Marigolds are just the ticket if you’re looking for a bright spark of color. Not surprisingly, these cheerful flowers are members of the sunflower family. They come in various shades of yellow, gold, brass, copper, orange, and rust, and in sizes from dainty signet marigolds to gigantic 3- to 5-foot African marigolds. The blooms are edible but I’ve never eaten one so I can’t attest to the flavor.
A few petals added to a tossed salad would definitely jazz things up, but be sure the flowers aren’t sprayed with any chemicals. Marigolds also have a long-standing reputation for being a major buzz-kill for unwanted pests, and many vegetable gardeners depend on them. However, a lot of so-called experts say this is nothing more than an old wives’ tale, so the best way to find out is to plant a few marigolds next to your tomatoes or cucumbers and see what happens. It certainly won’t hurt!
My only complaint about marigolds is that sometimes they look like lone solders standing with one bloom on top of each sturdy stem. There are a few ways to get around this. One way is to pinch the first few blooms. This may sound painful and it does delay blooming, but not for long. Every time you pinch those new blooms, the plant branches out and gets bushier. Remember to remove wilted blooms. If you don’t, the plants think it’s time to make seeds instead blooms.
I like to plant marigolds mixed up with other plants so they don’t look so lonely, but that’s my own personal gardening style – a mix of bright colors and textures without a lot of advance planning.