Wednesday, February 4th, 2009...12:04 am

Caring for Marigolds

Dead Marigolds by blackwilliam1899

Dead Marigolds by blackwilliam1899

TheGardenLady received this question from Anuja.

I have just bought a marigold plant which has a round orange flower. The flower has died in spite of its being kept in a sunny area. What should I do to get the plant back?

TheGardenLady is not quite clear about what died – was it the flower or
the entire plant?

If it was the round orange flower that died, just pinch off the flower. Pinching off the dead flower, which is called dead heading, encourages the plant to force at least one other flower. If you leave the dead flower to dry on the plant, you might not get many more flowers, but you will get seeds.

To get the seeds, you allow the flower to dry ON the plant and when it is really brown and completely dry, clip it off. Then when you want to plant more marigold plants, pull the dried petals out of the dried pod. Each seed is attached to a petal. Plant these seeds and you should get many more plants from all those seeds.

If the entire plant died and there is nothing green about the plant, you will just have to toss it in the compost bin. Flowering plants in pots are much trickier to raise than plants raised in a garden. And even in a garden they can have problems. Potted plants have just a little soil around the root. The little amount of soil might not have enough nutrients for the plant. In a pot, you may not realize it when you over water the plant or under water it. If it is indoors you may think it is in a sunny spot but indoor sun is not as bright as outdoor sun to a plant or the sunny spot near a window may be too hot or too cold-  the temperature has to be just right for the plant. There are a lot of possibilities of what could have gone wrong, including the fact that you might have bought a sick plant.

Raising plants is a challenge. So it is up to you to try to figure out what to do to keep a plant alive. Death is part of life. All life dies. With a plant, death can happen almost in front of your eyes. Sad. Remember that even the best horticulturists have plants that die. But they don’t give up.

So don’t let the challenge stop your trying. Marigold plants are not expensive. Go buy another plant – or even better, buy a packet of marigold seeds and try planting the seeds in a lot of pots. Be scientific about it – keep notes of each plant. Try giving the plants different amounts of water, keep them in different amounts of sun and see if you can figure out what was best or worst for the marigolds – those that lived the longest and had the most blooms as well as the ones that died quickly. You might have a good science project to share with your class or even grow up to be a plant scientist.

Good luck.

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