A Renewed Love for Marigolds

I remember that I had a doll named Marigold, and that we had a Tamworth sow named Marigold, but I had forgotten about marigolds as cut flowers. For the last two years, I’ve participated in the ASCFG Cut Flower Seed Trials. It’s a big commitment, but I’m happy and proud to support such an important program. In both 2019 and 2020, we were eager to open the packets of seed mailed to us, and go through them to see what we got. We were very surprised and concerned that there were a lot of marigolds!

We planted them and waited to see what they were like. When they started blooming, we were thrilled with the large, full, and plump ruffles of orange and yellow petals. They worked really well in our market bouquets because they were long and straight with high branching stems. Customers were pleasantly surprised to see “an old favourite” in their bouquets. They have a great vase life and long bloom time on the plant.

Marigolds do have a strong scent. But I LOVE it! They make your hands black and it is hard to get the scent off. I use the “Gardener’s Soap” from Gretel’s Handcrafted Soap, a division of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus Ohio. I believe they can ship anywhere.The colours are very vibrant. A citrus orange, lemon yellow, and carrot orange. But there was also a pale, almost buttery yellow one this year that we are liking.

When we are training our helpers for harvesting, in general, we usually tell them “The row starts off with colour, and you pick until there isn’t colour.” That’s hard with marigolds because there are so many stems per plant. Usually you can’t tell that they have harvested the row because there is still so much colour.

My hope is that orange comes into fashion because I love orange flowers—it’s such a vibrant and happy colour. The “red letter” day will be when I have a request for an orange wedding. We love pairing the orange with pinks for a tropical vibe, or reds and yellows for a hot as fire look.

In 2019, we trialed ‘Deep Gold’, ‘Falcon Yellow’, ‘Jedi Orange’, ‘Oriental Deep Gold’, and ‘Oriental Gold’ from AmeriSeed; and ‘Coco Deep Orange’, ‘Coco Gold’, and ‘Coco Yellow’ from Sakata.

For 2020, there were ‘Bindi Gold’, ‘Chedi Yellow’, and ‘Mayan Orange’ from AmeriSeed; ‘EXP Xochi Orange’ from BloomStudio; ‘Bengal Orange’, ‘Hemant Deep Yellow’, ‘Janthra Yellow’, and ‘Royal Ball Gold’ from East-West Seed; and ‘Nosento Lime Green’ from Evanthia.We found that there were certain ethnic cultures (Middle Eastern) that wanted the marigolds for religious ceremonies. They are considered pure and a global religious symbol in Hindu, Buddhist, and Catholic celebrations. In India, they are traditionally offered to honour all of the gods and goddesses, but especially Laxmi and Ganesh. When purchasing them the customers didn’t seem to want the stems attached but we had to educate them that we needed to cut them “as if we were using them for a bouquet” so they would regrow with good stem length. They really wanted only the bloom.

They also said that when we were picking them, they didn’t want us to bring them to our noses to smell them. It altered their purity. They used them to break the petals off for confetti and also used the bloom for necklaces and decoration.

I saw in an Instagram post that Frank and Pamela Arnosky were planting marigolds to use for Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 2. Unfortunately, in our climate they are long since frosted away by then.

Marigolds also have medicinal properties. They are used to address cuts, sores, and general skin care because of the essential oils, and are high in flavonoids such as carotene. They act as an anti-inflammatory to promote topical healing and soothe irritated skin. They are also a good plant to have in your fields. The smell of the plant above the ground deters harmful insects but also if you work the marigold residue into the ground it will cleanse that area of the soil of root insects such as root maggots.
 At first, I thought the seed companies were crazy trying to make marigolds a “thing” again. But they definitely have earned a place in our late summer bouquets. Our florist customers are also loving them!

Add some marigolds to your next seed order!