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 can easily brighten up any garden, balcony or window box in the summer! I particularly like to grow these as companions to my tomato plants and I have explained their benefits in more detail below.
Growing French Marigold flowers
You can easily grow these flowers from seeds indoors or outdoors. I love to start my seeds indoors, as summer is a short season here and my young plants are ready for the outdoors in May! More details about these French Marigolds on the RHS website, if you’d like to read.
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Growing Marigold Flowers – Sowing seeds indoors
Buy a packet of French Marigold seeds if you are growing them for the first time (for future seasons, you can save your own seeds). There are taller and shorter varieties, so choose one which suits your outdoor space. I grow them mostly in tubs and pots, especially with my tomato plants so I prefer to grow the dwarf variety.
- 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 use recycled tubs which I wash and pop a few holes at the bottom for good water drainage.
- Then gently firm and level the compost in the tub with your hand.
- After that, sprinkle the marigold seeds on the compost – do not be tempted to crowd them. 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 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 from below. 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 recycled 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. Make sure that your seedlings 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 the 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 French Marigolds are beneficial for your 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.
Hope you will also be growing these too for your outdoor space or for planting with your tomatoes. Pop over on Instagram @growwithhema to follow my live growing updates!