Growing your own flowers like the French Marigolds can be very rewarding. French marigolds bring such vibrant colour to your outdoor space. Here in the UK, the vibrant orange hues of these robust French Marigolds easily brighten up any garden or balcony in the summer! There is more information on the Royal Horticultural Society website.
Growing French Marigold flowers
You can easily grow these flowers from seeds indoors or outdoors. I love to start my seeds indoors in March as summer is a short season here!
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Sowing seeds indoors
Buy a packet of French Marigold seeds if you are growing them for the first time.
- First, place some seed sowing compost in a small pot or container. Seed sowing compost has the ideal texture to hold moisture for the seeds to germinate. However, you can use multi purpose compost for seed sowing too. I like to recycle my mushroom tubs which I wash and pop a few holes at the bottom for good water drainage. They make the ideal container to sow the seeds in!
- Then level the surface of the compost in the tub with your hand.
- After that, sprinkle the marigold seeds on the compost – less is more. You can sow some now and leave the rest to sow in a couple of months, so that you have an extended season of French Marigolds!
- Now, lightly cover with some more seed sowing compost.
- Then water the tub. You can use a fine spray or place the tub in a tray of water so that it can be absorbed. Either way of watering is fine.
- Finally cover with a plastic bag and place in a warm place. I keep my covered tub in the kitchen by the boiler.
- Within a week or two, you will see green leaves peeping through. Remove the plastic cover and place the tub on a bright windowsill. This will allow the leaves to receive the sunlight that they need.
Growing on the windowsill
- Keep them moist by watering when needed. I like to let them absorb the water from below by sitting the seedling tub in a tray of water.
- On the windowsill, turn the tub daily so that the seedlings don’t bend to one side only (they will stretch towards the window for light).
- Once they have the second set of leaves, also called true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted.
Transplanting French Marigolds
- You will need multipurpose compost for this. Fill small pots or more mushroom tubs with holes made at the bottom.
- Carefully lift the seedlings (I do it with an old fork), and one by one plant them in their new pots. Each small pot can have one seedling in them. A mushroom tub can have more seedlings which are well spaced out in them – about 5 cm apart.
- After the seedlings have been transplanted, sit the new pots or tubs in a tray of water. Place the transplanted seedlings on a windowsill to grow. In late April, place the plants outside in the daytime and bring them back indoors at night. This is called hardening and allows the plants to get used to outdoor conditions.
Planting French Marigolds outdoors
- You can plant them outdoors in May (in London) when the danger of frosty nights is over. French marigolds are easy to grow in pots, planters and garden borders.
- Keep them well watered and they should start blooming within a few weeks!
Why are French Marigolds beneficial for the garden?
French Marigolds are low maintenance plants and are great at attracting bees and butterflies. These flowers have natural pyrethrins which keeps the aphids away. They also have a strong scent. Therefore French marigolds can easily confuse pests when planted in between vegetables.
Planting these flowers with vegetables and tomatoes also helps to keep the slug damage to a minimum. This is because the slugs love marigolds, so they will attack these flowers instead of your vegetables.
For all these reasons, they make great companions plants and these French marigolds are an integral part of my vegetable garden! I have grown them successfully every year and Saved my own Marigold Seeds too.