I love pottering in the greenhouse and garden and listening to classic rock with my Labradoodle, Florrie.
French marigolds are popular the world over as a versatile easy to grow colourful annual. They are smaller and more compact than their African cousins.
Many supermarkets and garden centres sell french marigolds as plug plants for summer bedding. They are simple to plant out into pots and borders and soon provide a vibrant display.
Slugs and snails love to eat marigolds. They can destroy young plants overnight. Children and pets, like Florrie Labradoodle, can also ruin young plants. A stray ball chased into a flower border can result in a squashed plant or two! Lose a few in this way and the price per plant becomes quite expensive.
Harvest Seed for Free Plants
An inexpensive alternative is to grow your own marigolds by saving seed. Harvest just one seed head at the end of summer. Store it in a dry place over winter. The following Spring you will find it has turned into a crisp, light brown husk. Tear it open and you will find over a hundred marigold seeds inside ready to grow into your own plants!
How to Grow Marigolds from Seed
When Spring has truly arrived and the days are starting to get longer and warmer, it is time to sow your seed. Any seed tray or plug tray will do. I prefer plug trays as I find young plants more manageable in individual cells. I can make plug trays last several years before they disintegrate, so they are quite economical.
Add two seeds per plug and lightly cover in compost. Water well and place in a warm bright place. A greenhouse, conservatory or sunny window ledge is ideal. Wait a couple of weeks and your first seedlings should start to appear!
Should both seeds germinate in a tray cell then keep the strongest and gently pull out the weaker seedling. If you are careful, you can transplant these extra seedlings to tray cells where there are gaps.
The rest is quite simple! Keep your seedlings warm and watered and they will quickly grow on into young plants. Harden them off by gradually introducing the plant tray to outdoor conditions. Start with an hour per day and increase over a period of a week.
Once the chance of frost has passed it is time to plant out your marigold plugs into containers or garden borders. Space them around 6 inches apart in borders. They can be planted close together in tubs and pots. Encourage the plants to bush out by pinching out the first flower bud to appear on the main stem.
In a sunny spot, your marigolds will reward you with flowers all summer long. Regularly deadhead to keep a regular supply of new buds. And remember to keep a seed head for another set of free plants for next year!