Thursday, October 9, 2014

How to Save Marigold Seed

There was a time when I just didn't get marigolds. I saw them being sold at plant centers by the thousands and wondered "who on earth buys these boring flowers?"

Then, I started gardening.

Specifically, I began organic gardening. One of the first things I learned as I began growing food is that marigolds are a must-have. The marigold is described as a workhorse in the garden, driving away pests like aphids and cabbage worms and rabbits. Though some will claim that the miracles of the marigold are overstated, I know many gardeners who have sworn by these beauties for years. I no longer see them as boring, I see them as incredible in their simple beauty, and I'll include them for as long as I garden.

Marigolds rock because:

  • They are very easy to grow, either transplanted or from seed.
  • They come in a stunning variety of shapes and colors, adding gorgeous splashes of red, yellow, and orange to the garden.
  • They release compounds that destroy nematodes that feast on and destroy root systems.
  • Their pungent odor has been said to keep deer and bunnies at bay.
  • Some people swear that planting them by tomatoes improves the flavor of the tomatoes. My grandma planted a marigold by each of her tomato plants religiously.
  • They are edible! Some varieties taste better than others; Lemon Gem, other Gem varieties, Mexican, and Signet are popular edible choices. Grow those and you can pick off  a flower or two for your salad or chopped and cooked into rice.
  • They bloom continuously. All spring, summer, and into fall, marigolds put out new blooms. You'll have beautiful swatches of color all season long.
  • They are wonderful for bees and other pollinators.

Once you realize how simple it is to save marigold seeds, you will never buy another packet again (unless you want to add another variety to your stash, of course!).

It's so simple, there is no reason NOT to. You'll have thousands of seeds with very little effort, and will have ample marigolds every single year.

Saving Marigold Seed

  • Throughout the season, but mostly in the fall, the marigold flower heads will shrivel up and dry out while still on the plant.
  • Simply pull off these dead head and allow them to completely dry indoors.
  • Toss them all in a jar to store through the winter, and in the spring you'll have more marigold seeds than you could possibly use.
  • I take the dried flower heads out in the spring when the threat of frost is gone, and I sprinkle them generously all over where I want marigolds. Not all of them will germinate, but a ton of them will!

Repurposed plastic relish container holding 16 marigold dead heads;
this will give me hundreds of seeds for the next season.

When ready to plant, it's simple.
Peel away any of the dead petals and you will see the seeds.

The seeds pull out easily.
Start marigolds indoors, or do what I do; in the spring,
I simply scatter them all over the beds I want marigolds to grow.
Enjoy your marigolds! Leave a comment if you have a new-found (or old and long-standing) love for marigolds. :)

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  1. Thank you!I am new to marigolds and I was just thinking of buying them for the very first time and I stumbled upon your very cute blog!

    1. Hi Brittany! So glad you stumbled here, welcome. <3 Yes, buy some marigolds. Not only can you save the seeds forever more, but if you let them go, the seeds will naturally drop and reseed themselves. They are such a beautiful, hardy, and helpful flower!

  2. How many marigolds should I plant for genetically healthy seeds? I'd want to avoid having genetically stunted seeds 20 years from now. I know sunflowers require a population of 80+ plants for genetic diversity.

  3. Hi there Doing my marigolds now for next year. Beautiful bounty. They are so easy. Thanks for your blog.You are encouraging and accurate. ty

  4. Do u know what the big blooms are called ? i did those for many years. I miss that.

  5. I plucked semi fresh blooms for seed harvesting. Is there a time where it's too early for the seeds (do they have to be like totally dead) ? I want the seeds to grow next year :/

    1. I have found that as long as you let them dry out completely, it's okay to take the flower heads before they are completely dead. Keeping the seeds completely dry is key to success. I keep those little anti-moisture packets that come in shoeboxes and other products, and I tuck them in with my completely dried-out seeds. Good luck, I think you'll find that marigolds are super hardy and so easy to grow from saved seed!

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