In October, while most of the garden is shades of solid greens, the marigolds are multi-shades of vibrant yellows, reds and oranges in stunning single and bi-colour patterns. In this growing zone, marigolds start blooming in late June or early July and by the fall are really (as Beyoncé might say) feeling themselves.
Marigolds are the perfect fall flower for colour palette alone but also because they thrive in spite of chilly temperatures and shorter daylight hours.
Before the first hard frost hits I'm cutting marigolds for vases and bringing inside potted marigolds so I can enjoy them for longer.
My very first plantings of marigolds were store bought but now I only plant from harvested seeds.
It was never my intention to harvest marigold seeds. It's the blooms, at the height of their beauty, I can't resist and I collect them by the basket full. The more I pluck, the more marigold blossoms are produced. Magic!
Inside the house I watch them dry and change colours - to mustard yellows, burnt oranges and burgundies. Then I discover seeds inside the pod, at the base of the blossom.
Now I save the seeds. Saving seeds for planting reminds me how great nature is. It's a comforting micro ritual - harvesting, sowing, planting, and enjoying marigold blooms.
I read you only get viable seeds if you let the blooms ripen and wilt on the plant before you harvest. I had no idea and was plucking blooms long before they died.
However, experience tells me you can harvest early as long as you allow the flowers to dry and leave the seeds undisturbed to ripen in the pod. I've had very good luck growing seeds harvested this way. Still, I always assume not every seed will grow and I plant them extra thick. Lord knows I have plenty!
Would you like some marigold seeds?
Type your name in the comment section and I will randomly draw five names and send you each a packet of seeds. Open to readers everywhere!
I hope you grow some marigolds and enjoy them as much as I do.
One final note: marigolds are not only the perfect fall flower but wonderful companion plants for your garden. They balance the garden's ecosystem by repelling harmful insect pests like aphids and white flies. Even their roots are at work underground releasing into the soil thiopene, a chemical that repels harmful nematodes.