Marigolds (Tagetes) are not only known for their striking colors and abundant flowers, but they also have many uses and benefits, from health to pest control. This article will cover everything you need about the benefits and uses of the Marigold flower, guaranteeing you’ll want to add one to your garden.
1) Marigolds Are Easy To Grow
First and foremost, most types of Marigolds are incredibly easy to grow and are generally considered rapid bloomers from seed. They flower prolifically without much additional maintenance and rarely give their owners any serious trouble. Placed in the right spot and given some basic care, they will thrive from spring until fall (for more, see our guide to marigold growth expectations).
Place them in a full sun position, give them sufficient water and moderately fertile marigold soil, and they grow to their full potential. Avoid shady areas which impact blooming and lead to the growth of powdery mildew.
2) Marigolds Repel Certain Pests
The pest-repellent qualities of Marigolds are one of the most often repeated benefits of these plants. But some aspects of their repellent characteristics are better researched than others.
What does seem to have scientific backing is that Marigolds repel whiteflies. A University of Newcastle study found that Marigolds protect tomato crops because they naturally disperse a chemical known as limonene into the surrounding air.
The insects hate the smell of limonene and stay away from the Marigolds and any nearby plants. Even better, because limonene repels the whiteflies without killing them, they won’t develop a resistance to it.
Marigolds can also control certain parasitic nematodes. Nematodes are microscopic worms that feed on the roots of plants, damaging essential plant systems and ultimately leading to their demise. Studies show that the Marigold roots release alpha-terthienyl, a toxic chemical that inhibits the hatching of the nematode eggs.
Remember that you must plant the Marigolds around two months before growing your vegetables for this benefit to be practical. It may take a bit of planning, but it’s worth the effort.
3) Marigolds Act As Trap Crops
Trap crops are plants that lure undesirable garden pests away from your veggies, ultimately becoming an edible garden sacrifice when they are pulled at the end of the marigold flowering season. In other words, the trap crop acts as a decoy.
One study found that planting Marigolds with tomatoes reduced the population of Tomato Fruit Borer on the tomato plants. Another study argued that Marigolds in bloom are ideal trap plants for thrips as these bugs are highly attracted to them.
4) Marigolds Attract Beneficial Predatory Insects
Beneficial predatory insects play an essential role in creating a healthy environment in your garden by eating large amounts of harmful insects. Certain types of predatory insects, known as parasitoids, live on host insects that are harmful to your plants, ultimately killing them.
Reliance on these predatory insects also reduces dependence on chemical pesticides that insects become resistant to. It is the most natural way to keep your garden free of damaging or insidious pests.
5) Marigolds Attract Butterflies, Bees & Other Pollinators To Your Garden
As most gardeners know, attracting pollinators has a host of benefits for your garden. This is especially the case in edible gardens, where some plants rely on pollinators to set fruit.
Marigolds are well known for attracting a beloved garden friend, the butterfly. Butterflies are attracted to flowers for the nectar that they produce. They particularly enjoy certain types of French Marigolds because of their clusters of tubular flowers that allow for easy access to the nectar.
To attract butterflies, avoid the frilly blooms of specific cultivars. While very colorful, they will not allow easy access to the nectar. Also, some Marigolds are infertile crosses with no nectar to attract butterflies.
Unlike butterflies, bees specifically seek out pollen as food for their young. Do not be misled by those who claim that Marigolds are bee-repellent, as that is certainly not true.
Marigolds will lure bees to your garden, but only if you select those that allow easy access to the pollen. Signet types are better for honeybees because they offer an equal source of nectar and pollen.
6) Marigolds Are Edible
Some Marigold flowers are edible and have been part of culinary traditions for centuries. The Aztecs were said to use Marigolds in several ways, including as a food source. However, that does not mean they are all tasty, so choosing the right type is essential.
Try eating the raw or blanched petals, fresh or dry leaves, and in sweet or savory dishes. Depending on your chosen species, the flowers taste mildly citrusy to subtly spicy. The best way to test it is to try it for yourself.
7) Marigolds Lower Inflammation and Reduce Free Radical Damage
Most studies dealing with the anti-inflammatory benefits of Marigolds reference Pot Marigolds. It’s important to remember that Pot Marigolds are members of the Calendula genus, while true Marigolds are members of the Tagetes genus, so they are technically not the same plant.
Luckily, many references to Marigolds (Tagetes) are also being used to treat inflammation in folk medicine. A recent study published in 2016 has confirmed folk medicine’s long-held traditions.
The study found that flavonoids and carotenoids, both parts of French Marigold extract, showed characteristics in line with the anti-inflammatory properties referred to in folk medicine.
8) Marigolds Are Good for Eye Health
Studies have confirmed that Marigolds are good for ocular health because they contain two carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids are found naturally in the macula of the human eye.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are potent antioxidants that, amongst other things, protect your eyes from free radicals. Over time, a loss of these antioxidants can impair eye health. Supplementing your diet with Marigold leaves or flowers, a diluted Marigold tea, or a Marigold supplement will do wonders for eye health.
9) Marigolds Have Natural Antiseptic Properties, Healing Skin Wounds, Burns and Rashes
Findings of a study conducted in 2017 suggest that the essential oil of Tagetes minuta could be used to synthesize new and potent antibacterial and antioxidant agents.
Researchers conducted a review of 10 studies dealing with the antimicrobial potential of Tagetes minuta. They confirmed that the organic extracts of Tagetes minuta have antimicrobial activity, providing several benefits for skin health.
In another study, researchers concluded that African Marigold (Tagetes erecta) has antibacterial effects against certain skin infections. They also found that it could help develop drugs for diseases like dermatitis and acne and could potentially be developed as a topical antiseptic.
10) Marigolds Ease Cramps, Spasms, and Haemorrhoid pain
Marigolds are a favorite in treating stomach and intestinal disorders in folk medicine. In a study of the antispasmodic and antidiarrheal capabilities of Tagetes lucida, researchers concluded that it does indeed aid spasms and cramps.
The study’s findings support the view that Tagetes lucida can treat colic and diarrhea associated with several gastrointestinal disorders.
11) Marigolds Are a Natural Food Colouring
With the increasing calls for restrictions on synthetic colors, natural plant pigments are receiving a lot more consideration as possible colorants in foods.
Sometimes referred to as poor man’s saffron, Marigolds are natural colorants that add beautiful golden color to dishes. Lutein, extracted from African Marigolds (Tagetes erecta), is used as a food colorant in many foods, from baked goods to chewing gum and even for toddlers.
12) Marigolds are a Natural Fabric Dye
Lutein is not only used as a food coloring. It is also used commercially and by hobbyists to dye deep yellow fabrics. The dye is made of dried and ground flowers, which produce rich, vibrant yellows, green yellows, and oranges.
13) Marigolds Produce an Essential Oil Used in Perfumery
Marigold essential oils are produced from the flowers using a steam distillation process. The essential oil has a strong, warm, pungent aroma with a powerful fruity undertone.
Even with its natural pungency, Tagetes essential oil is used extensively in perfumes. It is more widely used in men’s perfumery for its strong aroma.
14) Marigolds Make Wonderful Cut Flowers and Décor
Cut Marigold flowers are a welcome addition to floral displays because of their vibrant colors. They are not used as often because of their aromatic scent, but this can be limited by stripping the leaves before adding them to the vase.
Marigolds are also used in displays associated with the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, where participants place the flowers on graves.
In India, Marigolds are used to make garlands, particularly for Hindu weddings. That is because they symbolize the sun, brightness, and positive energy.
15) Dried Marigolds Create Longer Lasting Arrangements
Marigolds not only make excellent cut flowers, but they are also easy to dry for use in long-term floral arrangements.
Trim the flowers in the morning before the day’s heat sets in to prepare for drying. Cut the Marigold stems at the base and hang them upside down in bunches of about 5 or 6.
Be sure to dry them in a warm area with low humidity. Keep them out of the sun to maintain their color. They should be ready to use within a few weeks.
Marigolds are prolific and versatile plants that are both beautiful and useful. Every garden needs at least one, even if it is only for the brightness and cheer they bring.
Madison is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She writes and photographs for various online and print publications in the gardening sphere and is the author of the book The Next-Generation Gardener.