I love when little projects fall right into my lap. Early this spring, I was dying for color in the front of the house. Everything was feeling pretty bleak, so I decided annuals would add the splash I was looking for. But, growing marigolds has branched out to a few different side activities. One became the ideal answer for the quarantine blues, another helped Revi learn how to be a pro with scissors, and the last is a project tucked away for next spring!
The marigolds have taken over the front garden. The front of our house gets blasted with 8+ hours of sun a day, and it can be a challenge to successfully landscape. I planted them shortly after the last frost here in the Chicago area, which is generally the middle of May. Groups of three or six plants (in May) have grown into large bushes, covered in blooms.
It’s laughable, and of course, the joke–”I don’t think we have enough flowers”–never gets old. Especially since, if Scott had it his way, our landscaping would be clean, modern and well-maintained, as opposed to the overgrown, wildflower extravaganza that has developed.
The Perfect Bouquet
Quarantine life is tough. Celebrations, get-togethers, holidays…everything looks different. You know what makes it better? Flowers. True story. If you can’t get close enough to Grandma to give her a hug, take her a bouquet of flowers. How many drive-by birthday parties have you “attended” during the past six months? With three kids and a ton of people hoping to make their kiddo’s day as special as possible, you can’t possibly buy them all gifts. And, of course, the parents aren’t expecting that. But, next to a handmade card, what’s a good gift? Flowers.
Little bouquets have become the perfect way for us to mark celebrations. By growing marigolds, you’ve got a flower shop right in your own yard. The marigold is basically the carnation of landscaping–the “filler flower” that keeps on giving.
Practice with Scissors
At three years old, Reverie is all about scissors. She wants to cut everything she can get her hands on. And, since it seems that no matter where I put the scissors, she is able to get to them, I needed to find her something to cut. Fast.
She picked up on cutting stems right away, because unlike paper, you can cut these without having to position with one hand and cut with the other. Also, the stem is substantial enough that it doesn’t shift during cutting. The resulting trims are the perfect way to decorate our flower wall in the backyard, so it’s kind of a win-win.
Finding Marigold Seeds
It was during one of our cutting sessions that we noticed the marigold seeds, tucked safely into the base of the flower, at the top of the stem. Once the flower is wilted, it’s weirdly satisfying to pull them out and spread them around.
Growing marigolds is a popular Mother’s Day activity in school, and having planted the seeds years ago with my first graders, I recognized them right away. They remind me of little matchsticks. I began to consider how easy it might be to use this year’s crop for next year’s garden. Why?
#1 I love these ‘circle of life’ lessons for my kids.
#2 I’m frugal.
#3 Quarantine life.
Things to Consider
My newest experiment was to harvest the marigold seeds with the kids, in an effort to plant them next spring. But, what’s important to keep in mind? From what I’ve read, it’s a good idea to find flowers that are on their way to drying out. And, while you don’t need to deadhead marigolds, you can extend & increase blooming when you do it. Because who doesn’t need MORE FLOWERS?!?
To collect the seeds, I’ve seen recommendations to use flowers where the base has begun to turn brown. But, I found that the seeds were easy to harvest from most blooms that were “on the decline,” whether still green or turning brown. So, it may take some trial and error. Because excess moisture can cause mold, doing the harvest after a couple good days of sunshine is probably best.
Since Reverie has made it her job to cut blooms in each and every stage, I had a good selection of blooms to dissect and see what was happening. Turns out, you really can’t go wrong. But, time will tell.
How to Harvest the Seeds
Hold the stem end between two fingers on one hand and the bloom end between two fingers on the other. Gently pull apart.
The flower petals easily separate. The base pulls away from the seeds almost automatically. And, you’re left with a stash of marigold seeds!
The Drying Process
I’ve read the recommendation that the seeds should be placed on a dry paper towel, in a spot, away from direct sunlight and moisture for about a week. Then, the seeds can be placed in envelopes, tucked away in a cool, dark place in preparation for springtime planting.
When to Plant the Seeds
Because I know I’m going to forget about this, I’ve already put a reminder in my phone. I’ve read that you can plant them right into the ground, growing marigolds from seeds outside. But, they won’t produce blooms for 8 weeks, which seems like too long to wait. So, I’m making it a goal to start them inside with the kids around the beginning of April, transplanting them after that “last frost” date in May. Maybe that will get us flowers toward the beginning of June? One can only hope!
Are you ready to go get some seeds from flowers in your yard?!?