bedroom. An ivy and marigold arrangement, mixed in with another flower, makes a pretty arrangement for your dining table all season long--and keeps bugs away.
Marigolds are versatile flowers for a garden. The plant can be easily grown from seed, which can be planted directly into your garden bed or planted indoors for transplanting later. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and water thoroughly. Marigolds germinate quickly and will grow blooms within two months. To extend the plant's blooms remove the dead flower heads from the plants regularly.