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Year of the Marigold 2018

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Marigolds en masse at RHS Harlow Carr
Marigolds en masse at RHS Harlow Carr

Fleuroselect’s Flower of the Year

I wrote a post on marigolds and calendulas nearly a year ago, not having a clue that 2018 would be named as the Year of the Marigold – no, I don’t predict lottery numbers.

Fleuroselect, the international organisation for the ornamental plants industry, promotes a flower and vegetable every year – next year is also Year of the Pepper (and chilli).

However, that piece took in the wider world of the marigold, including Calendula, whereas this one focuses solely on cultivated Tagetes – African marigolds (usually cultivars and hybrids of the rather tall T. erecta), or French/Indian marigolds (hybrids and cultivars of smaller T. patula). Triploid multi-coloured marigolds are a hybrid between African and French types.

I love Calendula but have never warmed to marigolds, until I saw a huge container overflowing with blooms at Harlow Carr in September 2016 – wow!

Here is my pick of the new season’s seeds, some old, some new  – enjoy!

French Marigold Red Knight, Mr Fothergill’s, £2.29, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk.
Vigorous and quick to flower but remains compact. Blooms attract lots of beneficial insects to the garden. Height 25cm.

French Marigold Striped Marvel, Thompson & Morgan, was £1.99, now 99p, www.thompson-morgan.com.
Raised by a Scottish customer, each petal is evenly divided by a red and yellow stripe. The bushy, uniform plants produce masses of flowers, excellent for cutting, lasting well in water. Occasional all yellow bloom due to climate stress. Height 60-75cm.

Tagetes Red Gem by Sarah Raven. Picture; Jonathan Buckley
Tagetes Red Gem by Sarah Raven. Picture; Jonathan Buckley

Tagetes Red Gem, Sarah Raven, £1.95, www.sarahraven.com.
Many marigold flowers are top-heavy and out of proportion to the compact plants, but not this one, with mahogany crimson blooms. Perfect for pots, as well as underplanting tomatoes. Picture by Jonathan Buckley. Height 30cm.

French Marigold Strawberry Blonde, Plants of Distinction, £2.95, www.plantsofdistinction.co.uk.
This French marigold is lauded in many catalogues and for good reason – it’s a breakthrough in breeding with multicoloured blooms on a single plant. Flowers open a soft shade of strawberry-pink or peach melba with a rustic yellow crest later ageing to a straw-yellow colour. Highly tolerant of bad weather, giving a long display in containers, beds and borders. Height 25cm.

Indian Marigold Kushi, Suttons, £4.99 for 20 seeds, www.suttons.co.uk.
The first Indian marigold on the UK market, and rain resistant, inspired by the garlands created for weddings and occasions throughout the subcontinent. Kushi means ‘Joy’ in Hindi. With longer stems, it’s ideal for cutting. Flowers July-September. Height 60-70cm.

French Marigold Durango Red, Marshalls, £2.99, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk (not pictured).
Anemone-flowered French marigold with intense rich-red blooms with a hint of golden edging to each petal. Height 25cm.

African Marigold 3 in 1 Collection, Unwins, £4.99, www.unwins.co.uk (not pictured).
Tricolor collection of orange Crackerjack, white Kilimanjaro and Perfection Yellow. Height 35cm.

African Marigold Spinning Wheels, Mr Fothergill’s, £2.60, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk.
A colour co-ordinated mix of large African marigolds, guaranteed to bloom throughout the summer. Ideal for pots and bedding. Height 75cm.

French Marigold Alumia Vanilla Cream, Dobies, £2.49, www.dobies.co.uk.
A British-bred variety in a unique primrose colour, a first for French marigolds. Its flowers are edible, with a citrusy taste. Height 25cm.

To check out a wider range of marigolds, including our wonderful ‘English marigold’ – Calendula – visit here.

Want to know how to grow half-hardy annuals? Check out my step-by-step instructions here.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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