Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) are often thought of for their wonderful orange and yellow hues and their role as one of the most popular plants for kids.
However, marigolds are some of the most useful plants in your garden, and those benefits don’t end there.
In fact, marigolds have different uses in complementary gardening, aesthetics, industry, medicine, and even cooking!
Let’s have a look at some of these incredible uses.
Benefits Of Marigold Plants And Blooms
There are many plants nicknamed marigolds besides the Tagetes genus, but we’ll only touch upon one: the pot marigold, AKA common marigold (Calendula officinalis).
But first, let’s look at what true marigolds can do.
Also referred to as companion planting, complimentary gardening is the practice of finding plants with a visual and physical benefit that can bolster other plants.
Depending on the plants involved, this can mean attracting pollinators, repelling pests, and even boosting the growth rate of nearby plants.
Marigolds have a lot of benefits to your garden, making them a great choice when you want a little help with maintenance.
Marigolds aren’t just attractive to people. Marigold flowers are highly visible to many species of insects, and the promise of nectar can draw all sorts of beneficial insects to your garden.
Pollinators such as bees and butterflies are more likely to visit plants when a marigold is nearby.
Likewise, predator insects such as hoverflies, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps will be drawn by these lovely flowers.
From there, these friendly little bugs will actively hunt pest insects, making the need for insecticides even less likely.
True marigolds have a slightly pungent smell that won’t bother most humans but are absolutely terrible for a wide range of pests, including:
- Mexican bean beetles
- Parasitic nematodes
You can plant them as a border around vulnerable plants or even intersperse them as long as the roots of the marigolds and other plants are at different depths (so they won’t compete for water).
Some plants that benefit from having marigolds nearby include:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Mexican bush beans
While marigolds repel some pests, they attract others – especially Japanese beetles, slugs, snails, thrips, and tomato fruit borers.
You can use this to your advantage by planting marigolds as sacrificial trap plants, drawing these pests away from more valuable plants.
We could easily talk about the visual appeal of marigolds, but there’s more to true marigolds than just a pretty face.
In fact, a lot of their benefits happen when you remove them from the garden.
The color and shape of marigolds can create a wonderful addition to any bouquet and can even make a statement in flower arrangements.
Dried flowers can hold their color for a long time, making them a perfect addition to displays and landing them an important place in various holiday celebrations.
Believe it or not, many tagetes, plants’ flowers, and even leaves are edible.
The petals have mild citrus or spicy taste and are slightly bitter.
Meanwhile, the greens provide a similar flavor and can be blacked or added to a salad raw.
Another benefit of eating this flower is that it contains carotenoids that help keep the eyes healthy.
Making marigold tea will allow you to consume these important nutrients even if the taste is too bitter otherwise.
Marigolds are also surprisingly useful in industrial and commercial settings.
Tagetes minuta has an important role in the production of marigold essential oil.
This oil is used to make perfume and as a flavoring in the food and tobacco industries.
Meanwhile, Tagetes erecta is a highly prized food coloring throughout Europe and is used in everything from pasta to salad dressing and even in ice cream.
However, this particular trait hasn’t caught on in the US, and the dye is used almost entirely in coloring poultry feed.
Marigolds are also commonly used as dyes in the textile industry.
According to studies conducted in 2017, the essential oil produced by Tagetes minuta may have some medical benefits.
These studies found antioxidant and antibacterial properties in the essential oil, suggesting it could be useful in anti-aging creams and as a topical treatment for many types of dermatitis.
Marigolds have been used often in folk medicine to help treat cramps and gastrointestinal issues, and there’s research suggesting these uses might have a basis in reality.
Common Marigold Uses
While not a true marigold, we’d be amiss if we didn’t also discuss Calendula officinalis – the common marigold.
These plants have a similar appearance to true marigolds but are native to Europe and have some different uses.
Much like their American cousins, the essential oil of common marigolds has shown potential as an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
They’ve been used as a folk remedy against minor skin irritations, chapped lips, and sunburn.
Other folk remedies using this flower include liver cleansing and reducing fevers.
Common Marigolds as Food
As with true marigolds, the common marigold has edible flowers, which are great for salads.
In fact, it’s often referred to in culinary circles as “poor man’s saffron” because it makes a great substitute for this highly expensive herb.
But it shines perhaps best as tea.
While not recommended for children under 6 or pregnant women, this tea can benefit everyone else.
As a tea, it can be used as a tasty detox drink.
Its anti-inflammatory properties also help control the intensity of menstrual cramps.
The slightly bitter tea can be either soothing or stimulating, depending on any additional flavors you add in, such as chamomile or mint.
Common Marigolds as a Garden Substitute
While similar in many ways, common marigolds can have slightly different effects in the garden.
Planting both common and true varieties will allow for t maximum garden benefits while brightening up your yard, but they also make a great replacement when you don’t want to use true marigolds.