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What is an African Marigold?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2016
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African marigold is a genus, or group of species, of brightly colored flowers that are related to daisies. They normally have tiny blossoms which form a tight, round cluster. This cluster may appear to be a single ruffled bloom. They are typically yellow, orange, or red in color, but can also be white or cream-colored. These flowers are usually annuals, which means they will likely die in cold weather.

These plants can grow up to three feet (.3 m) in height. The blooms of an African marigold are usually around three inches (7.6 cm) in width. Dwarf varieties may grow to only one foot (.9 m) high, and may have blossoms the same size as taller varieties. They can normally spread up to two feet (.6 m) from side to side.

The leaves of these household plants are usually long, pointed, and slender. They are typically found on either side of a long stem that extends outward from the center stalk. They can be medium or dark green in color. They may protrude slightly above the blossom of the flower itself.

African marigold flowers are mostly grown in containers or flowerbeds. Most varieties prefer full sunlight and soil that is well-drained, meaning it does not hold water. They can normally be planted in spring after the danger of frost has passed and will usually bloom until mid to late autumn in most areas.

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This group of flowers typically has a strong fragrance which can often be unpleasant. This sometimes means they are useful in repelling harmful garden insects, such as moths and nematodes. Gardeners sometimes plant them next to peppers or tomatoes for this reason. Other times, they might be planted at the edge of a garden or perimeter of a yard because they are believed to be a deterrent for deer.

Although an African marigold may sometimes be referred to as French marigold or Mexican marigold, they are actually different flowers. French varieties are generally smaller than African types, with flower petals being separated rather than in puffs. Mexican varieties typically have similar blossoms, but tend to droop or bend downwards rather than being upright like African kinds.

The African marigold can be found in many locations, such as India, Mexico, Thailand, Europe, and South America. These flowers are sometimes desirable as an accent plant because of their height and color. They typically need very little care in order to thrive, so they might be a good choice for beginning gardeners.

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