Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Old Favorites Still Work in Garden

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Old Favorites Still Work in Garden

Article excerpt

Marigolds and nasturtiums may have grown in your grandparents' gardens. Although a walk through your local garden center might make them seem irrelevant next to the newest, latest and greatest introductions from large nursery companies, don't forget these old favorites when planting your garden.

No annual garden should be without the cheerful, bountiful blooms of marigolds (Tagetes species). Marigolds bloom early in the summer and continue non-stop up to the first hard frost in the fall. They are easily started from seed and are a favorite of pre-school children and nursing home residents who can eagerly watch the progression of seeds to plants to flowers

Marigolds are mainstay for beds, containers and window boxes. Their pungent scent repels many insects and is unappealing to deer and rabbits. Culture for this old-fashioned plant is easy. Select an area with good drainage, adequate moisture and full to half-day sun. Young plants should have their first flowers pinched off to encourage more blooms and a bushier plant. Deadhead, or remove spent blooms, to ensure continuous flowering.

Mites, aphids and slugs can occasionally be a problem, but the vigorous growth of marigolds typically overcomes insect problems. Keep the soil around them free of debris and clip off affected leaves at the first sign of damage. More severe infestations can be controlled with a spray of water or insecticidal soap.

Marigolds come in four major categories:

* African - Tall, up to 3 feet and may require staking. They produce large orange and yellow flowers.

* French - Range from 5 to 18 inches tall. Topped with 2-inch flowers with copper, orange and yellow flowers.

* Signet - Feature lacy foliage and small, edible red, orange and yellow flowers.

* Triploid or mule - Sterile hybrids of African and French marigolds.

Hybridizers have also bred "white" marigolds, closer to a cream or pale yellow. They fit well into planting schemes that feature a cool color palette. …

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