There’s a reason you see marigolds in so many Florida gardens — they’re easy to grow, bloom reliably all summer, and have few insect and disease problems.

Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) have long been touted for their ability to suppress plant-parasitic nematodes. While it’s true that many marigolds produce the chemical alpha-terthienyl, shown to reduce certain populations of plant-parasitic nematodes, simply planting them alongside another crop (intercropping) has not been shown to reduce nematode populations. You can learn more about this topic in our article, “Garden Myths, Volume One.”

Nonetheless, the marigold is a reliable Florida annual. Available in mainly a range of yellows and oranges, these hardy annuals are often used for color massing, edging, borders, cut flowers and container plantings.

French marigolds excel year-round while the large-flowered African types are best for spring. The marigold will grow one to two feet tall, and needs full sun. The brightly colored flowers can be single or double. Try pairing them with plants that have dark-colored foliage to make the flowers really pop.

They make great cut flowers and are most effective in mass plantings; place them at least a foot apart. They’ll fill in to create a groundcover in an open bed or beneath a small tree.

Another flowering plant species, Calendula officinalus, is often confused with marigold, so much so that it’s called “pot marigold.” We refer to them as calendula on Gardening Solutions. While calendula is widely accepted as an edible flower, there is much disagreement on the edibility of marigolds, probably due to the confusion with calendula.

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