Hello sunshine! That’s the cheerful greeting from marigolds, and what better tonic is there than a bed, border or container filled with marigolds.
Marigolds are fuss-free, quick-growing, and cope with the heat even during the hottest time of the year. They are relatively drought tolerant, needing regular but not excessive watering. The flowers are edible, the leaves can be used in insect-repelling sprays and the roots produce a substance (alpha-terphenyl) that suppresses the growth of plant-parasitic nematodes and other organisms such as fungi, bacteria, insects, and some viruses. A good, all-round garden citizen.
There are two types of marigolds, and each has their charm and use in the garden.
African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) have large double flower heads that are ball shaped. Most varieties are 30 – 40cm high, carrying the round heads above dark green leaves on sturdy, compact plants that always look lush and healthy. In addition to yellow, gold and orange there is a creamy-white variety called ‘Vanilla’. They are best used as a bedding and landscape plant, massed in front of taller perennials like salvia, pentas, ornamental millets, grasses and shrubs.
French marigolds (Tagetes patula) have a variety of flower shapes; anemone, frilly doubles and crested doubles. The anemone type is the showiest, with a wide range of colours, the prettiest being mahogany edged with yellow or golden yellow tipped with red. The double crested varieties have larger frilly flowers that come closest to the pom pom shape. Novelties are ‘Fireball’ and ‘Strawberry Blonde’ that produce multicolour blooms on the same plant. Most French marigolds grow 25cm high and wide but there are very compact dwarf varieties that stay 15cm high and wide and are very heat tolerant.
French marigolds are good edging and border plants for smaller spaces and can be used en masse as bedding plants. They combine well with Angelonia, alyssum, bedding salvia, Felicia, petunias and vinca. They are durable, rewarding container plants that don’t overwhelm other plants in a mixed container.
Hanging baskets and containers are ideal to brighten up small balconies and large patios. Whether you are looking for bursts of brilliant colour or more muted tones there are various options to delight your senses.
For the most glorious displays, follow the general rule of using thrillers, spillers and fillers in your containers and baskets. The thriller is the central feature plant, like a pelargonium, salvia or other eye-catching plants. The filler provides the bulk and is usually compact and full of flowers, like impatiens, osteospermum or lobelia. Spillers are planted around the edge and are trailing or cascading plants. Here are a few basket combinations to wet the appetite:
Shades of Pink - Shock Wave Petunias (Petunia x hybrid) are the earliest flowering of all petunias and their strong branches spread out quickly to fill up baskets and containers. The Pink Vein variety is a soft pink with darker veins that run through the petals. These pink beauties are combined with Blue Bacopa (Sutera cordata) to weave in pops of lavender or blue amongst the show of pink, creating an overflow of cotton candy coloured blooms in the basket or container.
Yellow & White – This basket of sunshine combines the bold, bright yellow blooms of Osteospermum Voltage Yellow with the crisp Petunia Easy Wave (Petunia x hybrida) in white. Expect an abundant gush of big, bright blooms from spring through to autumn. This combination is easy to grow, hardy and will make a lasting impact when placed in a sunny spot.
Bold - This basket is like a rainbow of colour bursting out of the pot. Plant Calibrachoas in deep yellow, rose and purple for a colour sensation that will bring happiness to any balcony, patio or garden. These brilliant blooms grow best in low-light and tolerate shade well.
These are just a few of the stylish ways you can fill your baskets or containers, however, the options are endless. You can create your masterpiece according to your personal taste and remember colours don’t clash when it comes to plants. For more inspiration visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre and select from the wide variety of hanging baskets, containers and flowers to brighten up your home