We love marigolds for their chipper and long-lasting color. Before frost, snip blooms for a wreath—and start planning now for your bumper crop next year.

By Teresa Woodard
August 24, 2020
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MAKE A MARIGOLD WREATH Cut fresh marigold heads and hotglue them to a premade grapevine wreath. The flowers dry nicely, so the wreath can last a couple of seasons if protected from moisture. For a casually stylish look, cluster the marigolds more densely on one side.

Marigold Wreath
| Credit: Adam Albright

All in the Family

In the 1960s, David Burpee (yep, the seed guy) campaigned for marigolds to be our national flower. He lost out to rose enthusiasts, but marigolds remain a fixture in American backyards—and you’ve got dozens to choose from.

'Strawberry Blonde' Marigolds
| Credit: Courtesy of Panamerican Seed

‘STRAWBERRY BLONDE’ This French marigold morphs from yellow-pink to pink-plum or straw yellow in fall. Another chameleon: ‘Fireball’ ages from red to orange, bronze and gold.

Bonanza Bee Marigold
| Credit: Courtesy of Panamerican Seed

BONANZA BEE For high drama, mix this dwarf crested French variety in a border with other Bonanza marigolds in yellow and gold-red. (It’s just 10–12 inches, so plant in front.)

'Vanilla' Marigolds
| Credit: Courtesy of Panamerican Seed

‘VANILLA’ Not all marigolds set the garden aflame. This creamy stunner grows quite large, reaching 24 inches. Other white options: ‘Snowball’ and ‘Kilimanjaro White’.

Marvel II Marigolds
| Credit: Courtesy of Panamerican Seed

MARVEL II Showy pom-pom-style, African-type varieties pop in containers and borders. The Marvel series has giant double blooms and taller stems, reaching 18 inches.

Salvaging Seeds

In October, harvest from this year’s marigolds for next spring’s garden.

DRY Most marigolds are eager volunteers, so if you let spent blooms fall, you can expect some sprouts next spring. Or be more deliberate: After the first frost, snip the brown flower heads and let them dry on a paper plate for a week or more.

HARVEST Rub the hulls between your fingers to release the thin black seeds. Save them in a labeled envelope or glass jar.

PLANT Start seeds indoors, or outdoors after last frost, planting 1 inch apart and no more than 1 inch deep. Note: Seeds gathered from heirloom varieties will produce carbon copies of their parents, while those of hybrids will likely vary.

'Lemon Star' Signet marigolds

All-Purpose Flower

Yes, you can eat some marigolds—if grown chemical-free. Their flavor evokes tarragon or citrus. Scatter petals from Signet marigolds (such as ‘Lemon Star’ above) as a garnish on salads or desserts. You can also mix them with herbs to coat chèvre for a cheese board, or chop them into egg salad.

Did You Know?

Marigolds have long stood for abundance and spirituality. Aztecs believed they had magical or medicinal powers. Early Christians left ‘Mary’s Gold’ on altars in lieu of coins. Marigold garlands hang at Hindu weddings and Diwali celebrations. They also decorate Día de Los Muertos ofrendas in Mexican homes. All in all, not bad for a $1.99 annual.