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Gardening From Southern California

...dwarf marigold
by Gerald Burke
by Gerald Burke


Gerald Burke is a freelance travel and horticultural writer. He spent 35 years in the seed business, 30 of them with Burpee, and is a member of the Garden Writers Association and the North American Travel Journalists Association

April 22, 2007

Dwarf marigolds are among the most popular of our summer garden flowers and they lend themselves to many areas of the garden. We plant them in masses for striking displays of color, we plant them as edgings and borders and we plant them in patio containers for their bright colors and their heat tolerance.

Are there any new dwarf marigolds this year? None worth mentioning, but there are still plenty of reliable older varieties, from seed or started plants, to beautify our homes. The Janie series may be about the best and most planted and one we often see as a started plant in the nursery. That’s because the Janie series, Janie gold, deep orange, red and gold, mahogany, yellow and primrose do well just about everywhere and in all conditions. Janie dwarf marigolds tolerate high summer heat, but also do well in coastal gardens, away from salty ocean breezes, and they make good plantings in any garden as a border, in a flower bed and in a container.

Some other varieties are just about as good and you might want to look for the Durango series, Aurora, Happy Days, Queen Sophia, Embers or Honeycomb. These are all double to semi-double, have flowers that get about two inches across on plants that are anywhere from six to 12 inches tall. They are compact, with plants spreading to ten inches, and are always covered with their bright, colorful blooms.

Dwarf marigolds will tolerate just about any summer growing conditions and while not drought resistant, they get by with average water during the summer, and require little or no fertilizer. Snails are their worst enemy, especially after they have just been transplanted, but bugs and disease aren’t a problem. Dwarf marigolds will tolerate full sun everywhere, even in the low desert, but will also grow well in partial shade, as long as they get at least six hours of sunlight.

Dwarf marigolds are easy to start from seed, and will germinate quickly, in about six to ten days from sowing, and can be transplanted when about three inches tall. They will grow well and be in bloom in about four to six weeks. Started plants from the nursery are usually in bloom, in six packs and in four inch pots, and started plants can be set in anytime from March through September.

Most gardeners prefer the double bloom type of dwarf marigolds, but there are some distinctive single kinds that look good in the garden. Look for names such as Disco, Sunburst, and Mr. Majestic. The singles take the same care as the doubles.

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