Among the most used herbaceous plants to embellish our gardens is definitely the tagete, also known as “Indian carnation”. It is a species belonging to the Tagetes genus, which has about fifty species of annual or perennial plants, and the vast family of Asteracea.
The tagete, originating in South America and Central America, was exported to Europe for the first time in the 14th century, coming mainly from Mexico. In Italy it is a widespread plant, both for the ease of cultivation and because it lends itself to its choreographic qualities, to make a colorful ornament inside flowerbeds and balconies. The height of the tag can range from about 25 to about 90 cm. The stem is shaped like a ramus bush and the leaves are shiny, dark green. The flowers are simple and double twigs (or “catalysts”), much like carnations. Their color varies from yellow to red, with many intermediate gradations of orange. They bloom from July until September.
Thanks to the remarkable adaptability of marigold, grow this plant is very easy, even in the absence of meticulous care. To get the seed it is enough to dry the flowers and collect the seeds. Indian carnations grow in every type of soil, as long as they are always well drained, as the plant fears the stagnation of water. The marigold prefer very sunny areas and not too windy, so it is highly recommended to keep them away from drafts. The seeds are planted in late spring, when the temperatures are higher. During the flowering period it is advisable to provide a specific fertilizer for flowering plants, which may be liquid or grain. Periodically cleansing the capsules is a great way to get abundant flowering.
Diseases and cares
Though generally a very hardy species, marigold can be infested by aphids that feed on the sap progressively weakening the plants. A similar threat is represented by tiny phytophagous insects known as coccinoles. In order to defend the cuttings from these pests, it is appropriate to use broad-spectrum insecticide treatments. Another disease that these plants may possibly contract is powdery mildew, caused by too much moisture, or from too copious watering. It is a fungal disease, so it is good to use a fungicidal product that can be used even in the preventive phase.
The flowers of many varieties of marigold have a strong smell, perceived by many as unpleasant: such characteristics as does the name of “skunk” which is sometimes called the marigold. For this reason, the marigold are often strategically planted on the edge of the vegetable gardens: the smell emanating from their flowers away so animals that may damage crops. There are also commercial varieties with completely odorless flowers. Sometimes the marigolds are also planted in reclaimed soils or in the vicinity of horticultural crops threatened by nematodes: the roots of Indian carnation release harmful substances for these dangerous parasites of the soil. The tagete is thus also an excellent groundwater health defender.