Getting Cracker Jack Marigolds to Bloom for the Hindu Fire Walking Festival

Crackerjack Marigold by miserena
Crackerjack Marigold by miserena

TheGardenLady received this comment from Priven:

Every year I try to grow tons of cracker jack marigolds but they never seem to bloom well and do their best. I need a huge volume of flowers for the Hindu Fire Walking Festival, but still get let down at the last minute. What am I doing wrong? The Festival is on Good Friday towards the end of the South African Summer. Please advise.

It is difficult to determine your problems without seeing your plants. In the United States we have places we can take diseased or problem plants for the problem to be identified and hopefully corrected. These places are often part of the state agricultural extension office.

So let me give you a list of suggestions of things that could prevent the plants from blooming plus a suggestion to add flowers if all else is OK.

It might have been: too late sowing; too much rain; too heavy or too-
rich soil; insufficient sun; overfeeding or over watering.  See here.

My first thought was the soil. If there are certain fungi or other problems in the soil, it is better to choose another location for your next planting.

One problem in the soil may be insect eggs. There are insects that when hatched suck the sap of plants like marigolds. This causes the buds to be flat and empty. One insect is triangular in form and spotted brown or gray. It is called Lygus lineolaris. Lygus insects are found around the world.

Marigolds do not like too much water. If your weather had more than its share of rain, it might be the problem.

Marigolds love sun, sun, sun – no shade.

Marigolds do not like a lot of nitrogen in the soil. They prefer a poorer soil. Fertilizer comes with three letters on the container. NPP which stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium. Each letter goes with a number. The N makes for beautiful healthy leaves. So if you fertilized with a regular fertilizer it would be too rich for the marigold plant and it wouldn’t bloom well.

However, if you want to get a fertilizer to try to get more blooms, get  a fertilizer where the P number in the center (of those letters or numbers) is the highest number. Companies make the fertilizer especially to get lots of blooms and if you read the formula you will see that the middle number is the highest. In the US these formulas are here or “Schultz” Bloom Plus Plant Food or Miracle Grow Bloom Booster.

TheGardenLady has had amazing success with the Schultz product. But with marigolds, go easy on the fertilizer. Even though the Nitrogen amount is low, each time you use the fertilizer you are adding more Nitrogen to the soil. And unless you are a chemist, don’t try to mix the formula by yourself. Without the proper knowledge, you might make the wrong formula. Follow directions on the package to give the proper amount of the fertilizer. And if you are watering your plants each time you give the fertilizer, you can be giving the plants too much water. So use your judgment.

Please let TheGardenLady and her readers know if she helped solve your
problem and send us photos of your Fire Walking Ceremony.

Bangalore Firewalking Festival by bangalore_scs
Bangalore Firewalking Festival by bangalore_scs

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