Marigolds may seem a bit common to us, simply because we are so familiar with them, but really there's no such thing as a "common" plant, as each one is spectacular in its own right. Just take a look at these blooms! Waves of curled petals, layered over each other so delicately, make it plan why these flowers have been cherished for centuries in gardens around the world. The name "marigold" comes from "Mary's gold" since the blooms are used to decorate altars in honor of the Virgin Mary.
The two most commonly found marigolds are French (
Tagetes patula, pictured here) & African (
Tagetes erecta), but both originated in Central and South America and were brought to Europe by Spanish explorers. The Aztecs considered marigolds magical and used them to cure hiccups and the effects of being struck by lightning. The flowers are sometimes used as a cheap substitute for saffron to color foods, and the roots of the plant exude thiophenes, which kill nematodes!
Plant marigolds in containers or flowerbeds that receive full or partial sun. They will bloom profusely, if dead-headed, well into the fall and will tolerate a light frost (28 degrees for several hours). Marigold flowers are edible and would make a stunning garnish for fall soups and salads!