Everything You Need to Know About the Toxicity of Marigolds
Marigolds are gorgeous, vibrant flowers that bring cheer and joy to any garden in spring and summer. They also make excellent companion plants that can protect your vegetable plot. But do you need to protect yourself or your furry family members from marigolds? In this article, we’ll explain whether marigolds are toxic to humans, pets, and other animals.
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- Are Marigolds Toxic or Poisonous? – The Essentials
- Botanical Overview
- About Marigolds
- Are Marigolds Toxic to Humans, Pets, and Other Animals?
- Do Marigolds Affect Allergies?
- What Happens to Pets If They Ingest Marigolds?
- What to Do If Your Pet Becomes Unwell?
- Tips and Considerations for Handling Marigolds
- Caring for Marigolds
- Wrapping Up
Are Marigolds Toxic or Poisonous? – The Essentials
Marigolds are not toxic to humans and are edible in small amounts, but eating large quantities may cause minor issues. However, marigolds are mildly toxic to cats, dogs, and other animals. Marigolds may cause irritation, diarrhea, and vomiting, so keep your pets away from marigolds wherever possible.
|Scientific Name:||Tagetes spp.|
|Native Range:||Mexico and parts of Central and South America|
|Growing Zones:||USDA Zones 2 to 11|
|Flowering Season:||Late spring until fall|
|Colors:||Orange, red, yellow, white|
Marigolds belong to the Tagetes genus of the daisy or sunflower family (Asteraceae). There are approximately 50 accepted species within the genus. Tagetes marigolds are often confused with pot marigolds, which belong to the Calendula genus.
Marigolds are fragrant flowering annuals that have composite flowers and an aromatic scent. Each flower head has central disc florets surrounded by a ray of petals. Marigold flowers can be single, double, or semi-double and come in orange, red, yellow, and white colors. Marigold plants can grow anywhere from 6 to 24 inches tall.
Various civilizations, including the Aztecs, have cultivated tagetes marigolds. Marigolds are edible in small quantities and are also grown as cut flowers for vases and bouquets.
Marigolds also have a range of symbolic meanings. These plants are associated with positive energy and emotions such as happiness and optimism. However, marigolds have more somber representations in some cultures and can symbolize grief and mourning.
Are Marigolds Toxic to Humans, Pets, and Other Animals?
Tagetes marigolds are generally considered to be non-toxic to humans and animals. Most marigold species have edible flowers, although it’s always best to check that your marigold species is edible. Marigold flowers have a slightly spicy or peppery taste and a citrus-like flavor.
The most common edible marigold species are:
- African marigolds (Tagetes erecta)
- French marigolds (Tagetes patula)
- Lemon marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia)
- Mexican mint marigolds (Tagetes lucida)
It’s also possible to eat young marigold leaves in small quantities. However, marigolds can produce sap when cut or handled. This sap can cause skin irritation if it comes into contact with exposed skin, so always wear gloves when handling marigolds. After handling marigolds, avoid touching your eyes and mouth until you’ve thoroughly washed your hands.
However, marigolds are mildly toxic to household pets such as cats, dogs, and other animals. If your pet ingests or brushes up against marigolds, they may suffer negative but not life-threatening effects. Marigolds generally cause dermatological irritation, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Do Marigolds Affect Allergies?
Although marigolds aren’t considered to be toxic to humans, they can trigger severe allergies like hay fever. Tagetes marigolds have very strong scents that may also exacerbate conditions such as asthma. If you don’t have asthma but are sensitive to odors, it’s worth avoiding marigolds.
Marigolds can also produce a large amount of pollen that can cause problems if you suffer from hay fever. Marigolds are in bloom from late spring until the fall. If you suffer badly from hay fever, avoid adding marigolds to your garden during this period.
What Happens to Pets If They Ingest Marigolds?
Despite your best efforts, pets can sometimes ingest marigolds. Although small quantities may not cause any harmful effects, eating large amounts of marigolds can cause your pet some discomfort.
Tagetes marigolds can have dermatological effects on pets such as cats and dogs. If your pet has been rubbing against marigolds, they could suffer from skin irritation caused by the sap. If they start scratching excessively or have visible signs of irritation, use mild soap and water to calm the area. Pets may also chew marigolds, causing irritation around the mouth.
If your pet eats marigold flowers or leaves, they can suffer from diarrhea and stomach discomfort. If your pet begins to vomit after eating marigolds, consult your vet as the effects may be serious. Swelling is another serious effect of your pet coming into contact with marigolds.
What to Do If Your Pet Becomes Unwell?
Tagetes marigolds can cause serious discomfort for your furry friends, especially on their skin or within their stomach. Make sure that they’re well hydrated, and observe them for a few hours. The effects should pass after a while. Most of the problems caused by marigolds are not life-threatening for your pets.
Skin irritation is a common problem when pets come into contact with marigolds. If you do see signs of irritation on your pet, clean the affected area with some mild soap mixed with water. If the problem persists, consult your veterinarian for advice.
If your pet shows serious symptoms such as vomiting or swelling, contact your vet immediately. Follow your vet’s advice and book your pet in for an evaluation if necessary.
Tips and Considerations for Handling Marigolds
While marigolds aren’t considered to be toxic to humans, they can sometimes cause discomfort when being handled. Like many plants, marigolds produce sap whenever they’re cut. This sap can cause minor skin irritation if it touches exposed skin.
Whenever you’re handling marigolds, wear gloves to protect your hands. If possible, wear long-sleeved clothing to protect your arms and trousers to protect your legs. After handling marigolds, avoid rubbing your face or eyes, and always wash your hands.
Caring for Marigolds
Marigolds are wonderfully helpful annuals that are also easy to grow, especially for novice gardeners. These flowers need 6 to 8 hours of full sun daily and should be watered approximately once a week.
Marigolds will happily grow in most soil types as long as the medium is fertile and well-draining. For vibrant, pungent flowers, fertilize your marigolds with a high phosphorus fertilizer during the season. These productive annuals should only need a couple of diluted doses.
To increase your crop of flowers, prune or “pinch” young marigolds once they reach 5 inches tall. Throughout the flowering season, deadhead any spent or wilting flowers to help the plant focus on new blooms. As annuals, marigolds will die off during the winter, so you won’t need to cut them back.
Marigolds stand up reasonably well to pests and diseases. Common pests include aphids and caterpillars, but these intruders can be washed off using a hose. Marigolds can suffer from a few diseases, including blight, leaf spot, and powdery mildew.
Marigolds are beautiful, edible annuals that are non-toxic to humans. However, marigolds can exacerbate allergies such as asthma or hay fever. Marigolds are mildly toxic to cats, dogs, and other animals. If your pet rubs against or ingests marigolds, they can suffer from skin irritation and stomach discomfort. If your pet suffers symptoms such as vomiting or swelling, contact your vet.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.