Sewing Seeds: Marigold profile
Marigolds are probably the most well known of the plants we have growing in our garden. You see them all over the place; displayed prominently in window boxes and lawn edges, planted discreetly amongst tomato plants (to discourage negative nematodes from destroying the crop). They add a pop of color to any planting and are entirely low maintenance which makes them even more appealing to the urban gardener.
The english name marigold encompasses a number of different genus and species of flowers which are all contained within the asteraceae family. Common marigold falls under the genus tagetes which is then further divided into more than 50 species. One of the marigolds we have growing is known as tagetes patula and referred to as French marigold. Another we have growing is tagetes erecta or African/American marigold.
African/American marigold – tagetes erecta
French marigold – tagetes patula
Marigolds, depending on the species, can be either annuals or perennials. Both of the marigolds we have growing are annuals. But their growth habits are about all they have in common. While African marigolds are tall (up to 3 ft!) French marigolds are short and bushy. The large showy bright yellow flowers of the African marigold almost outshine the subtle beauty of the often dual colored light wavy flowers of French marigold. They DO, both being of the asteraceae family, contain the colorant luteolin and can be used to make beautiful dye.
Marigold dye bath
Dyes produced from marigolds range in color from bright yellow to khaki green depending on the mordant and fabric used. Marigold dye is not in widespread production today but many crafty people around the world are dyeing yarn, wool and cotton with this versatile plant.
Marigold dyed textile from Turkey